What is a Pedicure?
Pedicures are the art of cleaning and caring for the feet and toenails. The term pedicure comes from the latin word “pedi” meaning foot and “cure” meaning care. At home pedicures can be quick and easy or long and detailed, while salon and spa pedicures often take between thirty minutes to an hour—times in general vary based on your pampering style and needs. A pedicure begins with soaking the feet in warm water to soften the skin. During a pedicure, old polish is removed (if needed), toenails are trimmed and filed to a square or rounded shape, cuticles are treated, calluses and rough patches are scrubbed and smoothed, and the lower leg and entire foot is massaged with lotion or cream. Polish is then applied, if desired. Despite popular belief, pedicures are suitable for both women and men. For more information on why foot grooming is beneficial for everyone, click here.
Pedicures and Overall Health
A pedicure promotes overall foot and nail health. It works to enhance the appearance of your feet, increase your comfort level, and relax your often strained leg and foot muscles. How?
- Trimming, filing, and clipping prevent nails from growing inward (also known as an ingrown toenail, which are very painful) or causing infection.
- Scrubbing, smoothing, and sloughing of calluses and dead skin cells not only allows newer, healthier skin cells to surface, but prevents the dead cells from accumulating and causing unbearable and unsightly bunions or corns.
- Moisturizing and massaging quenches dry skin and increases circulation to the feet, improving the foot’s agility, reducing foot stress, and promoting better performance of the foot muscles.
When done regularly, a pedicure aids foot health by preventing a number of nail diseases, fungi, and disorders, as well as removes any dirt or skin buildup on the foot that could cause later complications and discomfort.
Home vs. Salon/Spa Pedicures
Ready to take the pedicure plunge but stumped on where to get one? Some of you might want to set up your own pedicure spread at your home, which is the perfect chance for “me” time and to enjoy the comfort of your own home. Others of you might opt for a salon or spa pedicure, which is a bigger indulgence but the foot message and attention to detail is definitely worth it!
Whether you’d like to get your feet into the hands of professional or wish to set up your own salon in your bathroom, here are a couple of things to think about:
Although it might initially cost more to buy all of the products and tools for DIY care, in the long run, at home pedicures are less costly because you can continue to use the items for future pedicures.
Salons are a bigger indulgence cost-wise, where a single pedicure range anywhere between $15 and $60. Single spa visits can range from $35 to $135, depending on whether or not you get standard, deluxe, or additional features. Here’s a great article on how to find the best spas and salons to fit your budget: How Much Do Manicures and Pedicures Cost?
Where you get a pedicure might depend on your location and freedom of travel. Besides the fact that you’re in familiar surroundings, an at home pedicure might seem more comfortable depending on where you perform your pedicure. Sitting in a soft chair or on top of a pillow in your pajamas or a robe brings a luxurious, no-fuss feel to an at home pedicure.
If you have a spa or salon nearby, you might be more willing to visit it frequently, which might become a much-needed mini-getaway from your hectic life. It’s always fun building friendly relationships with nail/foot technicians, and the atmosphere of a spa or salon might be a little more relaxing depending on the place: typical pedicures are performed while you soak your feet in a foot Jacuzzi, sit in a massage chair, and mindlessly read a magazine or watch television.
Whether you’re trying an at home pedicure for the first time or have done plenty, a big difference between your home and a salon might be pedicure knowledge and the proper attention given to your feet. Salon technicians are skilled, trained, and familiar working with feet, meaning yours might get more detailed work than if done by you.
On the other hand, study up on our Home Pedicure section and you might just give salons a run for their money! At home, you can give your feet a quick touch-up or full-on feet spree, depending on your mood or needs. For those of you unfamiliar with how a pedicure works, it might be useful to get your first done by a professional.
You might pick the method of pedicure depending on the season or event. In the summer months, you’ll need pedicures more frequently with so much foot exposure, so you might want to alternate between at home and salon pedicures to save on expenses. In the winter, at home upkeep is imperative in order to keep feet moisturized and free from dry, dead skin, however, you might want to get a salon pedicure if your feet are often exposed to strenuous activity. At home pedicures are best for pool trips and other every day or casual events. Splurge on salon pedicures for weddings, vacations, and other important events.
