We carry an extensive polish collection. I mean, it borders on the ridiculous. This might offend a few, but honestly, polish is the LEAST important aspect of your pedicure. Certainly, it should be properly applied (mind the cuticles!) and it should be long lasting. But if polish is the primary reason you’re getting a pedicure, then you’re missing the point.
Pedicures serve a higher purpose. Great foot care leads to good foot health. Think about the number of steps our feet take every day. Think about the weight they carry with each step. All day, every day.
There is no way we would drive our cars, operate machinery or use critical devices every day without proper care and maintenance. And that’s how we should view pedicures – they are essential foot care for healthy feet.
So what constitutes a great pedicure?
Ever been to a doctor’s visit and you’re trying to describe your symptoms and the doctor is clearly only half listening? A pedicure that doesn’t start with an evaluation is pointless, just like that doctor’s visit. Your nail technician should complete a visual evaluation, looking for corns, calluses, excessive dry skin, problematic nail growth, moles, among other things. On two separate occasions, I have found malignant melanoma on the bottom of the feet. How often do you scan and check the bottom of your feet or in between your toes? Nail techs are sometimes the first to spot issues that appear on the feet. Your nail tech should ask probing questions to better understand these conditions and they should ask about your home care. The results of this evaluation help to determine the course of care – do I focus on reducing calluses, mitigating ingrowns with thorough sidewall debris cleaning, etc. I share my findings and explain my course of care with the client.
Trimming, filing, cuticle detailing, buffing, callus reduction, foot exfoliation – all of these steps should be done with painstaking care. Calluses form over time and are not meant to be entirely removed in a single pedicure – we reduce, not remove. It always amazes me when a client goes months (and months) without a pedicure but seems to think that all of their issues ought to be addressed in a single pedicure. Can’t (shouldn’t) happen.
“Please don’t cut my cuticles” – I simply dread these five words. Maybe you read it in a magazine article or a blog post. But let’s qualify this advice. Yes, you can get too aggressive with nipping cuticle. The eponychium (the living tissue) is there for a reason – to protect – and should not be cut. But the overgrown cuticle that lives on your nail plate? It serves no purpose. It’s like an out-of-control vine and should be removed – this is absolutely critical to a clean looking, long lasting pedicure.
The Post Care
You see a dentist twice a year, but you brush and floss every day, right? Yes, foot care is just like oral care. You see your nail technician once a month for a pedicure, but you should practice good foot care in between those visits. Use a foot file 2-3 times a week after the shower (when your skin is softened) to exfoliate dead skin. Hydrate your feet with products that are especially formulated for feet (the skin is thicker and tougher on your feet so your normal body lotion is not going to cut it). Applying body lotion on feet that haven’t been exfoliated is pointless – exfoliate the dead skin, effectively hydrate the new skin.
Okay, okay. Now for the polish. Toenails that are polished in your favorite shade make you happy; I get it! But polish is the icing on the cake or the cherry on the ice cream sundae. Because without the cake, it would just be icing. And without the ice cream, it’s just a cherry. Remember this the next time you’re analyzing the polish samples and agonizing over the right color. Polish is temporary and proper foot care will help your feet carry you for many, many miles.