Types of Manicures & Pedicures

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Whether a manicure and pedicure are part of your weekly routine or a luxury reserved for special occasions, it's important to understand the different types of treatments that are available. If you're trying to elevate your do-it-yourself nail routine or pick the right option off a spa menu, finding out about the different varieties of manicures and pedicures that are available can make all the difference in the satisfaction you receive from your experience.

File and Polish

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A file-and-polish manicure and pedicure is the most basic nail treatment available at professional salons and spas -- and it can be done easily. File-and-polish treatments begin by the removal of any polish that is already on the nails. The nails are then filed into the desired shape and covered in a base coat. Two coats of nail polish follow and a top coat finishes off the procedure. In many, but not all, salons cuticle maintenance is not part of a file-and-polish manicure or pedicure.

Acrylic and Gel Manicures

Acrylic and gel manicures are offered by many salons and both treatments create the look of long nails without the hassle of the time it takes to grow them. An acrylic manicure involves the technician mixing an acrylic powder with a liquid to form a thick paste. The paste is then brushed over your nail, though an artificial tip can also be glued on for later shaping. A gel manicure involves brushing a liquid with a similar consistency to nail polish over the nails to increase the length, then curing the liquid under a UV light. Both treatments last several months but require upkeep treatments every few weeks.

Spa Manicures and Pedicures

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Spa manicures and pedicures are similar to file-and-polish treatments except that they always include cuticle neatening and skin moisturizing. Both begin with the removal of any leftover nail polish. The hands or feet are then soaked in warm water. Next, the nails are filed and the cuticles are trimmed or pushed back. Before polish is applied oil is massaged into the cuticles and moisturizing lotion is massaged into the skin. Finally, a base coat is applied to the nails, followed by two coats of polish and a top coat. A lovely addition in spa manicures and pedicures is the calf and lower-arm massage that many establishments will do free-of-charge to treat their clients.

Add-On Treatments

Many salons and spas offer treatments that can be added to a basic spa manicure or pedicure for an additional fee. One of the most popular add-on treatments is a dip in moisturizing paraffin wax. Exfolitation treatments for the hands and feet are also offered at most salons. These treatments range from a simple sea-salt scrub, to skin peels and callus removal, so make sure to ask what type of exfoliation is offered if you intend to purchase this add-on. Some salons offer nail-art add-ons such as airbrushing, the application of small crystals to the nail or hand-painted nail design. Nail-art add-ons are great for spicing up your manicure and pedicure routine, especially when you have a special occasion waiting around the corner.