Saturday, August 9, 2014

IBX Nail Strengthening System Demo & Review for Professionals

As a 22+ year beauty industry professional specializing in nails, I am as thrilled as beauty school graduation day whenever a promising new nail product enters the market. With the invention of gel nail polish circa 2011, the nail industry changed overnight. It was the single greatest thing to happen for manicurists since the mid-1980s brought us safe (ethyl methacrylate) acrylic liquid! I often wondered what it must have been like for those techs learning and troubleshooting with acrylic nails for the first time. Like being dropped in the middle of a jungle and whacking your way through to civilization with a machete, or in our case a 100-grit nail file, now I know. The last 3 1/2 years of trying to get it right with gel manicures has been a challenge. With manufacturers changing their training instructions and every different gel polish company having different products and procedures, it has been at times a frustrating yet rewarding challenge. I am eternally grateful for the patience and understanding of my clientele as I slowly learned and honed my techniques over the years. 

We've been in this gel manicure game long enough now that we can no longer pretend that the removal of gel polish is always gentle and non-damaging to the wearer's natural nails. It can be and should be but it just doesn't always go that way in the busy time-constrained salon environment. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. Thank goodness for Famous Names, LLC and their newest product IBX!!!!

If you do gel manicures and you care about the health and condition of your clients' nails, then you need to have this product on hand. The IBX 2-step system was created for all natural nail clients whether they wear gel polish, normal nail polish or no polish at all. The thing that sets this product apart from any other nail strengthener is that it absorbs into the nail as opposed to sitting on top of the nail. Step 1 is called Repair. It's like the "base coat" of the system. Repair absorbs into the nail and lays down the foundation like double-sided sticky tape. Step 2 is called IBX. It's like the "top coat" of the system. It also absorbs into the nail and creates a strong but flexible weave with the Repair that the manufacturer calls IPN (inner penetrating network).
In only 2 months of using the IBX system regularly on my natural nail clients, I have seen the following improvements: 

  • splits fusing back together
  • ridges smoothing out
  • weak flexible nails becoming hard and solid
  • gel polish staying on longer with less peeling/chipping
  • Vinylux polish staying on for 2 weeks (!!!)

I can no longer imagine doing manicures without this product. I have the procedure down to where it only takes between 5-15 minutes. All you need besides the IBX kit is an LED lamp, a normal 75 watt light bulb or tiny hair dryer as a heat source, nail cleanser & 99% alcohol. The IBX kit comes with 2 bottles, Repair and IBX. Here is the procedure breakdown depending on whether you're applying to a gel polish client or a manicure client:

Gel Polish Client
Start by gently removing the gel polish completely. Shape the nails. Cleanse nails with a lint-free wipe saturated with a nail cleanser like CND Scrub Fresh. Shake the Repair bottle. Apply a very thin coat of Repair to all nails being careful to avoid the surrounding skin. Place your client's nails approximately 8" from a heat source (light bulb, hairdryer) for 1 MINUTE. Lightly blot the excess Repair from the nails with a dry lint-free wipe and cure them in your LED lamp for whatever the manufacturer's recommended cure time for gel polish is. (I use OPI's LED lamp for 30 seconds). Wipe nails with cleanser or 99% alcohol. Shake the IBX bottle. Apply a very thin coat of IBX in the same manner that you applied the Repair. Place client's hands under your heat source for 2 MINUTES. Blot, cure, wipe with cleanser. *For first time applications, it is necessary to heat the first coat of IBX for 4 MINUTES, blot, cure, cleanse and then apply a 2nd coat of IBX placing your client's hands under the heat source for the usual 2 MINUTES. Blot, cure, wipe with cleanser.* Proceed with your gel manicure as normal.

Basic Manicure Client
Start by removing nail polish completely. Shape the nails. Cleanse nails with a lint-free wipe saturated with a nail cleanser like CND Scrub Fresh. Shake the Repair bottle. Apply the Repair as a spot treatment to any splits, ridges, divots, damaged or peeling areas being careful to avoid the surrounding skin. Place your client's nails approximately 8" from a heat source (light bulb, hairdryer) for 1 MINUTE. Lightly blot the excess Repair from the nails with a dry lint-free wipe and cure them in your LED lamp for whatever the manufacturer's recommended cure time for gel polish is. (I use OPI's LED lamp for 30 seconds). *Do not blot the nail if you are using the Repair to fuse the layers of a peeling/delaminated nail back together, go directly to cure.* Wipe nails with cleanser or 99% alcohol. Shake the IBX bottle. Apply a very thin coat of IBX in the same manner that you applied the Repair. Place client's hands under your heat source for 2 MINUTES. Blot, cure, wipe with cleanser. *For first time applications, it is necessary to heat IBX for 4 MINUTES, blot, cure, cleanse then apply a 2nd coat of IBX placing your client's hands under the heat source for the usual 2 MINUTES. Blot, cure, wipe with cleanser.* Proceed with your manicure as normal.

