Builder gel is your long nails’ best friend. It works with any kind of nail extension you prefer, whether it be tips, your own natural nails or building your nail using a good old-fashioned nail form and gel.
The reason builder gel can come in handy when you want bump-resistant nails is because it allows you to build a strong apex where you need it most, which is the stress area. Broadly speaking, that’s where your nail extension meets your natural nail, which would be the point prone to the most damage. It generally sits in the back 1/3 of your extended nail. Basically, if you bump your finger that point is the most likely to break, and applying the thickest layer of builder gel there would, to an extent, help prevent that breakage. If you like keeping your nails extra long, then you might want to push it towards the tip even further.
A useful tip to determine the position of the apex regardless of the length of your nail extension is to gently (very gently: you don’t want to break it!) push the tip of your nail downwards. You’ll notice that an area of your natural nail will turn white from the pressure, and that’s the indicator of where to start working your builder gel.
The amount of builder gel you’ll have to pick up depends on a number of factors, such as the nail shape and length, but what is most important is that you first apply it where you want your apex to be. Make sure you have a thick enough layer on your stress area (or just repeat the following process twice, briefly curing your first layer before moving onto the second one) and then start spreading it by pushing it back towards your cuticle first. The layer should be thinner the closer it gets to your cuticles so that you can properly build the back half of your arch.
To avoid bulky nails, keep in mind that the apex is a point on the top of your nail rather than an arch that goes across it: this means that there should be just one thickest point, and that the thickest layer will be on top of your nails, not on the sides too.
Once you’re happy with how your nail looks near the cuticle, start lightly pulling down the builder gel towards the tip of your nails too. The gel you’ll be using will still be the same you applied on your apex, and sometimes (especially if your gel is not too viscous) it can help to point your finger downwards and let gravity help you. Some nail artists even recommend flipping your nail upside down to let your gel settle more naturally, but this too probably only works for very liquid gels. If you’re new at nail reconstruction then you need to know that the thinner the gel, the faster you’ll need to work your brush – so a brush rest might come in handy to keep everything organized. If you’re curious, try it out, but remember to be careful and not spill any product!
Working on your apex with builder gel is not too easy, especially because the shine of the gel might make it hard to assess how good of a job you did when looking from above. Take this as a reminder to check how your apex is turning out from the sides and from the tip of your nails too, as these could provide good indicators of how evenly and smoothly you spread the builder gel on both sides. If you like longer nails, maybe apply some extra product to your stress area, even if you’re satisfied with your apex.
When you’re happy with the thickness of your builder gel application use UV light to cure it, and if you’re not satisfied with the shape of your mani right now is a good time to file it down to make sure your apex is regular and smooth.
Check out this beautiful set and apex by @sculptednailsbyhailey
Getting the perfect arch with builder gel can be a little tricky at first, and you will probably have to file down your nails quite a bit the first few times. I suggest trying to work with your brush and wet gel rather than your nail file, but it can turn out to be hard at the beginning. Still, just like anything else, practice makes perfect: start working on your building gel skills next time you give yourself a mani, and you’ll soon discover how much a strong apex can do for your long nails.