We need to talk about your feet. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but they’re not great. They’ve probably spent a long winter crammed into wool socks, stuffed into boots, and sweating at the gym. Those things will take a toll on anyone’s feet, leaving them crusty, cracked, and dry looking. Now that it’s officially sandal season, you want to let them breathe. But before you do, you need to make them look presentable.
That’s where pedicures come in. Have you ever had one? I spent years of my life avoiding pedicures. I thought they were unnecessary, too luxurious, and my schedule was too packed to fit one in even if I wanted to. But man, was I ever wrong.
One day, on a whim, I decided to get a pedicure. From almost the moment I sat down in the massage chair and dipped my feet into the warm water, I was converted. There is a specific pleasure to having someone work on your feet. It’s relaxing in a way that few other things are. Having someone else cut your toenails, scrub away calluses, and massage your heels with cream can literally make your eyes roll back in your head.
But there’s more to it than that. Foot health is often overlooked because of an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Think about your feet for a second. Think about the miles you walk, how many hours you stand, how many steps your FitBit is tracking on a daily basis. Now think about doing all of that with pain in your feet. Not pretty.
Feet are especially prone to fungal infections (which can cause toenails to become discolored and even fall off), athlete’s foot (which can cause itching and blisters), and ingrown toenails (which can lead to bacterial infections). There are other things to worry about too, like certain types of melanomas which can manifest in the feet and are not always associated with sun damage.
Most of us don’t know exactly what these ailments look like, so having a professional periodically check out your feet (like during a pedicure) can help identify and treat foot issues early. You should also regularly check your own feet for changes and anything that looks weird. That’s where a home pedicure comes in handy.
Taking care of your own feet at home is easy and requires just a few simple steps:
- Soak your feet for at least 10 minutes in warm water and Epsom salts.
- Scrub your feet with a foot scrub to exfoliate dead skin.
- Use a pumice stone to smooth away calluses on your heels and toes (and anywhere else).
- Using a straight-across nail clipper, trim your toenails straight across (using a curved clipper may cause ingrown toenails). Make sure to keep a little bit of length and don’t trim them too short.
- Use an emory board or nail file to smooth the cut edges.
- Finish with a foot cream or lotion and rub it in well. Don’t leave globs of it between your toes, which can cause fungus growth.
- Put on some slippers. You have to protect those fresh feet!
A DIY pedicure is great (any form of foot care is beneficial), but it pales in comparison to a professional pedicure. It’s like the difference between microwaving dinner for yourself and going to a 5-star restaurant. You just can’t compete with professional-level skills.
Still, you have to be careful when picking a pedicure spot. It’s hard to tell whether they clean the foot basis often, but if they don’t use fresh water each time or put a plastic liner in the basin, it could be a red flag. Dirty basins can recirculate bacteria and fungus from other people’s feet. Make sure the pedicurist opens a fresh package of tools for your treatment (again, to prevent contamination). And if you have an ingrown toenail that required extraction, don’t let them do it. Instead, head to a podiatrist.
Even with safety in mind, pedicures are relatively low-risk and high-reward. You can get them as often as you like, but once a month is a good rule of thumb. Keeping your feet looking great and feeling healthy might have brought you in, but the relaxation will keep you coming back.
Now we have to wrap this up - my pedicure is almost over.