Manicures and pedicures are closely related, as hands and feet are closely related, and the differences may seem obvious. The root of the word pedicure is two-part: pedi, from ped meaning foot, and cure, from curare meaning to care for. Similarly, manicure comes from manus, meaning hand, and curare. From the roots, you can see the critical difference between manicure and pedicure: manicures are hand care and pedicures are foot care. There is more depth there, though, and we will look at some of the differences here.

Pedicures focus on callus

A critical difference between typical manicures and typical pedicures is that pedicures include a significant focus on callus smoothing and reduction, also called exfoliation. Our feet get a very different level and type of use than our hands, and thus they need a different routine for care. Often a full third of the pedicure can be spent on callus work, although that can vary significantly from pedicure to pedicure. Callus work can be as simple as a quick pass of the foot file, to involved and detailed care of challenges including hardened or cracked skin, corns, or flaking skin. This extra work can add significant time to a service, which leads to our second point.

Manicures are quicker

Manicures and pedicures are often listed on a menu with the same designator, for example Deluxe Manicure and Deluxe Pedicure. The core pieces of a manicure are similar to a pedicure, but without the callus work. This means that the corresponding manicure is usually shorter and less expensive than the pedicure in the same category. This is not to say that all manicures are quicker than all pedicures. Frequently, clients want extras on their hands that they don’t care about or need on their feet.

Enhancements are usually for manicures

Enhancements, including gel, acrylic, full sets, and dip, are generally more common in a manicure than a pedicure. Most people are more concerned with their fingernails being a particular length, shape, and color than they are their toenails. Fingernails are more visible on a daily basis, particularly at job interviews, weddings, and other high stakes moments, especially here in the northwest, where it is too cold to wear sandals during much of the year. Additionally, many salons are not set up or trained to provide appropriate enhancements for toenails, as they have different needs than fingernails.

Toenails have unique challenges

Crammed into shoes, banging into the ends as we walk, getting stubbed, or being smashed: our toenails are subject to a lot of abuse. This abuse translates into more frequent, dramatic damage to toenails than is typical for fingernails. Combine this (often repeated) trauma with slow growth speed and dark conditions, and sometimes nails can become discolored and disfigured without us even realizing. When a special event calls for pretty toenails, it can be discouraging. Plenty can be done to improve the situation, including treatments to improve the shape, color, and surface of the nail, as well as specialized gel enhancements to build a safe, flexible replacement nail when needed.

Do you need a manicure, pedicure, or both?

Now that you understand some key differences between manicures and pedicures, what are you wishing for?