What Does a Pedicure Involve?

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Like the tires of a car, feet go through much wear and tear to hold a person up and move them around. A pedicure is the routine maintenance necessary to pamper the feet and allow them to comfortably travel many more miles. Though it is possible to give your feet extra attention at home, having a pedicurist attend to them ensures professional care as well as a relaxing experience. Learn what to expect by familiarizing yourself with the steps involved in getting a pedicure.

Basic Knowlege

Pedicures at salons are often given in raised seats with a foot sink, and some offer a bed on which you can relax. Plan to wear open-toed sandals that are easy to slip on and off so as not to ruin the finished product. Don't shave your legs beforehand as open cuts invite bacterial infection. This does not, however, excuse a salon from neglecting to provide a clean environment and tools -- feel free to ask for a proof of sanitation certificate or request alternate tools if anything appears worn or dirty.

First Steps

Before the pedicure begins, select a polish color. Take your time, and do not feel rushed if you cannot immediately find a suitable color. Once seated, make sure the hems of your pants are rolled up to just below the knee. Your feet will be soaked in warm water with foot-bath soap, which softens the skin for easier removal of dry skin and calluses. Some pedicurists take this time to clean any dirt from underneath the nails.

Foot Details

A foot file or pumice stone is used to remove calluses and dry skin, particularly on the balls of the feet and the heels. Note that shaving calluses with a blade is illegal in many states and, in fact, only causes the calluses to grow back even worse. Exfoliation with gloves or a glycolic acid gel further removes dry, flaky skin. After a final rinse, moisturizing lotion is applied to the feet and lower legs.

Clipping and Shaping

The pedicurist will evenly clip your toenails to the desired length. An emery board is then positioned under the nail and softly moved back and forth for further shaping. Filing the nails gives them your choice of a squared or slightly rounded appearance. Make sure the toenails are not cut too short, or filed too rounded, as this can cause ingrown toenails.

Additional Nail Preparation

Oil is massaged into the nail beds to loosen the cuticles. Some pedicurists will clip the cuticles back using a cuticle trimmer -- note that this can cause bleeding and damage the nail bed if done incorrectly. Alternatively, the cuticles are pushed back using a small wooden stick, often made of birchwood or orangewood. Next, a buffer block is used over the flat part of the nail to buff, polish and shine this area.

Polish Application

A toe separator is a soft, spongy piece that keeps your toes from moving around and potentially ruining the polish. Two coats of nail polish are applied, with one or two minutes in between to allow the first coat to dry before applying second coat. Finally, a clear top coat is applied to seal the color, which maintains the look for longer. Salons often have a sitting area where you can place your feet under an ultraviolet light or fan until the polish dries completely.