Here’s why everyone is talking about BIAB nails

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If you love gel manicures but your gel manicures don’t love you, BIAB nails may be the solution


Between Bella Hadid and Jesy Nelson, BIAB nails have taken over both the red carpet and our Instagram feeds. But even if you’re a seasoned visitor to your salon, you may be wondering what that means! BIAB or Builder in a Bottle is a gel-like nail polish applied as an overlay on natural nails or short extensions. It works like a gel but it dries strong and durable, meaning you’re less likely to chip between sessions. 

Almost all treatments pose a risk to your nail health, but BIAB works differently from the gel polish you might be used to, and can actually strengthen your natural nail rather than weaken it.


Why is it different?

  • The Gel Bottle Inc’s BIAB is formulated ‘5 free’ i.e. without the toxic ingredients common in some nail products – formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, and camphor.
  • It can promote the growth of your natural nail: it works to improve the nail’s flexibility, meaning you’re less likely to experience any bendiness. 
  • Since it can be soaked off, it doesn’t rely on drills, which means less trauma to your nail bed. And since it gets refilled, you’re exposed to acetone remover less frequently.
  • BIAB doesn’t lift at the edges like shellac or gel sometimes does.
  • The result is a strong finish, which files easily and is more resistant to those pesky chips. 


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Michelle Bishop is a nail technician at Chelles Belles Gels in Co Meath. She says BIAB has been a “gamechanger” for both herself and her clients:

I use BIAB on clients who might have weak or brittle nails, nail biters or pickers or clients who simply can’t get their nails past a certain length without them breaking.

She says her own nails have a history of weakness from a thyroid disorder. Before offering the BIAB service to her clients, she tested it on herself, experiencing an incredible amount of growth over the course of 13 weeks.

Image via Michelle Bishop


BIAB nails are at the same price point as gel or shellac, in most cases, and will set you back between €35 and €50. Many salons offer refills for €30, and soak-offs for €20. Thankfully, you won’t need to soak off every time you fancy a change. 

Where to get it done

While we love a DIY beauty moment, it is not recommended anybody tries BIAB at home. It is a professional product, and you deserve a treat, so leave this one to the pros! You can make like Saoirse Ronan and book in with Tropical Popical if you’re in Dublin. You could check out Michelle’s nails yourself at Chelles Belles Gels. There’s also Effie’s, Nilo, and Polished but be sure to check locally because a lot of regional artists offer BIAB services at their own salons. 

Main photo by Kris Atomic on Unsplash