UPDATE, NOVEMBER 2014: I was so thrilled with this incredible new product and how it has increased my client happiness and loyalty factor exponentially that I wanted to become an educator for Famous Names...and they accepted me! I couldn't be more proud to say that I am now working with award-winning Famous Names Products and I'm very excited about this new chapter in my professional career!

For more information or to purchase the IBX system (PROFESSIONALS ONLY):

Looking for a nail tech in the Las Vegas area who uses IBX?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Life Changes: Why I Dislike Music Festivals & Arena Rock Concerts

It is no secret to anyone how much I love some kinds of music. Music makes everything in my life except sleeping that much more enjoyable. I am therefore always drawn to places that have live music as I appreciate being surrounded by such kinds of talent.
However, one thing I never really talk about...and it may come as a huge surprise to many people who know me... is how much I dread attending large arena-style rock concerts. I'm convinced there's a vile place in hell for outdoor concert festivals as well. Of course, there are the traffic jams both in and out, plus the parking nightmares. (hello Woodstock!) Then there is the never ending challenge of being able to see the stage due to the people around and in front me who are either tall or moving around too much. It takes some social adeptness to be able to assess the obnoxiousness level of those around you at general admission shows and I've gotten pretty good at it, but inevitably some asshole always elbows his way in. I have forever despised the people who think concerts are just a big party for getting shit-faced wasted and don't even bother watching or listening to the band. On top of avoiding obnoxious drunks, I then aim to avoid inconsiderate smokers since I like to breathe while I'm trying to enjoy a show! And by the way, the reality is that all smokers are technically inconsiderate if they're lighting up in a public place because their smoke is going into everyone else's lungs regardless of where they hold their hand. Then there are the really big guys who push everyone out of their way and the aggressive assholes who throw drinks at people. All this to deal with while trying to appreciate talented artists playing their passions out on a stage!! It's just not worth it!!

There was once a time when I knew a lot of "important" people. I was always part of the inner circle and I was protected from the aforementioned experiences. I never had to mingle with the peons, so to speak, unless I wanted to. But over the last 6 years or so, that all began to change. Some people moved on and either forget about or no longer have room for me in their lives (or guest lists!) Most devastatingly of all, one of my closest friends who had all the connections and always looked out for me, died suddenly and unexpectedly. I woke up one day having to get concert tickets the normal way, I had no guest list pass and had to fend for myself in the crowd. "Oh poor spoiled snobby girl!" you might say. Say what you will. I don't fit in here. This is not where I belong.
I've tolerated this shit for way too many years. Especially now that the average ticket price for any large arena show in my city is around $100+, rock concerts and the mean, trashy heathens that attend them can kiss my music appreciating ass. I can count on less than 2 hands the musical acts I would still pay that price to see. (Robert Plant, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, The Black Crowes, Foo Fighters, Guns N Roses) I even boycotted Collective Soul the last time they played at the Hard Rock Hotel pool for the main reason that the last time they played there, maybe 400 people attended specifically to enjoy the music while another 1200 people were there just to "party" and act obnoxious. It's not fun. You're fooling yourself if you say it is.

I'm sorry my concert-going friends, I always appreciate your invites but I'm going to be a lot more choosy about where I spend my time and money. If it's not a small cozy venue or side stage as a guest of the band, you won't be seeing me struggling to defend my air and space at these miserable concert experiences anymore. To make my resolve loud and clear, next weekend I'm sadly choosing to pass up a band I've always wanted to see (NIN) to instead hang out at one of the greatest blues bars in the country listening to the son of a southern rock legend while lounging in a comfortable environment with good food and drinks and mostly nice people.  My aim is to surround myself with others that have class and maturity and I can no longer allow myself to be dragged down by the God-less energy that I feel in these places. THIS my friends, from now on, is how I am gonna roll. You're either along for the ride or left in my dust. Onward and upward...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Original Hipster: Always There First

It all began in Kindergarten. I thought the song "Shake Your Booty" by KC & the Sunshine Band was really funny. I decided to be sassy and start singing it in front of my class at the end of a school day, figuring all the other kids knew the song and would think I was funny. Only one kid knew it and he sang it with me and we giggled and giggled and made everybody laugh. I remember walking away wondering why nobody else had ever heard that song before.

