Professional pedicures have endless iterations, with a range of products and techniques as varied as the people performing them. That said, there are some critical elements that should be present in any professional pedicure.
In a traditional pedicure, the first step is to immerse the feet in warm water, often with some type of soap or other cleansing product. Feet may be soaked for up to five minutes.
In more state-of-the-art pedicures, there may not be water to soak in. Don’t worry, your feet are still being cleaned! At Pediworx, your technician will use a cleansing spray and towel to clean your skin and nails, while keeping your feet dry. Nail polish or gel is removed as part of the cleansing step, to prepare the nails for shaping.
2. Nail shaping
Nails should be maintained at a length that is short enough to keep them from breaking or rubbing against shoes or other toes, but also long enough to keep them from causing pain or ingrowing. During a pedicure, your technician will discuss with you what length and shape you prefer and work to best meet your requests. Ideally, they should also discuss why they are diverging from your preferred shape and length if necessary. We often find that people haven’t been taught how to safely shape their nails, and a little client education can go a very long way!
3. Cuticle care
Professional cuticle care is a contentious topic! Whether to trim or push or exfoliate, everyone has their own tastes and techniques. We will gently remove dead material from your nail plate, while pushing back and exfoliating the living tissue at the margins of the nails and cleaning the sidewalls (the area along the sides of the nails). Generally, we avoid nipping, as it is often counterproductive in the long term, creating callusing and hangnails.
4. Skin exfoliation
One of the most important steps of a professional pedicure is the exfoliation. As with cuticle care, there are many approaches which may include chemical exfoliation, mechanical exfoliation, or a combination of both.
Chemical exfoliation is when a chemical is used to break down the connections between cells. Water can help to do this, although it can mean a rough finish to the skin. Keratolytics like callus softeners or chemical peels can dissolve skin, allowing it to be wiped away.
Mechanical exfoliation is when a rough surface is used to file away unwanted skin cells. Materials may include metal, stone, or gritted surface. We suggest the gritted surface, either on a paper which is single use or on a metal base that is disinfectable. This exfoliation can be done by hand, as is common in traditional pedicuring, or with an electric file, which can allow much more precise work. We prefer electric files because they are useful for targeting problem areas, such as the tops of hammertoes, corns between toes, or edges of cracks on heels, allowing us to offer a range of additional services beyond basic exfoliation.
The last critical step of a professional pedicure is moisturizing. After all the cleansing, scrubbing, and filing, skin and nails need their moisture replaced! Skin will receive a moisturizer, ideally tailored to their specific needs. Nails receive an application of cuticle oil, either directly or following a nail coating.
Usually, the moisturizing step will include a relaxing foot rub, sometimes extending up to the knee, and may also include extras such as a moisturizing mask or paraffin application for extra relaxation and moisturizing. That said, in most states, nail technicians are not licensed to perform massage in the same ways a massage therapist is. We cannot offer foot massage as a stand-alone service unless we are also licensed in massage. You may see this piece offered as a “relaxing lotion application” or other alternative language.
6. Optional nail coating
The final step in many pedicures is a finishing touch for the nails. This may be as simple as buffing the nails to a shine, or as complicated as a gel polish with fancy nail art. The most common nail coatings are a single color choice in a traditional nail polish, also called lacquer or varnish, or a gel polish, which is more durable and dries immediately following the pedicure. Many of our clients opt for no nail treatment at all, letting their nails go bare, which is why our basic services do not include any nail coating.
Have you tried a professional pedicure? How about a dry pedicure, using an electric file? If you are curious, come give it a try! Our Basic Pedicure includes all five core components discussed above. You can also try our Polished Pedicure or Shellac Pedicure for a polished look, or our Medi Pedi or Pediworx Pedicure for some additional treatment components.
Have questions? Let us know, and we will do our best to get them answered!