I love myself a good pedicure at a calm, beautiful spa. There is nothing like slipping your tired, beaten feet into a scented tub of warm water followed by a heavenly foot massage. Top that off with having someone else paint your toenails so you don’t have to contort yourself into a pretzel to do so yourself…I’m in 7th heaven!
Not all spas are clean and peaceful havens. Here in Canada, spas and salons are not closely regulated, therefore leaving precautions to be taken by the patrons themselves. Many of the spas I’ve frequented are very clean and take sterilization seriously, but we all know that not all spas are created equal.
Read on to learn some tips on protecting yourself while having a pedi – some lessons learned that I have picked up over the years as a former esthetician. And ladies, don’t read this and get put off by pedis for life. Remember, cracked heels, chipped polish and Jimmy Choo sandals DON’T MIX.
1. Even if the foot baths are sterilized, bacteria can still breed their water pipes. There are however “pipeless” foot bath in some salons or simple individual tubs. Opt for those, and as always, salon staff should be sanitizing these after every client. Work up the courage to ask your esthetician if the tub was sanitized before you start soaking your tootsies.
2. To avoid infection, don’t shave your legs for at least two days prior to a pedicure to eliminate the risk of causing any invisible or visible nicks and cuts. If you have any wounds on your feet, let them heal before having a pedi. And for God’s sake, if you have plantar warts, get them treated before having a pedicure. Yes, I’ve seen this and yes – people either think that plantar warts are not a big deal or feel that they aren’t worth treating. BLECH.
3. Pedicures, especially massage, is loosely tied to reflexology. Your pedi-technician may not necessarily be trained in reflexology but the results are similar—achieving relaxation and rejuvenation. Who doesn’t love a good foot rub? Pregnant women nearing the end of their term should NOT have their ankles massaged. Did you know that a good, deep massage around the Achilles tendon can induce labour?
4. Using callous shavers in a salon are illegal in most U.S. states, but are legal in Canada. Those crazy-looking, vegetable peeler- type devices that your nail tech uses to shave off your callouses can easily cut skin, opening you up to a world of germs that may enter your newly vulnerable (and possibly nicked) skin. Want to be traumatized for life? Google “bacterial tuberculosis” – a bacteria that can live in the pipes of pedi baths and can wreak absolute havoc on your body if it enters the bloodstream. Not cool.
5. Bringing your own pedicure tools isn’t necessarily safer—that is, unless you diligently scrub and sanitize your own set after every use. Salons are required to do this in either a barbicide bath, with germ-killing UV lights or with an autoclave.
6, Getting a pedi during winter is tricky since leaving the salon in flip-flops isn’t exactly ideal – especially with Canada’s Arctic-like winter conditions. For the sensible folks who showed up in boots, bring some cellophane (Saran Wrap/cling wrap). The ideal drying time for nail polish is 8-12 hours – way too long to hang around the salon. After your polish application and requisite 20-minute wait for drying, have your esthetician brush your toenails with cuticle oil and then have her gently wrap your feet in cling wrap before putting on your socks and boots. Wear flat boots too, as boots with heels will force your toes into the toebox, therefore ruining your pedi.
7. New nail files should always be used for each client, as used files can harbour bacteria.
8. Be sure to have your esthetician dry in between your toes carefully so that they are free of moisture. You don’t want to give any possible fungi, like Athlete’s Foot fungus, any reason to stick around.
9. Diabetics are at the highest risk for foot complications, including nerve-damage and life-threatening infections. If you are a diabetic, you may want to steer clear of those foot baths.
10. Ladies – steer clear of those crazy fish pedicures too. They pose a huge health risk as infection can spread easily through open wounds. Personally, I find these fish pedis completely bananas. No way, no thanks.
Hope you all found this helpful! Any other tips? Please share in the comments!