A cosmetic adhesive disguises a lost toenail.
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Losing your toenail sounds like a little thing, until you are traveling somewhere warm on vacation or it’s sandal season here.
And there are lots of reasons for toenail loss — maybe you’re a runner and your toenails are damaged from all that road time. or, you have a nail or fungal infection (fungal infections are responsible for half of toenail disorders, and they take a long time to treat), or you suffer from diabetes, or are going through chemo — and your feet show the effect by shedding their nails.
For Maria Barile, a Cleveland barber, it was as simple as a big box falling on her big toe about five years ago. “First the nail turned black and blue and then, just in time for summer, it fell off,” she says.
She began searching for a way to deal with the unsightliness and began buying Band-aids and nail adhesives, “To the point where I should have bought stock in Johnson & Johnson.”
It seemed like every woman she’d encountered had once dealt with the same problem — loss of a toenail — but never found a solution.
Acrylic fingernails don’t work on toes, and don’t adhere to skin. The podiatrists Barile checked with didn’t have any solutions either.
So Barile decided to invent a cosmetic solution to address what is also, for many, a medical issue.
After 25 years of being a barber, she had a pool of men to check with for leads on local manufacturers who work with adhesives. she called a bunch of them for research. “It was hard because many of them didn’t return my calls or give me a meeting, ’cause I’m a peon,” she says with a laugh.
Eventually, she got different samples of adhesives, found one that would work, and fashioned a nail prototype that women can wear on exposed toes. Barile hired a patent agent to do the paperwork and ensure her idea couldn’t be stolen.
“Genius!” Barile says. “No one has ever said that word in my presence.”
The podiatrist, Dr. Jeffrey Robbins, explains why. “It’s simple, and it’s needed,” he says, because he sees so many patients who experience toenail loss.
One of Barile’s customers then referred her to a Medina manufacturer, Gasko. After a week of considering her idea, they said, “We can do it.”
“And my big thing had been, ‘Let’s make this in Northeast Ohio and keep the money here,’ ” Barile says.
Last month, the Northeast Ohio Academy of Podiatric Medicine had its fall seminar, and Barile was able to show her product, now called “Nail Creations.” she met hundreds of podiatrists and ended up filling orders from as far away as New York and Texas.
Podiatrist Richard Berkowitz is among several doctors who vouch for Barile’s invention. “It offers a solution to us, the podiatrists, but more importantly, for our patients,” he says.
Today, Barile’s latex-free adhesive wrap is available through her website, doctor’s offices and several shops. The suggested retail price is $19.95 for a box with 16 adhesive nails in assorted sizes.
“When a person is home they can apply their medication to treat their nail and wear socks and so on,” Barile says. “Or their doctor might be treating the nail with laser therapy.
“But when they need to go out and wear sandals, they can just put this on, add some nail polish to match their other toes, and then take it off when they get home.” or they can leave it on for up to two days.
(Barile has talked to her male clients about whether they’d use this, and they’ve all told her that they’d either wear socks or just put a bandage on their toenail.)
The nail cover isn’t just for big toes; it can work for any toe missing a nail. and lucky for her business, Barile says, “There are more toenails than there are people.”
If you have unsightly toenails, the first thing is to see a doctor to determine if you have an infection, and get it treated. as Barile points out, Nail Creations is not a medical device, but a temporary, cosmetic adhesive cover.
Barile isn’t looking to cash in and retire. “I love my work — it’s my life,” she says of being a barber. Her satisfaction is in having made something that helps people.
“I have a picture of a woman with a fungus on every toenail,” she says. “Now, she can at least go out with open-toe shoes. That’s what’s thrilling for me.”
Among locations selling Nail Creations are: Spray U Tan Airbrush Tanning Salon, 37936 Vine St., Willoughby; Second Sole Athletic Footwear, 5114 Mayfield Road, Lyndhurst; Vineyards Hair Design at 34726 Vine St., Eastlake; Hoopla, 15139 Pearl Road, Strongsville; The Runway at the Cleveland Arcade, 401 Euclid Ave., Cleveland; and Dr. Richard Berkowitz, 6688 Ridge Road, Parma, and 88 Center Road, Bedford.
For more information, or to see a one-minute video of how the product works, check Barile’s site, appealingwhilehealing.com or email her at email@example.com.
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