Getting pedicures is no more an exclusive privilege for women — it has never been. Self-care knows no gender and real men can frequent the nail salon too. In fact, some have already been doing so for quite some time, tearing down age-long gender norms and starting conversations in modern-day society.
What Is a Pedicure, Exactly?
A pedicure for men isn’t necessarily about getting a splash of colors on your toenails, though you can do that should you fancy it. It is a form of foot care that keeps your feet healthy and looking good. It can help prevent and manage foot-related health issues — something that many of us can do better.
History of Pedicures
From the Latin words pedis meaning foot and cura which translates to cure, pedicure has a history that goes back 4000 years to ancient Babylon, China, and Egypt. Using nail polish to represent status and wealth is customary in these early civilizations. In southern Babylonia, the noblemen and women would use solid gold tools to treat their nails. They would also color their nails using kohl, with different colors representing different classes — black for the upper echelons and green for the lower classes.
In Egypt, carvings have been found throughout history, portraying a servant giving a pedicure to an Egyptian noble. Cleopatra and Queen Nefertiti — symbols of all things opulent — used to rub their hands in oils and stain their nails with henna. They painted their nails with a blood-red hue nail polish and a bolder ruby shade, respectively, as a sign of their royalty.
Around 3,000 BC in ancient China, the male and female members of the Ming Dynasty maintained long polished nails to signify that they were not meant for manual labor. The ancient Chinese would mix beeswax, egg whites, vegetable dyes, and other colorants to create nail polishes in various shades ranging from red to black.
Throughout the years, there has not been any significant change in the practice of pedicure, except that anyone — regardless of their class — can get them. Other than that, a pedicure remains a treatment that beautifies both the feet and nails. Although it has been traditionally seen as feminine, having clean and presentable nails is as equally attractive in men. Today, men are even encouraged to get pedicures for more than their cosmetic benefits, but for health reasons, too.
The Health Benefits of Regular Pedicures
It’s easy to think of pedicures as an excessive spa activity. But, just imagine the wonderful feelings you are missing out on — not to mention the health benefits of paying close attention to your feet.
1. Prevents foot-related problems
Getting a pedicure feels great. But, relaxation aside, it also contributes to your overall wellbeing. It helps prevent and manage foot-related problems like ingrown toenails, foot odor, athlete’s foot, and nail fungus —which without specialized care would be harder to control.
2. Keep dry skin in check
Dry skin on your feet may feel itchy, tight, and painful. In worse cases, cracks may also form, exposing you to risks of infection. During a pedicure, a nail technician may use pumice stones and exfoliators to rid your feet of dry skin and calluses. They may also treat you with foot soaks and moisturizers to keep them from coming back.
3. Promotes good blood flow
Aside from foot soaks, a pedicure treatment also often includes a massage of your feet and lower legs. This helps stimulate blood flow to the area, which is essential for nail health and growth. It helps relieve muscle tension, increase joint mobility, and prevent cramps.
4. Helps to de-stress
If the health benefits are not enough of a sell, maybe you fancy indulgence — the idea of getting to kind of just sit there for a while and relax. Treating yourself with a pedicure can give you opportunities to take time off and de-stress. The overall experience will free your mind from any tension, thus improving your mental health.
5. Improves appearance
Today, a clean, fashionable look is pretty much what is expected of men. While seemingly insubstantial, polished toes can contribute greatly to a well-groomed appearance. It can make you feel and look instantly good, particularly when wearing sandals.
There is an inseparable bond between foot care and overall well-being. When your nails and feet are healthy, you can prevent diseases that not only are hard to treat but also painful, therefore affecting your daily activities. For example, a callus can build up, and, though the effect is gradual, we sometimes don’t realize that it is already changing your posture and the way you walk or stand until it’s too late.
What to Expect During A Pedicure
A pedicure uses a variety of tools and involves a few steps like trimming and shaping the toenails, buffing any imperfections, and removing calluses and other rough patches. It may also include massaging the feet with lotions and oils for overall relaxation. It leaves your skin softer, your nails stronger, and you, feeling revitalized.
Whether you make an appointment at the salon or book a home service for a pedicure for men, there isn’t much for you to do except show up, roll up your pants, and sink in a massage chair, with your feet soaked in a tub of warm water. How long a pedicure will take depends on the procedure involved. Although, it will usually last from 30 to 90 minutes and you can expect the following to happen during your treatment.
