What you need to know about Bio Sculpture manicures before booking in – according to the pros

Considering swapping your regular gels for Bio Sculpture? Here's everything you need to consider *before* you do

A close up of hand with a pale pink, glossy manicure/ in a pink watercolour paint-style template
(Image credit: Getty Images/Mariia Demchenko)

Up until a few years ago, I had never heard of Bio Sculpture. Like many of my peers, my nail journey began with acrylic nails (long, square French tips were de rigueur in the '00s) before moving on to the more natural-looking shellac nails. It was only when a colleague introduced me to Harriet Westmoreland – Rochelle Humes' go-to manicurist – on Instagram, that I became aware of the gel brand Bio Sculpture.

Unbeknown to me, Bio Sculpture nails have been around for decades. In fact, it is the original gel polish brand, having launched the first-ever soak-off gel ("Clear Gel") back in 1988. Bridging the gap between a strengthening nail treatment and a gel overlay, Bio Sculpture paved the way for many more soak-off gel nail treatments, including BIAB nails, CND shellac and Gelish.

Unlike acrylics, which need to be filed off, these "soakable" gel alternatives lift away from the nail without damaging the nail plate. The difference between them is how they’re formulated and the technique used to apply them. Favoured by several manicurists and celebrities alike, Bio Sculpture has become one of the most requested nail services in-salon. Ahead, we break down why – and what else you need to know before booking in.

What to know before booking Bio Sculpture, per nail pros

Despite its long history, Bio Sculpture has only made its way into the spotlight in the past few years or so. Now seemingly everywhere, the hashtag #biosculpture pulls up over 600k posts on Instagram and, at the time of writing, has amassed an impressive 31.7 million views on TikTok. As mentioned, even I – a beauty editor – only really discovered the treatment after being introduced to nail artist Harriet Westmoreland's Bio Sculpture offerings on Instagram.

According to the pros, this surge in interest is due to increased awareness around nail health, with clients keen to use products that protect their natural nails. "Bio Sculpture is a prescriptive gel nail treatment, meaning that one product doesn’t fit all," says nail artist Julia Diogo (also known as @paintedbyjools). "The brand has a variety of gel base coats that help to support different nail types, from weak and flexible to strong and healthy." It’s this personalised touch and focus on nail health that first attracted Diogo – who now uses it exclusively – to the brand.

But what is Bio Sculpture, exactly? A vegan gel nail enhancement, it's painted directly onto the nails in thin layers using a brush before curing under a UV lamp. Then, when it’s time for removal, it can be soaked off.

Been weighing up BIAB vs gel nails? It may be worth considering Bio Sculpture, too. Here, we break down six things to know before booking in for this nail treatment. 

1. Bio Sculpture prioritises nail health

As mentioned, this treatment prioritises the health of your natural nails. "Biosculpture offers an Ethos range that treats and supports the natural nail and helps to improve a wide variety of nail conditions," says Diogo. "This is something that other gel brands don’t offer, which makes it a standout brand."

The range includes cuticle oils, exfoliators and vitamin-rich base coats that are designed to be applied before the Bio Sculpture gel base and colour. "Your Ethos treatment, which goes under every Bio Sculpture gel manicure, will be tailored to your specific nail type to help improve your nail health," Diogo adds.

2. Appointments can take up to 2 hours

If you’re after a quick lunchtime manicure, Bio Sculpture is probably not the service for you. "For me, a full application of Bio Sculpture will usually take one hour and 30 minutes," says Diogo. This is because of the time it takes to prep the nails, which she notes "takes the longest – but it’s the most important part, as a well-prepped canvas is what allows your manicure to stay intact."

After having shellac for years and switching over to Bio Sculpture, I was surprised by the lengthy appointment time. But, in my opinion, the results are so worth it. At London-based salon DryBy, appointments take between 75 and 90 minutes for single colour and French nails without removal. However, "[The time] does depend on the nail artists’ preparation method – whether they use manual tools or electric files," notes Krisztina van der Boom, DryBy's co-founder. 

3. Your manicure will last and last

Another big selling point of Bio Sculpture is how well it lasts. I found that with shellac, my manicure would remain intact for one week before chipping and peeling off, whereas with Bio Sculpture, you get a high-shine, glossy finish that stays put for weeks. "My clients will return every three-to-four weeks for removal,” says Diogo, who recommends applying moisturiser and oils in between appointments to boost longevity.

"Our experience at DryBy is that Bio Sculpture is chosen by customers who look for longevity on the nails beyond two weeks and are happy with a harder gel product," adds van der Boom. "The original CND shellac formulation is typically preferred by customers who like to change gels every seven to 10 days and therefore prefer a soft, hybrid gel-polish."

4. It's possible to remove at home

While it's always best to see a trained professional for this, it is possible to remove Bio Sculpture at home. To do so, follow Diogo’s advice: "Buff the top layer to remove shine before placing an acetone-soaked cotton pad on top of each nail and wrapping it in foil." Diogo recommends doing one hand at a time for ease and waiting at least 10 minutes before removing the foil wraps. "This will give the acetone enough time to penetrate the gel," she explains.

5. Bio Sculpture technicians must be trained

Unlike other gel nail brands, technicians who use Bio Sculpture must complete an accredited training course before they can offer this gel system. "In my opinion, this is a great thing," says Diogo. "It allows clients to have full trust in their manicurist." This is also the reason why Bio Sculpture isn’t as widely accessible as other gel brands, as you must be trained to purchase and use it.

6. The results look natural

"Bio Sculpture is a thick product as it is 100% gel," says Diogo. "However, it is applied in thin, even coats, so it doesn’t look thick at all once the manicure is complete."

At DryBy, some clients request the "arch-building technique". "This is where the technician uses the gel to build a beautiful arch on the nails," explains van der Boom. "The product is applied slightly thicker, but it gives a very aesthetic finish."

Why we think Bio Sculpture is a great option

If you’re after a long-lasting manicure that looks natural, Bio Sculpture is one of the best gel nail systems we’ve tried. While the appointment time can be lengthy (varying between 75 and 90 minutes, depending on add-ons such as nail art and/or removal), it’s so worth it for the flawless finish that stays put for up to four weeks.

While there are several other gel nail systems available, Bio Sculpture is one of the best for protecting the natural nail (thanks to its Ethos range) and encouraging healthy nail growth. It’s also reassuring to know that every technician who offers their services has completed an accredited training course, meaning you can pretty much guarantee a good manicure every time.

If you like to switch up your nail look on the regular or prefer a quick, in-and-out appointment, Bio Sculpture is probably not for you. But if you can put the time aside to try it, we’d highly recommend that you do – the healthy-looking, clean finish is so worthy of the appointment time.

Our Bio Sculpture nail care kit

For those considering Bio Sculpture nails – or any in-salon nail treatment, for that matter – nail care is key. As such, we've rounded up a few nourishing staples above to add to your beauty arsenal.

Emma Stoddart

Emma Stoddart is a freelance beauty journalist and self-confessed skincare aficionado with over five years’ industry experience. Emma has worked for some of the UK’s top women’s titles including Net-A-Porter, Stylist and Grazia. Her experience spans online and print as well as producing editorial shoots with some of the industry’s biggest artists, including Val Garland. Asides from working with them behind the scenes, she’s also had the chance to interview the likes of Patrick Ta, Pat McGrath, and Sam McKnight for all their insider tips and tricks.