3 Essential Gel Nail Brushes To Own

First off, if you’re diving into the world of soft potted gel systems, Uhm… Welcome! You’ve come to the right place. We have a whole library of resources for you to watch and get yourself really comfortable using Japanese Gel Nail Systems.

Today’s focus will primarily be on getting you sorted with the four essential gel nail brushes you should own when getting started and throughout your nail journey using Japanese Gels.

I know it can get overwhelming, especially at the beginning, trying to make the “best choice” in what seems like a sea of infinite options, with more and more brushes being released every quarter.

Today, I will give you informed recommendations on quality and the best option for your pocket.

The three types of brushes you should own as your core brushes are…

#1 A Square or flat brush 

#2 A Round or oval brush

#3 A Detail liner or two for nail art

Let’s talk about #1, A Square Brush

This brush is a favorite in Japan. It’s an all-purpose brush that can be used for base gel, builder, top coat, color, and nail art like the ombre effect. The flat brush varies in length and thickness from company to company, depending on the nail artist’s needs and purpose.  

Its sharp corners are perfect for outlining the cuticle area and reaching tight areas of the nail when used for clear gels. A quick tip is to remove excess gel on the pot’s side, so the brush gets very flat, which is ideal for leveling gel and structuring the nail. 

Flat brushes come in handy for nail art too. Use it to create a “dragging” effect or erase color lines when doing gradient or ómbre nails.

Some sizes include brush head size 5mm-9mm in length and 4mm-6mm in width. 

My favorites are:

The Lily Gel Flat brush. Bristles are longer and narrower, making it easy to maneuver the product. Also, the a-esthe-tic! Gold cap, pink body, and a tiny crystal on the end of the brush, yup! I’m sold. 

Leafgel Flat brush. This brush has shorter bristles and a tiny bit wider head. I really like Leafgel’s brushes; they can last you a lifetime with the proper care and cleaning. They come in white with a metallic royal blue cap, and the cap stays on. No chasing caps here. 

Leafgel Gradation brush. Very similar to the flat brush but intended for gradation/ombre purposes. This is the way to go if you look to create gradient effects quickly and easily without a sponge. 

Other brands like Vetro, Izemi, Mithmillo, and From the Nail (brands carried by Zillabeau) have flat brushes that vary in head size. Feel free to explore these if you want a specific bristle size for your application needs; they are all high-quality tools.

Let’s now talk #2 A Round Brush

This brush is excellent for applications like base gel, color, builder, and top coat gel. 

My go-to brush because of the manageability of the cuticle area. This shape makes it super easy to frame the cuticle and avoid gel touching the skin. Again, you can clean the excess gel off, make it super sharp to clean sidewalls, and level the gel for the perfect structured gel manicure. 

Some sizes include bristles lengths of 5mm to 8mm and widths of 1.5mm to 6mm. So, which one should you get? I’ll share my faves, no worries, but remember that the bristle size depends on what you need the brush for. For example, a wide shot one for base application or a long thin one for nail art. That’s why these brands offer a variety of sizes to cater to all artists out there. 

My favorites are:

Ok, trend alert, but I really love these brushes. 

Vetro Pink Oval #4 and Red Max #6. These brushes are lovely; they glide with your application. Red Max is intended to be used with Vetros’ Base Max Gel, but it works wonderfully with color gels too. These brushes are durable with proper cleaning and care, and even then, you can say that I’ve been kind of harsh on mine, and they are still going strong 6+ years later. 

Lily Gel Oval+ Brush. A soft and wide oval brush with a gold cap! Great for applying any gel. Also, the beautiful crystal detail at the end of the brush is just exquisite. 

Leafgel Oval II is very reliable, durable, and easy to use. This brush is more on the small-medium head size than other brands, which is why I like it. It’s easy to control the product. 

#3 Liner Brushes

Liner brushes are suitable for any of your applications, especially nail art. Many artists and brands use liner brushes to structure the nail; they use them vertically to structure the apex, frame the cuticle area, or go over the sidewalls. You name it! Liner brushes are a must, even if you’re like me and not into line work. 

Length is essential here. Even if your hand is shakey, longer bristles paint long, straighter lines. Coat the brush entirely with gel, lay it on the nail, and pull it down. 

Shorter bristles are meant for detailed work such as painting eyes on tiny character art, flowers, etc.  

Some sizes include extra short, short, long, slim, slim, long, etc. Again, a wide variety to find the liner brush that allows you to translate your idea onto the nail. 

Artists always look for the perfect brush with the proper density, bristle length, and width for fantastic nail art.

My favorites are:

Ok! Because line work is not my strong suit, I don’t actually have that many liner faves.

But to choose one for you, I gotta agree with the public here…

Kokoist x Nail Thoughts Detailer brush. This brush, within just a year of being launched, became a Nailpro Magazine award-winning brush, and as I said, I agree.

This brush is super versatile. You can do line, detail, and nail art all in one. It’s a little shorter and fuller than most liner brushes, making it perfect for other tasks. Look no further if you want a multi-use brush with a firmer feel. And I mean, aesthetics… the handle is a beautiful coral sparkly and seals in a gold cap. Uh…Yeah. 

Long Liner fav is Leafgel Liner L . This is the secret sauce, the liner master, and the detail ninja. In the search for a liner brush that was long enough and extra fine at the same time, this is it. 

Optional! French Tip Brush

An angular brush or French Tip brush is optional but a great addition to the team if you learn how to use it. Like everything in our industry, practice makes perfect, and mastering French tips with this brush takes that. Practice.  

Many people use liner brushes for french lines or gradients, and that’s not wrong; you can get a superb result too. It’s just what works best for you and your art. Liner brushes give you a cleaner smile line, but I feel it can take longer to fill in the rest of the design, and sometimes it can look patchy. Again is just a matter of practice.    

When you paint the smile line using your angular brush, just coat both sides of the bristles with gel and move in a one-swipe motion starting from the center, moving up to the left, and then to the right. After that, you can correct the line, BUT please! Don’t get lost in the eternal loop of trying to make both sides perfect. This will increase your service time and make you hate french tips. Just paint and move along. 

Another cool thing you can do with angular brushes is beautiful two-toned flowers. Japanese nail art is big on beautiful life-like flowers. Use the brush to grab two colors on the bristles and just stamp to create the petals. Looks super pretty. 

Some of my recommendations are:

Kokoists Angular Brushes. They have two sizes, a medium size and a smaller one. These are great quality brushes made in Japan. The only downside to Kokoists brushes is that the cap falls off frequently. You can do a little hack to keep them on. Watch here. (https://www.instagram.com/reel/CHsluohH0te/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet) 

As you can see, I recommend what I know and have been using for years. You can shop Kokoist, Leafgel, or any Korean Gel Nail Brands mentioned from Zillabeau at 10% off using code PPN10.

Let’s recap!

The three types of brushes you should own as a gel nail specialist are #1 Flat Brush, #2 Round Brush, and #3 Liner Brush(s). A French Tip brush is optional, especially as you get started.

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Content by Paola Ponce and Fabiola Saucedo.

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