Structure Gel Manicure: Builder Gel vs. Structure Gel

Structured gel manicures, often referred to as structured gel overlays, have taken the nail industry by storm due to their ability to provide durable, long-lasting, and beautifully shaped nails. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the details of structured gel manicures, exploring their defining characteristics and why they’re a popular choice among nail enthusiasts.

What Is A Structured Gel Manicure?

What Is A Structured Gel Manicure

A structured gel manicure involves applying a thicker viscosity gel to the nails, creating a reinforced and defined look. This method enhances durability and wearability while achieving a balanced and smooth apex to protect the stress areas of the nails.

Rather than simply brushing on a gel product like you would with a Shellac or Gelish manicure, structured gel manicures involve applying a thicker layer of gel.

A structured gel manicure stands out from the conventional gel nail application techniques. This innovative approach offers several benefits, ranging from enhanced durability to exquisite nail shapes.

3 Defining Characteristics of Structured Gel Manicures

Structured gel manicures encompass three key characteristics that set them apart:

1. Using Thicker Viscosity Gel

The foundation of a structured gel manicure is the use of a thicker viscosity gel. This gel consistency allows for better sculpting and shaping of the nails, resulting in a more defined and longer-lasting nail appearance. It’s important to choose the right type of gel product for your structured manicure, as the viscosity plays a crucial role in achieving the desired outcome.

2. Thicker Yet Defined Nails

Don’t be mistaken by the term “thicker” – structured gel manicures do not equate to bulky or unattractive nails. The key here is achieving the perfect balance between thickness and aesthetics. By applying a thicker layer of gel strategically, you create a strong foundation for the nails while maintaining a visually pleasing look. This self-leveling technique is essential for achieving the ideal structured nail appearance.

3. Creating a Smooth Apex

The apex is the highest point of the nail, and it’s pivotal in creating a structured gel manicure. Placing the apex in the right location is crucial to ensuring the nails remain both durable and visually appealing. Instead of placing the apex directly at the smile line (where the free edge meets the nail bed), it’s recommended to position it slightly behind the smile line to account for future nail growth. This approach ensures that the nails maintain their structured form even as they grow.

Choosing the Right Gel Products for Structured Gel Manicures

When it comes to structured gel manicures, the choice of gel products is pivotal. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

Choosing the Right Gel Products

1. Viscosity Matters

Opt for a gel product with a thicker viscosity. This consistency allows for better control during application, ensuring that you can shape and structure the nails effectively. Consider using tinted builder gels, which offer a thicker texture and self-leveling properties for seamless application.

2. Trusted Brands

Select gel products from reputable brands known for their quality and durability. Brands like Kokoist, Vetro, and Leafgel offer premium soft builder gels that are ideal for structured gel manicures. These gels provide the necessary strength and flexibility to create beautifully structured nails.

3. Apex Formation Techniques

To achieve a smooth and well-defined apex, consider turning the hand upside down during application. Allowing gravity to assist in forming the apex ensures a natural and balanced nail structure. This technique is especially effective when working with potted soft gels.

Advantages of Structured Gel Manicures

Advantages of Structured Gel Manicures

Structured gel manicures offer a range of advantages that make them a popular choice among nail enthusiasts:

1. Enhanced Durability

The thicker gel application in structured gel manicures results in nails that are more resilient and less prone to chipping or breaking. This enhanced durability ensures that your manicure remains intact for an extended period.

2. Long-Lasting Appearance

Thanks to the self-leveling properties of structured gel products, your manicure maintains its pristine appearance for weeks. The carefully crafted apex and thickness contribute to a manicure that looks freshly done even after several weeks.

3. Customized Nail Shapes

Structured gel manicures allow for the creation of various nail shapes, from almond to stiletto, that can’t be achieved with regular gel applications. The controlled thickness and shaping techniques provide endless possibilities for creating personalized nail looks.

4. Nail Health and Protection

By strategically placing the apex and using thicker gel, structured gel manicures protect the stress area of the nails. This added support minimizes the risk of nail damage and ensures the health and strength of your natural nails.

Builder Gel vs. Structure Gel: A Comparison

CharacteristicBuilder GelStructure Gel
PurposeNail extension, overlays, strengthDefined apex, reinforcement
ApplicationLayered application, UV/LED curingLayered application, UV/LED curing
ViscosityRange of viscosities for various needsThicker consistency for strong apex
FlexibilityCan be flexible or rigid based on typeBalanced flexibility and strength
Main FocusVersatility and nail enhancementApex definition and durability

Builder Gel

Builder gel is a versatile product used to add strength and structure to the nails. It’s typically thicker than regular gel polish and is applied in layers to create extensions, overlays, or to strengthen natural nails. Builder gel is available in various viscosities, allowing nail technicians to tailor the application to the client’s needs. Here are the key attributes of builder gel:

  • Purpose: Builder gel is primarily used to extend the length of the nails, create enhancements, or add strength to weak natural nails.
  • Application: It’s applied in layers and requires curing under a UV or LED lamp.
  • Viscosity: Builder gel can range from thin to thick, and different viscosities offer different levels of control and versatility in nail sculpting.
  • Flexibility: Builder gel can be flexible or rigid, depending on the desired outcome.
  • Use Cases: It’s suitable for creating extensions, overlays, and sculpted nail enhancements.

Structure Gel

Structure gel, on the other hand, is a specific type of builder gel designed to provide support and structure to the nails. It’s used to create a well-defined apex that protects the stress areas of the nails and enhances durability. Here’s what you need to know about structure gel:

  • Purpose: Structure gel is focused on creating a strong apex to reinforce the nails and provide protection against everyday wear and tear.
  • Application: Like builder gel, it’s applied in layers and cured under a UV or LED lamp.
  • Viscosity: Structure gel is generally thicker and provides more control during application to achieve the desired apex.
  • Flexibility: It offers a balance between flexibility and strength, ensuring durability while maintaining a natural feel.
  • Use Cases: Structure gel is primarily used to achieve a defined apex and added strength, making it ideal for clients seeking a long-lasting manicure.


Structured gel manicures blend artistry and science to create nails that are not only beautiful but enduring. From thicker gel applications to precisely placed apexes, these manicures enhance both appearance and durability.

Understanding these techniques empowers you to craft resilient, stunning nails. For more insights, tips, and techniques, explore the Villa Nail Salon blog.

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