Weak, damaged, flaky, dry and acetone weary nails are about to catch a break, and not in that way. Here’s how IBX works, and why it’s probably the single best nail repair treatment out there
US company CND technically spearheaded the gel manicure under the name of Shellac , which you’ll agree has enjoyed some moderate success (!), and the brand’s ex-CEO subsequently went on to develop a similarly innovative system of nail repair. Perhaps inspired by the millions of thirsty nails taking regular baths in acetone post-Shellac session, but we’ll gloss over that.
IBX may sound like some kind of military acronym, but say it to any manicurist and you’re likely to receive glowing reports of how it’s brought clients’ nails back from the brink. While it’s not new - it launched in the UK in 2014 - there’s still nothing out there to rival its rehab potential. Here’s what makes it unique, who it helps and where to get IBX’ed.
What makes IBX different
In a word: penetration. I’ll explain further. IBX uses conditioning monomers (molecules that bond together) that are able to penetrate the nail plate under gentle heat, strengthening the natural nail by filling in gaps and ridges and providing a protective shield to prevent nails from breaking. As such, natural nails are able to grow longer, nails look and feel healthier and they should be able to better weather the likes of gel polish removal without drying out or peeling (although heed nail legend Marian Newman’s gel manicure ‘dos and don’ts’ to ensure that your polish is being removed correctly).
What happens during an IBX appointment
If you’re going in blind, you might find it all very weird, but once you’ve sussed the science all of the waving your hand under lamps will start to make sense.
1. IBX Repair, a clear solution that works to remedy weakness and damage, is applied to clean, dry nails onto any areas that are particularly vulnerable before you place them under a lamp for a few minutes to allow the formula to sink in and ‘seal’ the nail plate. The ideal temperature at which the IBX Repair melts and gets down to business is around 41-43ºC, but your average desk lamp is about right.
2. Your technician will now blot your nails, which feels counterintuitive but ensures that the reparative solution sinks in deep, as well as removing any excess from the top of the nail plate to prepare for the next step.
3. Now for the curing, a stage you’ll be familiar with if you’re a gel mani regular. You simply put your hands into a UV lamp and the solution cures in the same time frame as your usual Shellac or similar. Your technician will then wipe your nails clean.
4. A second black bottle of solution appears, and it’s the main player. IBX Strengthen. If you’ve got healthy nails overall, your technician may skip the Repair stage and do two rounds of Strengthen instead. This clear layer acts as the real tough guy, creating nail plate ‘integrity’ and filling every gap and crack (sorry) to create a strong, uniform nail throughout.
5. Back to hovering hands under the regular lamp, for four minutes this time.
7. Cure with UV lamp.
8. Clean the nail
These steps will then be repeated with Strengthen, but with less regular lamp time - just two minutes.
It all sounds faffy on paper, but in my experience the whole process takes around fifteen minutes, and nails look instantly smoother and stronger. You can then have a regular or gel manicure over the top, and the effects will last until your nails grow out, although for very weak nails it’s recommended to have an IBX treatment every fortnight for a few months to get them back on the road. Otherwise, once a month (or even less) will keep nails rock hard, hydrated and far less prone to breakage.
Many also report that the natural colour of their nail improves (healthy pinks and whites), but it’s the condition boost that I’m really impressed with - I don’t feel so guilty about booking in for gels back to back, but equally I go polish free for weeks and they look shiny and generally in good shape. Add in regular dousings of cuticle oil and you’re golden.
More and more salons are offering IBX, but often it’s labelled simply as a ‘strengthening treatment’, so ask what this entails. I booked in at the newly opened Townhouse in London’s Great Portland Street, which offers IBX as an addition to a regular manicure (with or without polish) or gel manicure for £15. In my view, it’s worth every penny for non-peely nails.
Book an appointment at Townhouse here