Nail Fills 101: Why Should You Fill Your Nails?

Do you do fills on your nails? This is my go-to process for re-doing my gel nails and I want to dedicate some time to it so you can start too! I truly swear by it for keeping my nails strong and being able to grow them longer. 

What is a fill? 

Filling your nails means that instead of fully removing your gel (aka soaking it off with acetone) every time you re do them, you just remove the grown out portion of your manicure about 80-90%, prep your nails and fill in the grown out part with a brand new manicure.

Why do I love fills? 

Ultimately because it prevents you from ever overprepping your natural nail. You know how people say that gel manicures/dip manicures/press ons ruin your nails? That’s because you are doing too much to your natural nail bed whether you’re peeling off your gel, ripping off your press ons, filing or buffing your nails too much, any of that is going to be too harsh on your natural nails and will cause them to feel weak, sometimes hurt, they’ll be flimsy, it’s not good! 

So when you leave 10-20% of your gel manicure on your nails at all times like you can when you do fills, your natural nails have a really strong protective layer on at all times, and when you prep your nails, you are prepping that layer of gel and it’s not causing any damage like I mentioned above! So your nails stay strong, it gives your new gel layer something to grip on to, your nails can grow, and they don’t break! 

This is the thing that really clicked for me…

When you’re doing a fill on your nails, not only do the tools/process matter but the gel products that you use are super important too. You can’t just do a fill with any gel product. For example, a thin hybrid gel like shellac or opi is not going to be good for doing fills. You really need to use a gel that’s meant to stay on your nails for a long period of time, and using builder gel is also important so that you protect your natural nails even more (especially when using an e-file, it just adds even more protection so that you don’t file on your natural nail). 

Do I ever fully remove my gel anymore?

TBH no…. I HATE soaking off gel with acetone. Even if I’m super gentle, if my nails are long, without builder gel, they still feel weak compared to how they felt with builder gel. So unless I’m planning to take it off and cut my nails super short, I’m having gel on at all times! 

Don’t you need to remove your gel to let your nails breathe? 

Nails don’t need to breathe :) I get this question alot! It’s not a real thing. If your nails feel weak and damaged when you’re using gel, you are probably prepping them too much or there’s something else wrong with your method/tools. As long as you are doing my exact process and using high quality products, and using your best judgement when analyzing your nails, you should be fine! 

What about greenies? 

Greenies are a build up of bacteria that form when moisture gets underneath your nails. This can happen with press ons, gel, dip, acrylic, literally any nail enhancement that has some sort of lifting where moisture can get in. If you get a greenie, take off your gel all the way (this is a time when you really should be doing a full acetone soak off sadly). It will start to die as soon as it’s exposed to air! I would suggest giving your nails a break and letting the greenie grow out before you reapply your gel. It should go away on its own, but of course please see a medical professional if there are any issues. 

I also highly suggest using a gel base that is meant to be worn for extended periods of time… more on this below!

My favorite products for doing a fill + some important notes:

  • Builder gel: 
    • Nail Thoughts tinted builder bases! 
      • You know I love these so much!! Since they’re tinted, it is important to make sure you’re taking off that sweet spot of 80-90% of the color to check on your natural nails to make sure there aren’t any issues that need to addressed (like a greenie, because it will be hard to see if you don’t remove enough of the color)
    • Kokoist Platinum Filler Base
      • Ok I LOVE this base for fills because it’s literally meant to be filled and worn for ever and ever and ever. It’s HEMA free and it’s actually formulated with nonocoloids that kill bacteria, so it prevents greenies/any other issues before they can even start. I use this one alllll the time, it’s definitely a favorite of mine. 
  • E-File

Ok so how do you do it? 

  • Remove your grown out manicure 80-90 percent
    • Only remove the top coat, the color, and debulk your built up builder base
    • Prep your nails as you normally would
    • Cleanse
    • Re-apply builder base, color and top! 

Want to see exactly how I do this and learn even more? 

You will absolutely love my new Advanced Gel Manicure Course! It’s 2 hours + of instructional content showing you this exact process. 

I’ve combined my knowledge and experience into this video to teach you everything so that you feel confident and comfortable doing this process on yourself, for manicures that actually last, that keep your nails healthy, and help you grow them longer. I’m really excited about this new course and I hope you love it and learn so much! 

Be sure to use code KARA10 for 10% off your first course purchase! 


PS!!! If you only want to see the Builder Gel or E-File Fill portion of this course, I split them in half for you! 

Let me know if you have any questions and be sure to check out the course pages for way more info too! I can't wait to see your nails :)

Here are some additional resources from my blog that you might find helpful!



Kokoist x Nail Thoughts Builder Gel Bases Review + Hybrid Gel and Pure Gel Explained!

How I'm Growing My Nails & Keeping Them Strong With Builder Gel!

The Ultimate Guide To Making Your Gel Manicure Last!

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