When is the last time you had a pedicure and do you know how much a pedicure costs? Never? Well, that’s a shame. Foot care is important to our general health, and you cannot beat the lift a good pedicure will give you. Whether you go to a professional (which I enthusiastically endorse) or do it yourself at home, how much cost is involved can vary, but the benefits are always, as they say, priceless.
Maybe you’ve never had a pedicure because you’ve never thought about it. Or, maybe something else is keeping you away.
Some people just cannot stand the thought of someone touching their feet. Others think their feet are so ugly that upon presenting them for pampering, they would be laughed or marched out of the salon.
I know a lady like that – my mother. Her toes are a little funny looking, I will agree, with toes being turned a little here and there with a tendency to heavy calluses (must be a family thing). Well, she is so reluctant to have someone see, let alone touch, her feet that when I gave her a gift card for Mother’s Day one year, six months later she offered it back to me because she just couldn’t do it.
That kind of thinking is a little extreme. I have had several spa and salon professionals over the year assure me that nothing I have presented to them is the worst of it they have ever seen, usually far from it, and even if it were, they are trained professionals. They will not point it out to you, let you feel uncomfortable in any way, and they certainly will never refuse to treat you.
My main concern prior to my first pedicure many years ago was how ticklish my feet can be. I was just sure that I would be giggling all the way through, and a little afraid that if the pedicurist touched my feet the wrong way, she might get a bloodied nose from it popping up at her unexpectedly as a result.
Nothing of the sort happened. I talked to my hair stylist about it, and she promised it would not be a problem. I shared my concern with the receptionist when booking the appointment, and she was equally confident no one would get hurt. When I first met the nail technician, I revealed the risks involved to her, and she was not one bit spooked.
It was a beautiful experience. The moment my tired, worn, heavily calloused and generally unkempt feet hit the warm, pulsating water every bit of reticence escaped me. When she began to file away the roughness, I sat up a little straighter anticipating an awful reaction on my part but it did not happen. She skillfully removed every bit of yuck that needed to be sloughed.
After a couple of minutes of that, seeing that she was far more competent than I ever imagined a person could be in handling my particularly unusual feet, I could relax and enjoy the full benefits of the pedicure. I will not lie and say there was never a moment that tickled, but only two or three, and those were so mild my toes barely moved (and she apologized each time, the sweet dear).
The lady who cared for my feet that day is exceptional, but so is every other pedicurist I have ever had. Knowing how to make the experience absolutely wonderful for us no matter how shy or ticklish we may be is part of their training. Do not let any concern over any of those things keep you from indulging in this awesome treat.
What to Expect
A basic pedicure includes a long, long soak in a warm whirlpool bath spiked with an amazing product like Creative Nail’s Sea Rock Soak. You may awaken as your technician gently picks up one of your feet from the water to begin exfoliation.
Exfoliation is the act of removing dead skin cells and calluses. It is not painful, ever. It may tickle just a bit as she gets started, but after about 15 seconds into it the tickle goes away as your feet begin to sense the relief they are getting.
Your feet will be returned to the water spa, one and then the other as each is beautified. Then, she will begin to trim and file your toenails and to push back your cuticles. If your cuticles have been long neglected, there may be a bit of trimming with specialized snips but do not fear – your cuticle is dead skin and your technician is skilled; you will not feel a thing.
After this, the water spa will drain as your feel are gently dried, and then slathered with a magnificent little balm like Cucumber Heel Therapy. Next, she puts the spa flip flops on you and begins to polish your nails, usually with a base coat, two color coats, and a top coat.
That’s all there is to it. Remain in the spa chair for at least five minutes while your polish sets, reading a magazine or talking to a friend on the phone, and then you’re done. Feeling absolutely wonderfully relaxed, you are no longer ashamed to let people see your feet, and so you walk out of the salon proudly, still wearing the spa flip flops.
Now that you’re ready to call up the salon to schedule an appointment, you probably want to know one more thing: How much does all of this goodness cost? The average price for a basic pedicure at a nail salon in 2015 was $32.61. That matches up with well my local salon’s express or standard service at $35 today.