From that point on, I obsessed over the radio, rolling the dial up and down slowly and listening to every station. My likes and dislikes formed naturally, uninfluenced by anyone else. Then in 5th grade I discovered a couple kids that were just as bananas over Styx's "Too Much Time On My Hands" and AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds" as I was. How exciting to actually talk to my peers about something I liked and have them "get it!" That's when I started to receive confirmation and validation that I had damn good taste and a natural recognition for things that were "cool." I began to read music publications like Hit Parader, Circus & Creem magazines and confidently presented myself as a rock music know it all.
By middle school, I was so hungry for new music and had met a group of friends of the same mindset. One friend in particular, Mike, can be credited for turning me on to both Motley Crue and Metallica long before anyone in northern Indiana knew who they were. I eagerly lapped up anything he wanted to share with me. Guns N Roses, on the other hand was my own personal discovery during the summer of '87 and I spent the next 6 months or so telling everyone I knew that they had to check out this band because they were going to be the next big thing!! I was not only 2 steps ahead of my peers musically (thanks in part to Mike) but also fashion-wise as well.  As a matter of fact, it drove me absolutely insane whenever I would come to school with some cool new accessory or fashion statement that I had visualized mentally and agonizingly sought out for weeks or months (in the days before you could find something instantly via the internet) and a week later, several others were copying my style. I realize now that's a huge compliment but it pissed me off to no end. Be authentic! Be original! At least be creative enough to conceal your fucking sources!

I've been wearing either vibrant colors or feathers in my hair since pretty much forever. I have Bohemian and rebellious hippie blood, an endless inner battle going on inside me between being "natural" and trying to make myself look on the outside like I feel on the inside no matter what the cost. A few years back, both unnatural vibrant hair colors and hair feathers became all the rage. The world had caught up to me. I was thrilled at first. Then I looked around and noticed that everyone including their 9 year old daughter and 80 year old grandmother either had pink/blue/purple hair or feathers clipped in. Of course, I immediately went back to natural hair and wore my feathers only on special occasions. Here's a tip:  if it's cool with kids 12 and under, just stop because it's not cool anymore.

Flash back to the year 2000. I met these guys from a band called The Szuters. They were outstanding songwriters and dynamic performers and I was a massive supporter of their band. They eventually got a record deal, changed their name to Magna-Fi and toured with Ozzfest. At their CD release party, I had them sign a photograph for me. One of them wrote, "To Cari, always there before anyone else!" And that sums it up!!!  It took me a while to understand what he meant, but once I did, it felt great to have this acknowledgment.

Being "cool" or being a "hipster" or whatever they decide to call it in the next decade, is about attitude, not fashion. That's right, attitude. When I was a teenager, people who dressed the part just to fit in were called "posers." (That's how we mis-spelled it.) They had no authenticity and didn't really "get it." Every generation will have them.

So, why do I even care? What good does it do me or anyone?  
I wanted to be a leader but instead I got competitors. Now, I just want to be an example of a life lived with passionate integrity.  
And yet, I remain a paradox. 
I've spent my entire life searching for a place where I could fit in, be accepted and belong while at the same time fighting fiercely be different and set apart from average Joes. 
I am...the original hipster.

And I was "Here Before You." *wink*

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Twins Are 18!

Eighteen years ago I was suffering. I've never experienced such unbearable pain, no painkiller pills could relieve the misery. I couldn't eat and was hallucinating. I did this to myself. I chose to have breast augmentation surgery.
In 1996, I was very young and naive and didn't know much about anything. What I did know was that I weighed 120 lbs, my chest measured 32" and my hips 38" which made shopping for any clothing a depressing, frustrating hassle. Nothing fit right, very few things were flattering and I spent lots money at alteration shops. It was time to make a change. I wanted to feel good about the way I looked. I went to a flashy doctor at a big facility in a big city, seemed like the smart choice. It was a Friday and there would be no staff on duty over the weekend. I stayed the night in a hotel. They did the surgery without drainage tubes, since no one would be there during the weekend to remove them. I didn't even know use of drainage tubes was common practice. My body had to absorb everything on it's own. They didn't prescribe Valium nor any anti-anxiety nor muscle relaxing medicine for me, which I later found was also commonplace for doctors to do. What's worse was that I wasn't told that I needed to take pain medicine immediately upon filling my prescription post surgery. I was so full of morphine when I left the facility that I didn't feel a thing when I was discharged and went straight to the hotel and fell asleep. I awoke like a startling nightmare to crushing searing pain and I vomited. From that point on for the next 2 weeks, it was impossible to get a handle on the pain. I was so sick and dehydrated. Some Chinese mushroom tea was the first thing I was able to keep down after 3 days. At night, I couldn't tell if I was asleep or awake. It looked like snakes were slithering down the curtain panels. It was the longest 2 weeks of my life. I did nothing but cry between intermittent napping.
In time, my body healed. It took me a nearly a year to get used to my new body parts. I was thrilled with the way I looked and at all my new clothing options! The pain eventually was forgotten. Looking back now, I realize that had I given birth to a baby that day, I would now have an adult child. I made the choice when I was 17 that I was not going to have children and I've never once regretted the decision. Instead I chose a life of freedom....and breast implants. Some may think it's vain, slutty or somehow just wrong but for me it was none of that. The relief of having a proportionate body is immeasurable. The elation I still feel to this day to have my body on the outside match with the femininity I feel on the inside is also immeasurable. Happy birthday to the twins, although getting them was worse than childbirth, I still consider it one of the best decisions of my life.