Assigning Brushes To Your Gels | Why It’s Important!

Who doesn’t like to go shopping for nail supplies… ?? SUPER guilty over here!

And well, today, I’m going to be giving you a legitimate reason to go shopping.

We will discuss assigning brushes to your gels and why doing this is super important. So by the end of this conversation, you’ll probably have a perfect excuse to go shopping.

Let’s begin!

In a nutshell, the reason why you need to assign some gels their specific brush for application is that every core gel in a gel nail system (so, aside from colors) is crafted for a particular purpose, and you want to preserve its purpose by designating it a specific gel brush.

We’ll review and highlight the purpose of each core gel we discuss today. 

And if you’re wondering what a “core gel is,” I use this term to refer to the clear gels that you use primarily to put a set of gel nails together and that you use often.

Here are the categories for the types of gels you should assign a brush to

#1 Gel Bases, #2 Potted Top Gel, #3 Builder Gel, #4 Glitters, and #5 Colors (dark and light)

Let’s start with

#1 Gel Bases

The purpose of your gel base is to provide adhesion for your gel manicure or extensions. You’ll want to use a brush that you’re comfortable applying gel to the nail plate. When selecting an application brush for your gel bases, you will choose either a flat or round-shaped brush. If you ask me what shape I personally prefer, I’ve come to really appreciate a square-shaped brush for gel base (by the way, this is traditionally the application brush in Japan) as the corners of it allow me to get nice and close!… and then a round brush for everything else.

But you use whichever you first find yourself confident in.

So let’s review the base gel’s purpose and suggested brush to designate:


A base gel’s purpose is to provide adhesion of the gel nail to the natural nail, and so we are assigning it an application brush, round or flat so that we don’t mix this gel with colored gel or builder gel that doesn’t have any adhesion properties.

Doing so can affect the staying power of your gel base and thereby cause lifting. 

Suggested brush:

As far as what brush is best suited for gel base application…


#2 Potted Top Gel

We’re always looking for the best top gel. Which one is shinier, clearer, and doesn’t scratch? The purpose of tog gel is to add a high gloss finish to our gel manicure while sealing the color or design for max wear. In other words, w/o top gel our work would wear off or fade.

What would happen should you accidentally drop a dollop of top gel and the tiniest amount of color gel to that dollop, it would be ruined, your clear gel would no longer be clear, and at best you would have a jelly color.

So if you’re using the same brush for color gel and top gel, even if you think you’ve cleaned out all the color, you still have the possibility of making your topcoat cloudy and dulling that shine. So make sure you use one brush for that perfect shiny, glass-like finish.

If you also have a potted matte topcoat, you’ll want a separate brush for that, too. No one likes a streaky matte topcoat!

So let’s review the base gel’s purpose and suggested brush to designate…


What kind of brush is best:

#3 Builder Gels

Your builder gel would be the most forgiving should you contaminate it.

As I mentioned earlier, builder gels do not have adhesion properties.

So their purpose is to provide strength and structure for your gel extensions. The longevity of your work relies on these properties. You don’t want to compromise this product by combining it with other products like base gel, topcoat, or color.

So let’s review base gel’s purpose and suggested brush to designate…


What kind of brush is best:

#4 Glitter!

Just like when you do crafts, and it feels like you’re finding glitter all over your house for the rest of forever, once you use a brush for a glitter gel, that glitter is there to stay. It gets trapped in the bristles of the brush and it can be a pain to clean it all out. And once you think you do, your solid blue color suddenly has a rogue glitter.

So do yourself a favor and keep a separate brush just for your glitter colors. This will save you so many headaches. 

So let’s review base gel’s purpose and suggested brush to designate…


What kind of brush is best:

#5 Colors

We recommend two, one for dark colors and the other for light colors. 

There are two ways to guarantee that you won’t mix colors in your brush as you work. One is to completely clean the color out of your brush with clear gel in between colors. Let’s be real, though; nobody has time for that, especially not your client. Option two is to get one brush per color. Yes, I know, that’s completely impractical! Who even has space for that many brushes?

It’s inevitable that while you’re working on your nuance art or choosing a different color per nail for your client, you’re going to have some color trapped in the bristles when switching from one to another. When you’re quickly switching between colors, you’ll notice that the previous color may seep out the back of the bristles. If you’re not wiping the brush often enough, you run the risk of a streaky application. And if the first color was black and the next color is white, let’s be real, it will come out gray, even if it’s just the slightest bit off-white. 

So let’s review base gel’s purpose and suggested brush to designate…


What kind of brush is best:

So we recommend two brushes for your colors, one for light colors and one for dark colors. This keeps your streaks to a minimum since there won’t be any drastic shade changes. 

By the way, one good question I get asked about assigning brushes to your core gels is, Do I have to assign a gel brush to different brands of my base gels?

That is completely up to you, but one of the reasons you would want to say is if your client was allergic to HEMA, and you’re using a gel that doesn’t have HEMA on that client. Then you would most definitely want to assign a specific brush to that gel. Otherwise, if you’re asking me, what would  I do? I don’t always assign a brush based on brands unless I’m teaching a certification class.

With that being said, assigning brushes based on brands is not a bad idea. What I don’t want to happen is for you to have all of these brushes that you hardly use, as they will get stiff, and you would have to break them in each time. For a video on brush maintenance, click HERE.

To recap…

Well, I hope you can now see why assigning brushes to your gels is super important. Remember the five categories to assign brushes to

#1 Base gels

#2 Potted Top gels

#3 Builder gels

#4 Glitters, and

#5 Colors

Don’t forget to download my comparison chart of Favorite Japanese Gel Brand Products so that you know how each brand’s gel compares we’ve also taken the time to document how many sets each can yield based on the size of the container and the viscosity of the gel.

It is such a great valuable resource; download it HERE.

Thank you for joining us and until next time. Bye for now…

Content by Paola and Sam D’Agostino

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