Ok, friends. It’s that time of year: dust off your sandals, your thongs, and your strappy stilettos. What’s that, you say? It’s still cold outside? Well, of course it is! This is Melbourne! But pedicure season doesn’t care. You have weddings to attend, races to get gussied up for, and maybe even holidays in warmer climates, if you’re lucky. So, even though the Arctic wind is still blasting, now is the time to get your feet in shape so you aren’t caught unawares when we have another freak 24 degree day. In this post, I’m going to walk you through what a good pedicure should and shouldn’t entail.
First and foremost, a pedicure should never hurt. This goes for you DIYers, too: be gentle with yourselves. If you are having a professional pedicure and it hurts at any stage – speak up! Different people have different comfort levels and feedback is essential. Don’t just grin and bear it. If you’re extremely ticklish, warn your nail lady (that’s me!). We can’t make you less ticklish, but we can try to minimize it and be extra aware of your comfort. If you’ve had ingrown toenails or foot surgery or even if you just don’t like having a certain part of your foot touched/rubbed – tell us at the start of the pedicure. It’s your treatment. You deserve to be comfortable.
Secondly, never let a cutting tool of any sort near your heels/calluses unless it’s being wielded by a podiatrist (and even then, I have my doubts). You have calluses on your feet for a reason, and that reason is to protect and cushion your feet. If the callus is cut away with a blade or one of those metal cheese-grater things, it will grow back thicker and faster in response to the trauma. You’re also more at risk for cuts/infection. Your feet will not be happy in the long run. Now, I’m not saying we have to walk around with dry, cracked heels. What I am saying is that your calluses are essential, but the dry skin on them isn’t! By gently filing the callus with a pedicure file, soaking the feet in a softening bath, treating the dry skin with an exfoliating gel, and applying foot balm, you can keep your protective calluses and still have soft, smooth feet.
Now, when it comes to cutting toenails, there’s mostly personal preference and a few hard and fast rules. Always cut your toenails straight across. Cutting down the sides can encourage ingrown toenails. Don’t cut too short – that’s guaranteed to be painful for a week or so. If your toenails are thick, soak your feet for ten minutes before trimming. I soak the client’s feet, trim the toenails with toenail clippers leaving a little length, then file them even. Some people like to leave a bit of length to have a bigger canvas for the polish. Totally personal preference. I will add, though, if you wear closed-toe shoes most of the time, or if you are a runner – keep that big toenail short. A longer toenail will bump against the inside of your shoe, causing trauma to the base of the toenail, which could lead to it falling off!
Everyone always wants to know about toenail fungus. This is a blog post in itself, so I won’t go into depth here. All I will say is that the most basic version (onychomycosis) is very common and not a big deal. If you think you have it, go to the chemist and get the topical treatment. It can take up to a year to go away. Toenails grow very slowly. Keep treating it and don’t give up. You can still have pedicures/polished nails. An experienced nail pro can tell when a fungus is being treated, and if they run a hygienic salon, there’s no danger of cross-contamination.
This one isn’t essential, but it’s my own personal pedicure peeve: ladies, don’t apologize for the hair on your legs/feet. That hair grows there naturally. Whether you shave it, wax it, laser it, comb it, braid it, or bead it, it’s no concern of mine. You don’t need to apologize to me for having hair on your legs (or anywhere else). If a beauty professional ever displays disgust about anything to do with you or your body, they should not be in this industry. So don’t apologize to me, because it makes me sad. Also, I will probably just show you my hairy legs, because I always seem to be in between leg waxes.
Last, but certainly not least – what color nail polish should you have on your toes? This is the fun part, so don’t overthink it. Most people like to splash out and go for the kind of crazy color they’d never have on their hands, like bright blue, or orange glitter. Others like to keep it classic with a nice red or coral. The one thing I’ve heard a lot over the years is, “I want a sheer nude color because my feet are ugly and I don’t want to draw attention to them”. No! You want to do the opposite! Distract with color! Take it from me, the original Franken-foot – I have very wide feet with bunions so bad, I had surgery on my right foot when I was only 19. But it’s still a bit knobbly, and has awesome incision scars! You better believe I am usually wearing eye-searing neon pink glitter on my toes and that is all anyone notices.
Now that your feet have been professionally buffed, scrubbed, polished, and pampered, keep them feeling great at home. Keep a foot file in your shower for easy access and give those heels a few swipes every day. Follow up with a rich foot cream at night (I love anything with shea butter). A professional pedicure should last you around 6 weeks, but nobody would blame you if you want to treat your feet before then.
Ok, let’s all cross our toes and hope for more sandal weather!
xx erin m.