When you visit a spa, you want your entire body to be pampered. Your tired muscles are massaged, your face is rejuvenated and perfectly moisturized, and your hands are elegantly manicured. If you pay all this attention to the rest of your body, then why not do the same for your feet as well? A spa pedicure can be a truly special experience, particularly if you know what to look for and where to go.
However, the sad truth is that spa pedicures vary considerably in quality. (I totally see you nodding in agreement.) In some spas, a pedicure doesn’t amount to much more than having your toenails buffed and polished (been there, done that), whereas other spas provide an amazing range of treatments. So, exactly what should you look for when you are choosing a spa to look after your feet? Just what is the perfect spa pedicure?
First of all, a pedicure isn’t a quick treatment – if anyone tells you that they will give you a pedicure in 15 minutes, then you shouldn’t believe them and you should walk away. As a minimum, a good pedicure should take at least half an hour, and more extensive treatments can last up to an hour and a half, depending on the treatments that you opt for.
Before you do go for a spa pedicure however, one thing you need to check is that your feet are relatively healthy. In particular, look for any thickening or cracking of your toenails, since this can be a sign that you have a fungal infection. You really need to get this treated medically using a toenail fungus treatment before you go for a pedicure, since you don’t want to spread the infection any further – and it’s not fair on the pedicurist.
Assuming that your feet are in relatively good condition, then expect your pedicure to start with a therapeutic foot spa or bath, which is designed to soften your skin and to cleanse it. This prepares it for the rest of the treatments that are going to follow. At high-end spas, the footbaths that they use are often more like small Jacuzzis – not only do they soften and clean your feet, but they also reinvigorate them as well.
Once your feet have been bathed and dried, the next step should be an exfoliating scrub. This typically uses salts or minerals to get rid of the dead skin on your feet. However, in some cases when you have a lot of skin buildup on places such as your heels, the pedicurist will also use a pumice stone to remove the heavy layers. Alternatively, they may use a solution of glycolic acid to melt away that heavy, dead skin instead – this is the same substance that is often used in chemical peels. Once your feet have been exfoliated, they should feel soft and smooth to the touch. At this point, you are ready for the next stage in the beauty treatment.
Now, the pedicurist should start to work on your nails. First of all, they should remove any excess cuticles from your nails. While this may sound a bit painful, it really doesn’t hurt if you have a skilled pedicurist working on your feet. Believe me, I have experienced the “non-skilled” version and it isn’t fun. Next, expect them to soften each of your nails by applying various oils to them. This makes it much easier to cut the nails, and makes it less likely that they will split when this is done. When the pedicurist does cut your nails, make sure that they shape them properly and smooth off the ends with an emery board or something similar.
Now, at this point you may receive a lower foot and leg massage, to leave your feet feeling relaxed, fresh and light. Many spas also have treatments that include a mask for your feet, as well. (Read: The French Manor Inn & Spa pedicure ) Some spas repeat the footbath once again, to give your feet that extra glow. Once this is completed, then it is time to have nail polish applied. In some cases, you will get a special treatment at this point – for example, a classic French pedicure uses a long-lasting varnish, and the tips of your nails are cut square and whitened.
At this point, your pedicure is over and it’s time to go. However, there is one thing that you should remember. While nail polishes that you buy in a store usually dry in about five minutes, many polishes used in high-end spas can take up to 45 minutes to harden – although some are hardened immediately using UV light. Just in case, it’s not a good idea to put on a pair of sneakers or some closed-toed shoes. Instead, go with a pair of open sandals or some flip-flops.
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