Pati Laubenstein is owner of Pati’s Nail Parlour, a nail specialty salon located in Phoenix., Arizona. 

Feet!--- Show me a woman who likes her feet and I’d like to meet her. Is the following scenario familiar to you? Your client is sitting across from you for her regular fill-in appointment. Towards the back of the salon she notices a lady having a pedicure. “That must be wonderful,” she tells you.

Since I and we have had pedicures for years, we can tell her how pleasurable a pedicure is and share firsthand knowledge of the procedure with her. Nine times out of 10 the client will schedule an appointment for her first pedicure with many more to follow. That is what usually happens in my salon.

But let me share something else... One day, after my usual “pedicure” spiel, a very attractive executive let’s call her Kay, confided in me that she didn’t have complete toenails on her big toes. The impact of this minor disfigurement loomed larger than life for this woman, making her feel like an “outcast on a beach of pretty feet.” The cosmetic importance of the pedicure took a back seat to the psychological benefits to be reaped, if only I could help her. Suddenly, this issue became one of the biggest professional challenges I’d ever had---and out of it, the concept of sculptured toenails was born!

We file, work until our shoulders burn perfecting the art of sculptured fingernails, but no one ever mentions sculptured toenails. Well, nothing like a good challenge! Let me back-track for a moment to the psychological outcome of putting sculptured toenails on a woman before I explain the practical. This particular woman who got me moving in this direction is a very successful bank executive. She dressed impeccably, always wearing pumps. She reached a point in her career where she could travel; Hawaii was next. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to wear pretty sandals in Hawaii without embarrassment, but how could she with only partial big toenails. After repeated problems with ingrown toenails, her doctor decided to remove 90 percent of the big toenail. What she actually had was a stump of sorts close to the base of the cuticle. I suggested a sculptured toenail. She laughed, but within a few minutes she realized I was the ticket away from the embarrassment of her feet.

The day arrived for the scheduled “toenails”. The first objective was to give Kay a pedicure. Even though all of her toenails were abnormal in the fact that they were very thick and clumpy, I opted to apply sculptured nails to her big toes only. I drilled and flatted all of the small toenails, making them look somewhat normal. I also flattened the misshapen big toenails with a drill. This step replaced buffing the natural nail. I then primed the toenails twice allowing primer to dry to the white stage. Choosing a form was my next task. No matter how much I trimmed a paper form it would not lie properly, so I opted for a metal clamp-type form which worked perfectly.

Using sculpting product, I built the nail as accurately as possible. There was little filing to do. For some reason, toenails seem to fall perfectly in place. I shaped the nail using an emery board and buffed to a glass finish with 320 tri-m-ite sandpaper. After that, it was the normal polishing to complete the job. The results were amazing.

The smile on my clients face will never be forgotten. The sculptured toenails do not have to be filled in, as toenails that have had surgical procedures performed on them have very little or no growth. I have found that they will stay on for approximately five months.

Another surgical procedure affecting toenails is nail transplant, M.S. MacCollum, M.D., a prominent plastic surgeon in the Phoenix, Arizona area, has successfully removed a section of the big toenail and transplanted it to a finger where a nail has been injured or missing. Neither looks 100 percent natural, but the transplanted section, usually one or both sides of a toenail, attached to the matrix area of the finger, will give the manicurist a base on which to bond a sculptured nail. Always remember to keep the sculptured nail short so that there isn’t a chance of catching the nail and possibly tearing everything away.

With sculptured toenails, it is important to be sure all edges are tight to the toe, eliminating any protruding edges in the event the toe is stubbed: That way the nail won’t be pulled loose. It takes only approximately 24 hours to get accustomed to these nails. They don’t feel awkward or uncomfortable in closed shoes, and suddenly pumps seems to find their way to the back of the closet!!

In my salon, a pedicure is priced at $18. I charge a little extra for sculptured toenails; you may charge anywhere from $6 to $7.50 each depending on the area of the salon. This figure is over and above the pedicure, of course. Also, I make suggestions in the summertime of a small bouquet of daisies, handpainted, along the inside edge of the nail. You can see how easy $30 plus can exchange hands. If you are just starting a salon and would like some popularity around town, word will travel fast in your city that you can offer a service no one else is making available. It works both ways. Two toenails could also bring you a full set of sculptured fingernails.

The mutual satisfaction gained from the experience with Kay was a high point in my career. Kay felt lovely, feminine, and for the first time in many years, a “complete” woman. “Men walk a mile for a Camel,” but a woman will travel 100 miles for nails---which Kay does each spring for the experience. My fulfilment came from meeting the challenge and seeing a very happy Kay walk out the door on her way to the shoestore!

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