Price will vary depending on the type of facility you go to for a pedicure. The $33 average is representative of prices at a nail salon. In a full service beauty salon, the cost will be $10 to $15 higher. When treating yourself to the service at a spa, expect to pay $50 to $65.
Also, when choosing a spa, chances are good that you will choose from at least three levels of service. Enhancements in spa or “luxe” versions may be a salt glow scrub or extended massage on your feet and legs, an extended massage, or a hot oil treatment on nails and cuticles for extreme dryness. A nice add-on (for about $10 to $20 extra, depending on location) is a warm paraffin dip to seal in the moisture.
How often should you have this done? A spa technician once told me that if I came to her for a basic pedicure once a month, I would never have to file my own calluses again. If you knew my feet, you would understand what a grand statement (and wise investment) that is.
I would be remiss if I did not share with you some of the cautions the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued about pedicures. The first three are just good common sense; the last half are for those who want to be extremely careful.
No Razors – Never allow a technician in a nail salon to use a razor or any other tool to cut away dead skin. Not all calluses are bad; they protect and cushion our feet. The ugly ones can and should only be removed with a file or pumice stone, never a razor or knife.
Go Square – Rounded toe nail shaping leads to complications like ingrown toenails, no matter how carefully it is done. Always opt for the square shaped nail.
Examine Yourself – Before a pedicure, look at your feet (and legs up to about the mid-calf point). If you have cuts, bug bites, and so forth, you might want to skip the soak. You also shouldn’t shave or wax your legs right before a pedicure.
Keep the Cuticle – The nail cuticle is a protective feature at the base of the nail. Pushing it back or trimming it can open your toes up for infections. That said, at every pedicure and manicure I have ever had, my somewhat heavier-than-average cuticles were chemically softened, pushed back, and trimmed, and I’ve yet to have even the smallest problem from it.
No Fish – It is a fad that has faded greatly, but if it is an option at your nail salon, do not go for the gold fish pedicure. It’s just asking for trouble because not only can the fish carry their own natural bacteria, but chances are yours aren’t the first feet they’ve nibbled. Several states have banned the service, but not all. It sounded fun at first, but it really wasn’t.
BYOT – The biggest risk of contamination comes from tools being insufficiently sterilized between customers. Most salons I have been to in the last ten years are extremely careful about this. Pre-packaged disposable sets of foot files and emery boards are opened at each appointment, and the metal tools come directly from the sterilizing unit right there in the nail spa area where I can see it. Still, if you want to be sure, bring your own tools. Talk to your nail technician about this so that you know exactly what you should purchase and how to care for the tools.
Assortment of pedicure files and brushes.
If you are still a little nervous about a professional pedicure, do not let your feet go without the attention they want, need, and deserve. An at-home pedicure is better than none. You will miss the benefit of feeling treated, but the care for your feet can be just as good.
You will never have good foot care for free, but you can do it at home to preserve your privacy and, over time, the savings can begin to add up.
For the foot soak, you can use a basic plastic dish pan or your bath tub. For more of a spa experience, I suggest a portable foot water bath with a massage feature. You can find one for under $25, go for a mid-range model around $80, or go full luxe on a more expensive one with all the attachments and extra features you could ever want at home. Add in some Sea Rock Soak, or go basic with Epsom salts or baking soda.
Want the full spa experience? Get a paraffin pot. Again, you can get these in the basic model starting around $45 or get fancy at $150 or more.
Don’t forget to have the basics handy, including a foot file, emery board, Cucumber Heel Therapy, and a good foot and leg moisturizer. Include a bonding base coat, polish, and clear top coat if you’re going to finish with pizzazz on your tips. You’ll probably want a toe separator, too, because it’s hard to do our own toes without them mussing up a bit. And a good pair of flip flops, of course, to allow plenty of time to dry.
Foot care is important. The spa pedicure is a true treat, but a home pedicure is better than none. Either way, it is going to cost a little bit either for the service or for some tools at home, depending on how much luxury you choose. The cost of ignoring your feet altogether will be higher in discomfort alone. I hope these tips have encouraged you to start a regular pedicure regimen one way or the other. Thanks for reading!