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How to Build an Easy Apex with Builder Gel

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How do you build an apex with builder gel? Building an apex is key in giving your flat nails more strength. But let’s face it, doing it on your own nails may seem a little confusing. But don’t worry. Below, I’ll cover what an apex is and when and how to do it with builder gel. Plus there is a bonus with common mistakes to avoid.

What’s an Apex, Anyway? 

If you look at the middle of your nail, there’s a special point called the “apex.” This point is where your nail is weakest. By focusing builder gel polish on this weak spot, you can make your natural nails stronger and more balanced. 

When Should You Build an Apex?

 Fun fact, nails that are flat break more easily. Having very flat nails, are a sign that you need an apex! Building an apex helps prevent those annoying breaks and gives your nails a stronger structure and here is how. If you imagine flat nails being like a flat sheet of paper, it can break much more easily. However, if you fold the paper and give it a curve, it’s harder for your nail to break(even for longer nails). The for your nail is the apex. See the video here for more detailed apex information from a nail technician. 

How to build an apex using builder gel.

Where do you build the Apex of the Nail? 

Okay..so where do you build an apex? To find the spot where your apex should go, gently press the tip of your nail. The part of your nail plate that turns white is the weakest point of your nails(the stress point). This is the exact spot where you’ll do the apex placement. You can use this method for both long nails and short nails.

Let’s Build That Apex! 

Now comes the fun part – building your apex! Here’s a step-by-step apex method guide.

Step 1: Prep Your Nails

The 1st and most important thing is nail prep. This will ensure that your builder sticks to your entire nail and does not lift. Start off by prepping your cuticle area with a cuticle remover(OPI) and shaping your nails. You then want to cleanse your nails with an alcohol pad. Finally, you want to apply a gel base coat and cure. The base gel will help ensure that the builder sticks to your nails.

Note: It’s a good idea to use a base gel from the same company as your builder gel. This will ensure that you get the best results.

Step 2: Give Nails Solid Foundation

Before building an apex, you want your nails to have a solid foundation. Apply a thin layer of builder gel on your nails. You then want to give it a quick cure under your UV lamp. This will give you a solid foundation to build your apex. 

Note: Don’t forget to apply gel to the free edge. This helps prevent lifting.

Step 3: Apply the Slip Layer

Apply another thin layer of builder gel, but this time, don’t cure it yet. This layer is called the slip layer and allows you to move the next layer of gel to build the apex. Please don’t skip this step, trust me your gel won’t move if you try to build an apex without this slip layer.

Step 4: Build the Apex  

You want to take a bead of product and place the builder gel at a little distance from your cuticles. You then want to move the bead up your nail lightly tapping it. Pretend that you are drawing tiny rainbows up your nails. You really want to focus the majority of gel in the middle of the nail bed to build the apex. The builder gel you apply on the tip of your nail will have a more thin nature.

Step 5: Hold Nail Upside  Down

This step is really important.  Holding your nail upside down helps your builder gel smooth and level before curing so you don’t have lumpy builder gel. Hold your nails upside down for a few seconds before the curing step. 

Step 6: Quick Flash Cure

After your gel has leveled, give your nail a quick flash cure in and out of the nail lamp for about a minute. This helps you avoid any sudden heat spikes. Heat spikes(heat sensations under a gel nail lamp)are more common with thicker gels like Builder and rubber base gel. However, flash curing helps you avoid these heat spikes because beauty does not have to be pain. 

Step 7: Fully Cure

Now it’s time to fully cure your gel. Just follow the instructions on the gel kit you’re using – every brand has its own special instructions about UV/LED lamp use with their gel products.

Step 8: Wipe off the Sticky Layer of Gel

After your builder has cured, you might notice that there is a sticky layer of gel on your nail. Take an alcohol pad and wipe off the sticky layer of gel. This step is important for 2 reasons. The sticky layer is an uncured layer of gel that you don’t want remaining on your nails because this can increase your risk of allergies(Read more about preventing gel nail allergies here). You also don’t want random things sticking to your nails. 

Note: I recommend using a 70% alcohol pad. 99% will take the shine away from your nails.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Creating an apex with builder gel is a great way to get stronger nails, but you want to avoid these common first time mistakes. Below are mistakes followed by best practices.

1.Don’t Try to do all Your Builder Nails at Once

It’s important that you do a single nail at a time and cure individually. If you do your builder on each nail and then cure, it will create a huge mess. The apex you worked so hard to build will spill into your cuticles and all over the place. Remember to do each finger separately and to work quickly in this process.

2.Use a Good UV Lamp

The 10-15 dollar gel nail lamps on Amazon will not cure your gel fully. It will cure the top layer of the gel and not the rest of the gel. This presents a problem for two reasons. Having uncured gel on your nails can increase your risk of allergies. Also, if the gel is not cured, this can cause your gel to pop off because the bottom of your gel is still soft. I recommend getting a quality nail lamp. The price for good lamps ranges from $50-70 and here is one that I recommend. Get this SUNUV lamp from Amazon.

3.Be careful not to get gel on your skin 

Gel is not nail polish so it is important to not get it all over your skin. Getting gel on your skin can potentially cause allergies over time so please be very neat with the gel application process. More info about gel nail allergy prevention here.

So that’s a breakdown of what an apex is, why you need it, and how to build one. It may seem a bit tricky at 1st, but with a little practice, you’ll get the hang of it. If you want to see a video tutorial on building an apex, check out this post I did on it. It’s a simple way to keep your nails strong and to get a gorgeous nail look. 

Note 1: I’m using soft and not hard gel in this process.

Note 2: There are other ways to build an apex with acrylic powder and dip powder manicures(dip nails and acrylic nails are mostly done in nail salons). However, gel manicures are my personal preference. 


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