How Well Do You Know Your Gels?


I thought i would do this blog on all the different Gels I use and their differences. I also wanted to touch on some things I have been seeing.

Im seeing a lot of confusion between 'Builder In a Bottle' and 'Builder Gel' 

So lets clear this up....

Builder In  A Bottle - There are many reasons people use this now. But the main reasons being...

  • clients with weak/damaged natural nails
  • build an apex on the natural nails 
  • very short extension to repair broken natural nails

cover rose compact base

Builder Gel- This title can be confusing and lead people to believe this is just like builder in a bottle. Especially Newcomers in to the industry! Builder Gel (in a pot not a bottle) is a HARD GEL!


This is used for

  • Long structured overlays
  • Sculpted extensions
  • Tip&Overlay Extensions

milky rose builder




What are they?


Crystal nails version of Builder In A Bottle is called 'Compact Base'. Not only can it be used as base gel for their gel polishes and hard gels, but it can be used to build strength on the natural nail for weak and/or damaged nails. You can build a very short extension with this but I would not use this for building anything longer, it is not designed to build enhancements. It is a soak off product and comes in 6 different colours. It has a prep system which is different to other brands, its always good to check how the system works when starting out in any brand. Dont assume they are all the same.

compact basecompact base gel overlay



Hard Gel/Builder Gel - There is a lot of varieties, all coming in pots (not bottles). With Crystal Nails the cover gels are labelled as 'Hard Gel' and the clear gels are labelled as 'Builder Gels' These Gels are used for building enhancements or overlays on longer natural nails that need strength. This is a completely different qualification to Builder In a Bottle. 

milky rose builder gel

It is so important to know and understand what you are using. If you are unsure of what something is, ask the company. Or if they have brand ambassadors, ask them. They represent the brand and should know about the products inside and out!

Im seeing so often now, that when techs are doing qualifications in Builder In a Bottle, they think they are qualified in Hard Gel/Builder Gel too! Assuming they are the same to use. Some even assume they are qualified to use Acrygel too!

Dont panic if you have done this, you shouldn't need to do a complete beginners course all over again in the different medium you want to use. You should be able to do a conversion course. These are usually a day course with case studies.

The following all need their own qualifications

  • Acrylic
  • Acrygel/Polygel
  • Hard Gel/Builder Gel
  • Builder In A Bottle
  • Gel Polish

They are different products and are used in different ways. 


Other Gels

You could say the same for some colour gels. Some brands colour gels that come in pots are from the hard gel family, they will be ok for full coverage over Hard Gel, acrylics etc, but if painted on natural nails the colour could crack. This is because the gel itself is too 'hard' when cured and the natural nail is flexible, this then leads to the colour showing small cracks.

For example Crystal Nails royal gel i would not use on the natural nail for full colour, i only use them for nail art when using directly on natural nails. This is the same for Home of Nail Art (HONA) detail paints these can also be used for full coverage but not on the natural nail. Its only recommended full coverage over enchancments. But for nail art and details, they can be used on anything.



Thank You!

If you have any questions about the gel system you are using I am more than happy to help, just pop me a message.

I have had some amazing suggestions for future blog topics! 


Thank you for reading and i hope this has been helpful!


Erin x

Leave a comment