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What is the Difference Between Builder and Rubber Base Gel?

Do you want to strengthen your weak nails? You might have heard about builder gel and rubber base gel, two gels that can help you get stronger natural nails. But hold on, they’re not the same! In this blog, I’ll dive into the world of nail gels and uncover the differences between builder gel and rubber base gel, making it super easy for you to choose the right product to give your nails extra strength. 

This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase.

What is a Rubber Base Coat?

A rubber base coat is a special type of gel for your nails. It’s thick and it can bend and move easily with the bendy nail type(unlike a regular gel base).

Who Needs Rubber Base Gel?

If your nails tend to bend and flex a lot, then a rubber gel base is for you. Bendy nails are caused by your nails having too much moisture(especially if you have oily skin). Rubber base gel is ideal for bendy nails for two reasons. The 1st reason is its thick consistency. The thick consistency of rubber base gel gives bendy nails more support which makes them stronger. The 2nd reason is its flexibility. Because bendy nails flex a lot, traditional gel products lift with this nail type. Rubber base gel, however, bends with this nail type which prevents lifting.

Types of Rubber Base Coats

There are two main types of rubber base gel: soft gel and hard gel. Soft rubber base gel can be easily removed by soaking your nails in 100% acetone. On the other hand, hard rubber gel requires an electric file for removal. Harder gels are also on the thicker side and come in pots. This generally requires a more advanced skill level(Let’s leave hard gel nails to nail techs).

builder vs rubber base gel

Recommended Rubber Base Gel for Beginners:

If you are new to using nail gels, it’s best to start with soft rubber base gels. Hard rubber base gels can be trickier to work with, especially if you are not familiar with using an electric file for removal. Some great options for beginners include products from lKON.IQ. These high quality products will give your nails the strength they need while moving well with your nail type. Feel free to check out the rubber base gel information linked below.

Rubber Base Gel(IKON.IQ)

How to Apply a Rubber Base Gel?

Putting on rubber base gel is easy to do. Just follow these steps:

  1. Start by getting your nails ready. Remove your cuticles with a cuticle softner like Sally Hansen Cuticle Remover. Then, use an alcohol pad to clean your nail surface.
  2. Next, apply a thin layer of the rubber base gel to your nails and put it under a UV/LED lamp to make the gel harden.
  3. Finally, once the gel is hard, use a 70% isopropyl alcohol pad to wipe off the sticky layer that’s left on top of the gel.
builder vs rubber base gel

Note: Don’t forget to apply rubber base gel to the free edge of your nails.

Do You Need to Build an Apex?

When you’re working with a rubber base gel, you might wonder if you need to make something called an “apex.” Usually, if your nails are flexible, you can just apply a thin layer of rubber base coat. But if your nails are both flexible and flat, you might need to create a tiny curve called an “apex.” This curves helps give your nails a stronger sturcutre.

Note: Flatnails break more easily, that is why thicker gels can be used to give your nails a stronger structure.

Can you Apply Color Gel or Nail Polish on Top?

You have two options to color your rubber base gel manicure. You can either use a rubber base gel that has color or you can use regular nail polish.

If you choose rubber base color gel, follow the same steps as before but use the color and not clear rubber base gel. Don’t forget to apply an cure a gel topcoat at the end.

If you prefer nail polish, you can apply it after you finish putting on the rubber base gel. Once the gel is fully cure, you’ll need to wipe off the sticky layer on top of your nails. After that, you can paint your nails with your favorite nail polish color.

builder vs rubber base gel

How do you remove Rubber Base Gel?

Removing rubber base gel (for soft gel) is easy, and I’ll explain how to do it step by step.

  1. First, you’ll need a nail file (recommend 180 grit nail files). Use it to gently file off the top layer of the rubber base gel on your nails.
  2. Next, get some 100% acetone and soak your nails in the acetone for about 15 minutes. This will make the gel softer and easier to remove.
  3. After the soaking time is up, take a cuticle pusher and carefully remove the softened gel from your nails. If some parts are still hard, you can soak them again and try to remove them once more.
  4. When you’re done, your nails might feel very dry. To help them, try doing a nail oil soak. It’s like giving your nails a special moisturizing treatment. This is a nail oil soak recipe you can follow. Recipe Here
builder vs rubber base gel

What is Builder Gel for?

