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  • Structured Manicures – Why You Need This Nail Service

As a professional nail artist, I've seen many clients struggle with weak, brittle, or damaged natural nails. They often come into the salon feeling frustrated and discouraged, believing they can't achieve a beautiful, long-lasting gel manicure. If this sounds familiar, let me introduce you to the magic of a structured manicure, a game-changing nail service that can benefit practically everyone!

What is a Structured Manicure?

Structured manicures are a specialized nail service where a soft builder gel is applied to the natural apex to provide reinforcement while preserving the integrity of the natural nails. Unlike regular gel manicures, which involve simply shaping and polishing the nails, structured manicures use advanced techniques and products to add strength, thickness, and shape to your nails.

Here are some examples of structured manicures. These are images of my work on real clients:

Builder Gel Basics

Builder gel can go by different names and is sometimes also called "structure gel overlay" or "rubber base". It is made from a combination of acrylic monomers and oligomers, which give it a thick, viscous consistency and strong adhesive properties. I personally use potted soft gel formulas. The builder gel product is applied using a brush and is cured under a UV light or LED nail lamp. 

Benefits of a Structured Gel Manicure

The benefits of structured manicures go beyond aesthetics. Here are a few reasons you should consider trying this nail service for yourself:

  • Durable manicure for long-lasting nails: Structured manicures have a 4-6 week wear time without chipping, peeling, or breaking. This type of manicure will last for a longer period of time compared to regular nail polish or even a regular gel polish manicure.
  • Protection for weak, brittle, or fragile nails: The structured gel overlay acts as a protective barrier, preventing further damage and allowing your natural nails to grow and strengthen underneath.
  • Balance uneven nail growth and smooth out ridges: Builder gel products are self-leveling, resulting in a perfectly smooth surface on top of the nail beds. This creates the perfect canvas for a beautiful manicure, even on nails with ridges or lop-sided natural nail growth. 
  • Ability to add length and change nail shape: With structured manicures, you can achieve the length and shape you've always wanted, whether that's long, almond-shaped nails or short, square nails.
  • Smooth, even, chip-resistant finish: The hard gel creates a smooth, even surface that resists chipping and peeling, giving you a flawless finish that lasts.
  • Low-maintenance and easy to care for: Unlike acrylic nails, which require frequent fills and maintenance, structured manicures are low-maintenance and easy to care for at home.

Who Can Benefit From a Structured Manicure?

A structured manicure can benefit just about everyone, but it is especially helpful if you have thin or brittle nails, or nails that grow unevenly. It is also a great option for nail biters looking to break the habit, as the hard gel overlay makes it impossible to bite your nails!

My mom's natural nails (photo below) have vertical ridges, but you can't even tell. The gel-based products used in a structured manicure are self-leveling, smoothing out the nail plate. 

Structured Manicure

What to Expect During a Structured Manicure Appointment

If you're interested in trying a structured manicure for yourself, this is what you can expect from your nail technician during the application process:
  1. Cuticle care: The cuticles will be gently pushed back and any excess skin around the cuticle area will be removed using a cuticle remover or nipper. 
  2. Nail shaping: The natural nails are filed into the desired shape, such as square, oval, almond, coffin, etc.
  3. Nail prep: The nail plate is lightly buffed to remove shine and cleansed with an alcohol wipe to remove oils, allowing the gel products to adhere properly.
  4. Base coat application: A supportive layer of rubber-based gel is applied in a thin layer to the natural nails and cured under an LED lamp.
  5. Builder gel application: A thicker viscosity builder gel is applied, focusing on creating an apex (the thickest part of the gel in the center of the nail). The gel is sculpted to add strength and structure. The builder gel is cured after application.
  6. Shaping and refining: The nails are filed and shaped with a hand file to perfect the structure and ensure a smooth, even surface.
  7. Gel color application: Your choice of gel nail polish color is applied in thin layers, curing between each coat. Nail art designs are applied during this step.
  8. Top coat/Final Coat: A gel top coat is applied and cured to add shine and a protective layer to the finished nails.
The entire process typically takes around 60-90 minutes, and your structured manicure should last 4-6 weeks with proper care.

The Wrap Up

If you're looking for a long-lasting, low-maintenance manicure that can help strengthen and protect your natural nails, structured manicures are definitely the way to go. 

Ready to book an appointment? 

About the Author

I am a licensed cosmetologist with 5 years of experience in the beauty industry. I also work in beauty retail, I am a Clinique Beauty Advisor, and I have a product addiction. I want it all. I'm a Gen Z Scorpio, persistent, and creative. I'm an Air Force girlfriend. I sing, play guitar, make spoon rings, and I bake the BEST chocolate chip cookies.

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