As always, be safe and smart while conducting your own or receiving a professional pedicure. At home, make sure you are familiar with the correct pedicure techniques (below) before diving right in, and always be sure to properly disinfect via How to Sterilize Pedicure Tools. At a salon or spa, check to make sure the location meets the proper EPA and CDC guidelines for Preventing Pedicure and Foot Spa Infections and be sure to follow these tips:
- Visit your podiatrist or doctor for a pre-pedicure assessment to ensure you do not have any overlooked foot health problems. This is especially true for those with circulatory problems and diabetics. For more information, please visit our Diabetes Guide.
- Shaving and waxing leave tiny cuts that are susceptible to bacteria and could cause infection, so do not shave or wax legs 24 hours prior to your pedicure.
- Do not soak your feet in the spa water if you have any cuts, scrapes, or places where the skin is broken on your legs or feet.
- Bring your own pedicure tools to the spa to ensure that they are cleaned properly and to reduce the potential for bacterial or contamination.
- Make sure the foot baths are properly disinfected after each customer: go earlier in the day or on less busy days (earlier in the week) when the salon is at its cleanest and nail technicians aren’t worn out.
- Letting the pedicurist cut your cuticles is an easy way to get an infection, so skip this step.
- If you have any hesitations, leave promptly and find a salon or spa that meets proper sanitary requirements.
Get Fancier Feet at Home
At home pedicures are the perfect way to get sparkling, squeaky-clean feet from the comfort of your couch. To make your DIY experience as special and sophisticated as possible, here are some tips to create the perfect at home ambiance.
- Invest in the good products. Why? Because they’ll last you for a while. For more information on which tools to have on hand, see our list of practical grooming essentials.
- Sit in a comfortable spot. Don’t settle for the bathroom floor: try a plush pillow, a furry rug, or a couch seat.
- Set the mood. Turn your iTunes to feel-good, relaxing music like Ingrid Michaelson, Adele, Michael Buble, Jon Legend, or Bon Iver, and your pretty toes’ll be tappin’ in no time.
- Pour yourself a beverage. Whether it be a glass of ice water or red wine, doing so will add to the luxury of it all.
- Get a massage. Well, this might not be the easiest to do without one of those fabulous massage chairs, but make an effort to massage your own feet, and take the time to give them the love they deserve.
- Keep a nail polish collection. There’s nothing better than being able to choose your shade based on your of-the-moment mood. For more on nail polish and care, check out The Nail Necessities.
- Have something to read. While you’re waiting for your foot cream to soak in or for your nails to dry, this’ll give your mind a chance to escape from your stresses into an alternate world of suspense novels or fashion magazines.
- Take a nap. This isn’t necessarily DIY pedicure-specific, but if you follow the above advice, we’re sure you’ll want to afterwards.
So you’re not an expert on pedicures. No worries, because Heel to Toe has got you covered. Here’s the best step-by-step how-to we’ve ever seen, which just so happens to be appropriately titled: The Best Do-It-Yourself Pedicure Tips. Review them, embrace them, and follow them pronto.
Looking for more home pedicure tips?
- Check out this DIY Pedicure guide, which gives you tips on how to conduct your own pedicure for less than $20.
- Short on time or have time to kill? Whether you have 2, 5, or 35 minutes, try these Easy At-Home Pedicure Shortcuts.
- Marie Claire offers expert advice on how to achieve The Ultimate DIY Pedicure, and offers recommendations for their favorite pedicure products.
- Start mixing these DIY foot scrubs and powders found in this At Home Guide to Sandal Ready Feet.
- Teen Vogue gives stellar at home pedicure advice in their At-Home Pedicure Tips, including our favorite: to keep heels from cracking, massage them with cream and wear socks (genius!) to absorb the moisture overnight.
- Compare pedicure tool prices that fit your budget while learning How to Get a Spa Pedicure at Home.
- You could always turn your at home session into a pedicure party and invite all of your fellow foot-pampering friends. Here’s an article on How to Host a Pedicure Party.
For more information on how to make your toes sparkle, check out The Nail Necessities.