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A pedicure is a superficial cosmetic treatment of the feet and toenails. It provides a similar service to a manicure. Pedicures are done for cosmetic, therapeutic and medical purposes, and can help prevent nail diseases and nail disorders. They are extremely popular throughout the world, primarily among women.
Pedicures are not just limited to nails; usually dead skin cells on the bottom of feet are rubbed off using a rough stone called a pumice stone. Additionally, leg care below the knee became a common and now expected service included in pedicures. Leg care includes depilation via either shaving or waxing followed by granular exfoliation, application of moisturizing creams, and a brief leg massage.
People have been pedicuring their nails for more than 4,000 years. In southern Babylonia, noblemen used solid gold tools to give themselves manicures and pedicures. The use of fingernail polish can be traced back even further. Originating in China in 3000 BC, nail color indicated one’s social status, according to a Ming Dynasty manuscript; royal fingernails were painted black and red. Ancient Egyptians have been manicuring all the way back to 2300 BC.
A depiction of early manicures and pedicures was found on a carving from a pharaoh’s tomb, and the Egyptians were known for paying special attention to their feet and legs. The Egyptians also colored their nails, using red to show the highest social class. It is said that Cleopatra’s nails were painted a deep red, whereas Queen Nefertiti went with a flashier ruby shade. In ancient Egypt and Rome, military commanders also painted their nails to match their lips before they went off to battle.
Pedicures in the United States
The pedicure industry began to noticeably grow in 2000. There were approximately 50,000 nail salons located throughout the United States (US) then, compared to nearly 200,000 nail salons today. This was largely driven by the full-service salon. Pedicure has high growth rates compared to other industries.
Pedicures themselves take approximately 45 minutes to an hour. This results in extremely high equivalent hourly fees and thus an increase in GDP grew from $2 billion to $6 billion between the year 2000 and 2004.
According to the US Department of Labor, manicure and pedicure specialists earned a median income of around $24,000 in 2006. Most professionals earn an hourly wage or salary which can be augmented through customer tips. Independent nail techs depend on repeat business and consistent business to earn their livings. The most successful independent manicure technicians may earn salaries of over $50,000 per year. Also, many nail technicians can earn up to $300 per hour from performing more technical nail treatments, such as pink and whites and sculpting. Although these treatments are not particularly popular for the feet, they are, nonetheless, an available option should anyone wish to have such a treatment. A standard Pedicure treatment usually costs in the region of $40. Similar salaries can be earned by skilled pedicure techs working in exclusive and high end spas and salons.
Tools and nail cosmetics
- Cotton balls
- Cuticle cream
- Cuticle pusher or Cuticle nipper
- Foot bath
- Nail file
- Nail polish
- Orangewood sticks
- Toenail clippers
- Toe Spacers
- Pedicure Spa
- Pumice stone (removes dead skin from sole of foot)
- Paper towels (rolled between toes to separate them)
- Nail cosmetics
- Base coat
- Cuticle creams
- Cuticle oil
- Cuticle remover
- Dry nail polish
- Liquid nail polish
- Nail bleach
- Nail conditioner
- Nail dryer
- Nail polish remover
- Nail polish thinner
Types of Pedicures
There are various different types of pedicures. Some of the most common types are as follows (names and products may vary from spa to spa):
- Regular Pedicure: A simple treatment that includes foot soaking, foot scrubbing with a pumice stone or foot file, nail clipping, nail shaping, foot and calf massage, moisturizer and nail polishing.
- Spa Pedicure: Includes the regular pedicure and generally adds one of the following: Paraffin dip, masks, mud or seaweed treatment.
- Paraffin Pedicure: A treatment that includes a regular pedicure but also includes the use of paraffin wax. The feet are covered with layers of paraffin wax to moisturize feet.
- Stone Pedicure: Basically a foot massage that involves the use of various different essential oils that are rubbed with the help of hot stones for the massage of the feet and legs.
- French Pedicure: A regular pedicure that involves the use of white polish on the nail tips with a sheer pink color on the base.
- Mini Pedicure: This focuses mainly on the toes with a quick soak, nail shaping and polish, but does not include the massage or sole care. This is designed for an appointment between regular pedicures for generally well maintained feet.
- Athletic Pedicure: Similar to a regular pedicure for either gender. It includes either a clear polish or toenail buffing. Usually, the aromatics used will be more cooling, such as peppermint, cucumber, or eucalyptus.
- Chocolate Pedicure: A pedicure which may include a chocolate foot soak, chocolate foot mask, or chocolate moisturizing lotion.
- Ice Cream Pedicure: A pedicure where a "bath ball", which looks like a scoop of ice cream, is chosen. The soak is followed with a foot scrub (usually vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry) and topped with a whipped moisturizing lotion. Red toenail polish simulates the ice cream's "cherry".
- Margarita Pedicure: A regular pedicure which includes a salt scrub, soaking water with fresh limes, a lime-based massage oil, and moisturizer.
- Champagne or Wine Pedicure: This is a regular pedicure usually featuring a grape-seed scrub, grape mask peel, and finished off with a grape seed oil or moisturizing massage.
- Most places use a pumice stone or a PedEgg-type device to shave off calluses. If calluses are shaved too aggressively and the skin is broken, this can become a portal for bacteria or fungus. This is especially problematic for diabetics, who need specialized foot care.
- Different spas use different types of solutions and chemicals to cleanse or soak your feet. Any of these chemicals/solutions can cause skin irritation.
- There can be a risk of developing an ingrown toenail from improper trimming.
- Instruments may not be sterilized and can thus pass on fungal or bacterial cells. Fungus is easily transmittable from one person to another. These organisms can live for days on objects, especially if not properly cleaned.
- Nail salon
- "Manicure & Pedicure". Simply Serenity Medi Spa. Retrieved January 2014.
- "Nail Technician School Programs". Skilled Trade School. Retrieved January 2014.
- "Types of Pedicures". Spavelous. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "Pedicure Awareness. What Could Go Wrong?". Houston Foot Specialists. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
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- Pedicure Soothes and Tingles, Leaving Manliness Intact, New York Times, April 2006
- Preventing Pedicure Foot Spa Infections, The United States Environmental Protection Agency
- Cosmetology Administrative Rules, Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation