Forget SNS and acrylic manicures. Here's why BIAB nails are infinitely better.

Fact: There is no such thing as a ‘safe’ manicure.

No matter what anyone says, any sort of drilling, soaking or curing will do something to your poor nail beds. That said, some manicures are better for your nails than others. Much better.

Watch: Feeling game to remove your acrylic nails at home? Check out this video tutorial below, post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

As a nail biter from way back (legit, I’ve chipped two teeth from nail biting), I’ve always gravitated towards SNS nails

Why? Because I can’t bite through them and have always heard about SNS causing less damage to your nails than acrylic nails.

Then, I had a BIAB manicure with Sydney nail artist


I’m not the biggest nail care aficionado, so I hadn’t heard of this type of manicure before. But after seeing the results, I won’t be going back to SNS.

What are BIAB nails, you ask? Great question. Keep scrolling for a rundown on exactly what BIAB nails are and how they work.

What are BIAB nails?

BIAB stands for ‘builder in a bottle’, and is also referred to as ‘builder gels’.

With builder gel, you can create the same look, hardness and strength as acrylic or SNS nails, without damaging the natural nail underneath (as much). 

Even though it is a gel product (note: gel and shellac are the same), BIAB cures hard under an LED light and is more durable than your regular shellac.


How does builder in a bottle work?

BIAB nails are pretty versatile. 

If you already have great nail length but find yours break easily, BIAB can be applied underneath gel polish to make your manicure last longer. You can also use BIAB to repair one broken nail by creating an extension, or for nail biters like me, a whole set of extensions (see the picture below).

Oh, and you can infill your manicure using BIAB as well, which means the builder doesn’t need to be soaked off if you want to change your gel nail colour. This isn’t something you can do with SNS nails.

Rather than soaking in acetone and scratching it off, your manicurist can top up the BIAB from the bottom and reshape the existing shape. This process saves time and your nails.


What makes BIAB better for your nails than SNS or acrylic?

A few things. The main draw card is the removal process, because only the outermost layers need to be gently drilled before BIAB nails soak off completely.

Technically, acrylic and SNS can also be soaked off, but it’s a slow process and many salons just drill it off to save time. Drilling can cause trauma to the nail, which is why you’ll notice your nails might look and feel weak after having an acrylic or SNS manicure removed. 

As I mentioned above, all manicures will cause a degree of damage, but the less drilling, the better.

Listen: We explain the different types of salon manicures in this episode of the You Beauty podcast below, post continues after audio.

BIAB is also ‘5 Free’, which means it doesn’t contain chemicals like formaldehyde or formaldehyde resin, toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or camphor. 

And for nail biters, the biggest pro is you get the look and strength of an SNS manicure, but your natural nails can grow out undisturbed underneath.


What do BIAB nails look like?

When I had my BIAB extensions done, they looked a bit like a shellac/SNS hybrid - not as thin as shellac, and not as thick and chunky as SNS.

But if you already have nails long enough to paint, it’ll look like regular gel polish. You can see my 'before' and 'after' photos below, plus what my nails look like after having the BIAB removed.

BEFORE. Ouch. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.


AFTER! Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.

Here are my nails two weeks after once the BIAB was removed, look at that growth! Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.


Personally, I loved my BIAB manicure but then again, I generally love any manicure I get because anything is better than my raggedy bitten nails. 

What I did notice, though, is my natural nails were more or less unscathed after I inevitably ripped them off. #nailbiterlife.

Want more helpful content on looking after your nails? Check out these stories below:

Feature image: Supplied/@theamyclark.

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