Polished Perfect nail salons expand while staying true to founder's toxic-free commitment

There is no shortage of nail salons in Orange County. Still, Twila True thought something was missing. Having lived in Asia and Europe for 14 years, True would come home every summer to O.C. and get her nails done, but wasn't satisfied with the services.

"The cleanliness wasn't impressive," she said. "You'd pick the nail polish out of plastic bins, there were no fashion trends, and the employees weren't keen on assistance. I wanted to elevate the experience."

So when she decided to open her own nail bar not far from her Newport Beach home, she knew she wanted it to be free from harsh chemicals, toxins and carcinogen-laden products.

Enter Polished Perfect by Twila True, a luxury nail salon that offers manicures, pedicures and nail art choices free of formaldehyde, camphor, dibutyl phthalate and other toxic agents.

True, co-founder and president of True Investments, an Irvine-based real estate private equity firm, shared her vision with her husband and opened the first Polished Perfect last year off Baker Street in Costa Mesa. She has since expanded the company with its flagship studio off 17th Street in Costa Mesa, another recent location in Brea and a new addition in Irvine's Los Olivos Marketplace.

Cleanliness remains paramount. There aren't jetted pedicure tubs at Polished Perfect studios. Having learned bacteria, skin and hair particles build up in whirlpool spa jet pipes, True opted for custom chairs with individual pedicure bowls, which are cleaned and disinfected after each use.

To ensure that service tools are clean, True invested in a specialized Pure Lab sterilization autoclave system. The pressurized steam and high heat destroys thermo-tolerant organisms and sterilizes the metal tools before use.

At the four manicure bars, women may place rings and bracelets in individual, locked gold prism cubes and flip through a lookbook offering shapes and embellishments that range anywhere from glitter and geometrics to Swarovski crystals.

True created her own nail lacquers, which are free of DBP, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and camphor. Guests may peruse a range of colors with humorous names, including "Don't Wait For Me," "Straight to Voicemail," "Buy Me A Drink" and, the most popular shade, "Invite Only," a light lavender.

The salon carries True's line of body scrubs, milk and honey bath soak and hand creams — all used during services.

Polished Perfect offers three services in manicures and pedicures that range from the True Essential Manicure at $29, to the Perfect Deluxe Manicure at $45, to the Twila True Manicure at $59.

Gel nails, a polish that provides a chip-free manicure for a few weeks, are about $16 more. The studio does not offer acrylic.

Monica Estevia, a retail development project manager from Costa Mesa, recently stopped by the Irvine Polished Perfect for a pedicure. She was interested because of its reputation for cleanliness and its use of Pure Lab, as she never heard of an infection happening with a system that is similar to those found in medical and dental offices.

Debbie Chang visited the nail studio with colleagues Simona Dautartaite and Ari Tabilin on a lunch break.

"We're totally awed by this place," Chang said while having her nails buffed. "There's nothing like it in Orange County. We're definitely coming back."

Since Polished Perfect's opening, True said the studio has catered to three generations of women and men who visit the "Mancave" at the salon's Costa Mesa flagship location.

True said she was interested in opening a location in Los Olivos Marketplace as the newly developed center includes a number of boutiques, retail stores and services that accommodate to the working woman or the mom on the go.

She plans to expand to San Diego and the La Jolla area and further her product retail by the end of the year.

"I'm hoping that the aesthetic is more pleasing and that women find more fashion-forward trends here," True said. "It's been a lot of fun."

Polished Perfect by Twila True is at 8597 Irvine Center Drive. For more information, call (949) 386-2645 or visit polishedperfect.com.

Twitter: @KathleenLuppi