Do you have flat nails? Did you know that flat nails break moreeasily? This is where builder gel comes in. Here’s how it works: When you apply builder gel, you shape it in a certain way to create something called an “apex.” Think of this like a tiny curve on your nail. This curve adds strength to your nails because it puts extra gel on the weakest part of your nails. So builder gel strengthens your nails by giving it a stronger structure.

Who Needs Builder Gel?

If your nails tend to break easily because you have flat and brittle nails, then builder gel is the the gel for you.

Soft and Hard Builder Gel

Just like rubber base gel, builder gel also comes in soft and hard versions. Soft builder gel can be removed with 100% acetone, while hard ones require the assistance of an e-file(again let’s leave this to a professional nail tech). 

Top Pick for Beginner Builders

If you’re new to the nail game, it’s best to start with soft builder gels. Leave the hard ones for nail technicians. Brands like Kokoist high quality and beginner friendly builder gel nail products.

Kokoist Nail Thoughts Builder

How to Apply Builder

Applying builder gel to your nails might seem a bit tricky at first, but don’t worry, you’ll get better with practice!

  1. Prepare your nails by pushing back and removing your cuticles. Then clean the surface of the nail with an alcohol pad. Optional: Buff nails
  2. Optional: If you want the builder gel to stick better, you can put on something called “Primer” on your nails.
  3. Apply a thin layer of the builder gel on your nails and cure it under a UV light again.
  4. Now, add another thin layer of the builder gel, but don’t put it under the light just yet.
  5. Take a small amount of the builder gel and put it on your nails. Then gently slide it up towards the top of your nail. Think of it as drawing tiny rainbows up your nails.
  6. To make sure the gel looks nice and even, hold your nails upside down for a few seconds to help the gel level.
  7. Now, it’s time to cure the gel. It’s a good idea to put your nails in and out of the UV lamp for the first minute to prevent any uncomfortable heat. Then, fully cure the gel by leaving your nails under the light.
  8. After the gel is completely cured, don’t forget to wipe off the sticky layer of gel with an alcohol pad.

Note: I recommend using products from the same gel nail system for in this process. Mixing and matching base coats and builder gels from different brands will not guarantee best results for at home users.

How to Remove Builder Gel

Removing builder gel is an simple process, and I’ll show you how to do it step by step.

  1. First, use a nail file with a 180 grit to gently file off the top layer of the builder gel from your nails.
  2. Next, get some 100% acetone(regular nail remover won’t work)and soak your nails in the acetone for about 15 minutes with a cotton pad. This will make the gel softer and easier to remove.
  3. After the soaking, take a cuticle pusher and carefully remove the softened gel from your nails. If some parts are still stuck, you can soak them again and try removing the gel once more.
  4. When you’re done, your nails will feel really dry. To help them, try doing a nail oil soak. It’s like giving your nails a special moisturizing treatment. I have a recipe for you to try here.

Can you Apply Color Gel or Nail Polish?

You have two options to color your builder gel manicure. You can either use a builder gel that has color or you can use regular nail polish.

If you choose builder color gel, follow the same steps as before but use the color and not clear rubber base gel. Don’t forget to apply an cure a gel topcoat at the end.

If you prefer nail polish, you can apply it after you finish putting on the builder gel. Once the gel is fully cured, you’ll need to wipe off the sticky layer on top of your nails. After that, you can paint your nails with your favorite nail polish color (I love Mooncat).

How to Choose the Right Gel for You

Picking the right gel depends on the type of nails you have. Let’s break it down:

  1. Rubber Base Gel for Bendy Nails: If your nails are flexible and bend easily, you should choose a rubber base gel. This gel gives bendy nails strength and moves well with this nail type.
  2. Builder Gel for Brittle, Flat Nails: If your nails are weak, brittle, and flat, then builder gel is your go-to choice. It adds a thicker layer of gel to the weakest point on your nails

So, the secret is to match the gel with your nail type – rubber base for bendy nails, and builder gel for flat brittle nails.

Conclusion

Now you’re armed with the knowledge of builder gel and rubber base gel. These gel products will give your nails the strength they need to grow and flourish. Just remember, rubber base gel is the star for bendy nails, while builder gel takes care of those flat and fragile ones. 

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