In her over 20 years as a manicurist, Linda Nordstrom had seen nails damaged in every way you can imagine. As co-founder of beauty brand Famous Names with her husband Jim Nordstrom, she came up with a way to fix that.

Famous Names' IBX Nails system, launched in January 2014, is hailed as the first pre-manicure salon treatment that repairs and strengthens nails. Featuring avocado and jojoba oils and monomer technology that work from inside the nail, IBX can be used for bare nails, under polish or under gel polish.

I tried IBX before a manicure after seeing them damaged by nail wraps and was surprised to see how strong they looked after one application - they even grew faster! 

We called Linda to talk about IBX Treatment and the gel polish trend.

To begin, can you tell us about how IBX got started?

My husband and I have been in the professional nail industry for most of our lives. About five years ago, we decided I was coming out of retirement and we started looking at the beauty industry and the nail industry, specifically, to see what we felt was needed to help the industry become a little bit better.

At that time, gel polish was just breaking into the market and while we sat and listened to all these presentations about these amazing gel polishes and saw what a great opportunity gel polish was going to be, not only to our industry but to the consumer - to have their own nails and wear polish that can last for a couple weeks - but we also saw the other side of it. We thought, we're going to be putting this gel polish on, then we're going to be soaking it off, then we'll be putting it back on, and soaking it off, and started getting a little concerned about what was going to happen to the natural nail. Especially the natural nail that's not in the best shape to begin with - thin, splitting and peeling.

So we put our minds to trying to formulate something that would offset the soak-off of gel polish, and that's exactly what IBX does. Our gel polish clients can continue wearing gel polish, they don't have to take any breaks from it, as long as they're doing the treatment in between the soak off and the reapplication.

How did you develop the formula?

That was a long process, because in our industry none of us have ever been able to figure out how to make a nail product that went inside the natural nail. Everything we've done has been on the surface of the natural nail. And while that's worked great, it didn't really solve the problem. My husband, who has been in the nail industry and formulated many products in the past for his old company, had an idea on how to get IBX into the natural nail and keep it there long enough to be able to cure it inside and create that strength. It was about a three-year project for us to perfect it and it's done absolutely amazing things for natural nails. 

You're coming up on a year and a half after your launch. What has the reaction been like?

It's been absolutely crazy. Right now, we have IBX in about 34 countries and we realize that it's only been in the market a year and a half, which isn't long for a product like that, it's been great to get so much exposure.

Do you have any stories that come to mind of someone whose nails were really, really damaged and repaired with IBX?

We have so many stories that it's hard to single out one, but some of the things that have been really effecting me, being a co-founder of the company, is that we have been getting reports from nail techs that they have been using IBX to treat after-chemo nails. That's been really exciting, because I don't know if you've ever seen what people's nails look like after they've been through chemo, but it's not a pretty sight. For these women who have gone through losing their hair and their nails getting all messed up, IBX has been able to treat those nails and after two or three treatments, it gets them on track to being back where they were before they started chemo.

Gel manicures have become so popular within the last few years. Do you think gel manicures are the reason why we're seeing so many damaged nails?

I don't think so. If you look before gel polish, we did acrylics and we did gel. And before you put acrylic gel on, you have to file the surface of the nail plate. So I'm not sure that we're seeing more damage because of gel polish. I think that now, because of gel polish, we see more women getting their nails done. They don't have to go in and have their nails filed, it's easier: you go in, you remove it, and you put it back on. I think because gel polish is so much easier and it's more readily available, we have people using it.

And I don't say that gel polish itself damages the natural nail. It's the fact that most people who go in to get their nails done, before they go in, probably don't have the best nails in the world. They're probably splitting or peeling or thin, and that's why they go to the nail salon, to make their nails better. That's what IBX does, it takes nails that are naturally like that and gets them in better shape so whatever we put on top of them, whether it's a gel manicure or traditional polish, you're going to get better results because you have a stronger, more flexible nail to start out with.

IBX is just in salons right now. Are there any plans to make an at-home version?

Not just yet. It would be hard to do at this point because it is a nail product and all nail products need to stay off the skin for the safety and health of the surrounding tissue around the nail.

What's next for IBX?

We're working on a few things. We're working on some backup products to help during the application of IBX, and we do have a couple of other really innovative products on the drawing board that we've started working on. We only want to come out with a product if it's going to be unique and innovative. We don't want to copy people and have another gel polish or whatever. We only want to come out with products that will really and truly change the industry, which is exactly what IBX has done.

Is there anything else we should mention?

With IBX, with every treatment you get, your nails get stronger and stronger. If you go and get a couple of IBX treatments, once you've got your nails where you want them, that's when you back off on your treatments and get them every three to four weeks, like myself. Right now, I do a treatment once a month. We don't want it to be something that a consumer has to come in every week. The goal is to get your nails where you want them and then just have maintenance - like coloring your hair.

This article was originally published on Fashion & Style