Whether your nails are pretty OK, in need of some restorative help, or (almost) beyond repair, this sealing in-salon treatment is a total saviour.
Anyone who’s a dedicated gel polish or acrylics fan knows the pain of nervously awaiting what lies beneath the lacquer. If you’ve had back to back appointments without giving your nails a break, they’re most likely worse for wear and in need of some restorative love – and having everything removed properly is an absolute must.
I usually avoid gel polish (I’m really bad at leaving it on for too long) but have had it three times over three months. After one particularly bad removal at a nail salon (the gel wasn’t soaked for long enough and was pretty much peeled off – ouch), my nails were in the most fragile state I’d ever experienced. I couldn’t pick up my towel post-shower without them bending to the point of nearly snapping, and I slept with my hands in loose fists because brushing them against my sheets actually hurt. I continued getting gel polish (elsewhere) to try and keep the damaged areas protected, but every time the gel came off, my nails were flaking and brittle underneath.
When I visited Ama The Salon in Brixton, known for its divine nail art and cosy luxe settings, the founder Ama suggested an IBX treatment to repair my nails. “It works in a similar way to Olaplex for damaged hair,” she explained. “When gel or acrylics are removed roughly, it can create ridges and gaps in the nail which lead to flaking and breakage – IBX fills these gaps in.”
Made up of nurturing molecules that bond together when gently heated, IBX forms a shield over the natural nail that lasts until it completely grows out. It’s perfect for every situation, where you’re trying to give your nails a detox in between appointments, want something as a buffer underneath gel polish, or are just trying to grow them long and strong.
It’s applied in two stages: Strengthen and Repair. The Strengthen foundation layer is painted on, cured under a desk lamp, blotted to remove the excess product, then cured properly under a UV lamp, and can be used without the Repair if nails aren’t in a dire state. If used, the Repair stage is painted on before Strengthen and cured in the same way.
“Make sure the Strengthen formula is allowed to cure for four minutes – no less – under the desk lamp if it’s your first IBX treatment,” advises Ama. “It’s the required time recommended by the brand, but some places shorten it for efficiency – it’s worth insisting on those extra two minutes for your first time.”
My nails instantly felt stronger, and looked shinier and pinker. I had a couple of those pesky white dots – which Ama says isn’t down to calcium deficiency, but trauma to the nail – but by the end of the treatment they’d completely vanished. It’s been just a week and a half since my appointment, and my nails have been sturdy enough to pick up towels, books, and boxes of beauty products. With just a couple of coats of normal nail polish, they don’t even need thick gel to stop them from snapping. It’s such a relief to know that there’s a solution should I ever suffer from a nail emergency again.
The IBX treatment is available for £35 on its own, or for £20 as an add-on under varnish or gel at amathesalon.com.
Main image: Getty
Image: Ava Welsing-Kitcher