Pedicure Pointers from IPFH
There’s no question that a pedicure can make your feet look more attractive, which is why it’s such a popular foot treatment. But for active adults and those who spend a lot of time on their feet, a pedicure (for men, too!) can be a necessity, keeping toenails trimmed and skin smooth.
As with any procedure, something may go wrong with a pedicure—for example, the practitioner nicks your skin or you end up a day or so later with a fungal infection. While there’s no guarantee that this will never happen, if you do a bit of sleuthing before hand to see if the salon follows best practices, you’re more likely to have a pleasant and safe experience.
Here’s what to look for:
- Clean look and feel. Workstations, tools and employees should look clean—no stains on equipment, chairs, basins; no garbage on the floor or cluttering a practitioner’s tray or work area.
- Sanitized foot spa and tools. Some salons use disposable tub liners, which is the safest practice. If yours does not, watch to see if the pedicure basin is cleaned and sanitized between uses.
- Clean hands. The practitioner should wear gloves or wash their hands thoroughly before starting to work on your feet.
Here’s what to do to maximize safety and minimize foot conditions:
- Avoid having cuticles cut. Cut cuticles provide an entrypoint for germs. Have them pushed back instead.
- Have your toenails cut square, not round or oval, to avoid ingrown toenails.
- Don’t let the practitioner use a razor on calluses; this can also lead to infection.
- Don’t shave or wax your legs right before a pedicure—even a tiny abrasion can let bacteria in.
- If you have an open sore on your feet or legs, wait until it heals completely before having a pedicure to avoid the possibility of infection.
- Consider bringing your own polish, base coat and top coat to avoid picking up a fungus or staph infection from someone else who used or held the salon’s shared bottle.
What to Expect?
If you haven’t had a pedicure, you’re in for a treat at the right salon. Following is an excerpt from our feature article on pedicures, in which former IPFH Roving Reporter Patty Boyd describes her experience:
“I sat in a large massage chair, rolled my pant legs up and placed my feet in the foot bath full of warm blue water. As I sat back, the massage chair kicked in by softly beating against my head—it felt like a child’s fists. Those little fists then worked down my back, beating and rolling with greater intensity. It was very relaxing, but I was intent on watching the pedicure procedure.
My pedicurist, Sue, clipped, filed and buffed my toenails with sterilized tools. She softened my cuticles, pushed them back and deftly nipped off all the excess skin. Then came the creamy, lotion-y experience as my feet and legs were exfoliated and massaged with multiple creams. Sue grabbed what looked like a cheese grater on a stick and scrubbed vigorously all over my feet to remove calluses. A pumice stone covered in lotion was the final softening tool.
Just before painting my nails, Sue slipped a rubber spacer between my toes. Originally, I had chosen a deep pink nail polish, but Sue convinced me to get white tips (a/k/a “French manicure”). She was quick and efficient as she painted the tips of my toenails white, neatened up the edges with a wide paint brush and acetone remover, and finally applied a coat of pink-tinted clear polish. Lovely!
She carefully placed a pair of flimsy flip flops on my feet and escorted me to the “drying” table. There were three of us at the table, and we happily chatted about previous pedicure experiences.”
Reviewed by: Robert P. Thompson, C.Ped, IPFH Scientific Advisory Board
Last updated: June 1, 2016