As said above, a pedicure is a relaxing procedure that should not demand much effort from you. It usually starts with a soak of your feet and lower legs to soften up your skin and calluses, so they are easier to work with. More than the warm water, it’s what the spas add to the water that makes a foot soak more effective. They usually use Epsom salt which can help soften your skin and leave it less prone to bacteria growth. It can also help relieve stress and ease pain and muscle cramps to help you feel relaxed.
While soaking, you will also get a massage on your feet, lower legs, and sometimes, your arms as well. This will help stimulate blood flow, release tension in your body, improve mobility, and relieve any pain you may be experiencing. They may use essential oils for lubrication, scent, and other potential health benefits.
Exfoliation is most effective after soaking your feet. Most pedicurists will use manual tools like foot files and pumice stones to scrub your feet and rid them of significant skin buildup, particularly on the soles and sides. They may also use chemical exfoliants such as scrubs, masks, and lotions. Individually, both manual and chemical exfoliation methods give immediate results, but some technicians may still opt to use one in conjunction with the other.
To trim your toenails, your pedicurist will cut almost straight across your nail. It is essential that they cut straight across to reduce the risks of getting an ingrown toenail. They will then use a nail file or emery board to smooth rough edges, grind down broken nails, and round the nails at the corners.
Nail buffers can either be an emery board or a buffing board with varying levels of grit on the sides. Your pedicurist will use any of this to buff your nails gently and remove the roughness until they feel smooth and look shiny — as if you have applied a clear coat.
Nail Polish Coating
You can always keep your toes au naturel, but if you prefer a bit of color, you can opt to have your nails polished. For a classic look, request a clear nail polish coat, or better yet, a French pedicure for a clean and stylish look.
What to Tell Your Pedicurist
Sinking into a pedicure chair may be the ultimate act of self-care. But, before you do just that, pay attention to a few key details. There are a few things you should check out to make sure that you are leaving the salon with nothing but well-groomed feet.
- Inform your pedicurist of any medical conditions. This is particularly true if you are allergic to any products or ingredients that could trigger a reaction. You would also want to tell right off the bat when you have specific concerns like calluses, corns, or an ingrown toenail so they can customize your treatment.
- Ask about their sanitation protocols. Spas and salons are supposedly sanitary. But pedicures are at high risk of cross-contamination with the use of tools like nail clippers and cuticle pushers. Ask your salon whether they sterilize their equipment or at least disinfect it, and whether or not they discard one-time-use items like emery boards and separators after use. If you don’t want to risk it, we recommend bringing the tools yourself instead such as nippers, files, and trimmers.
- Check to see if your pedicurist is licensed. Licensing requirements vary. However, in general, pedicurists are required to obtain licensure to start working. They must undergo a state-approved training program and pass a written examination to get a license. Always check to see if the business and its pedicurists are licensed to operate.
Pedicure Cost: How Much Are Pedicures?
So, how much will it cost you to get your toenails pedicured? Today, pedicure costs can range anywhere from $15 to $45 depending on the type of treatment you are getting and other factors such as location, quality, and other inclusions.
For $15, you will most likely get a standard service that includes nail trimming, exfoliating, foot massages, and painting the toenails. On the expensive end, you get the finer version of a standard service plus other indulgences: the use of lotions and essential oils in foot soaks, aromatic sugars for exfoliation, and automatic massage chairs instead of just a regular pedicure chair. You will also have to pay extra if you want anything besides the standard pedicure. For example, a set of gel nails or acrylic, or French tips cost more than regular nail polish. Nail art will also cost you extra.
You can go in for what amounts to basic cleaning — nail clipping and shaping, foot scrub, foot soak, and massage — or opt for a higher-tier treatment complete with all those guilty pleasures.
How to DIY Pedicure at Home
Getting a regular pedicure treatment is an effective way to maintain foot hygiene, prevent and control a range of foot-related diseases, and keep your foot looking sandal-ready all the time. How often you should get a pedicure is largely a matter of personal preference or at least how fast your toenails grow.
On average, you should get a pedicure at least once a month. If you can’t find the time to visit a salon, you can do it yourself instead. Not only will it save you money but also give you time to unwind and respond to your feet’s need for pampering. Below are some of the tools you will need for your at-home pedicure.
DIY Home Pedicure Kit
- Nail polish remover
- Nail clipper
- Nail buffer
- Nail nipper
- Cuticle pusher
- Cotton balls
- Foot file
- Toe separator
- Toe and nail brush
- Nail polish
The list may look like a lot, but if you are trying to achieve that professional, spa-like treatment, you want to be prepared. Plus, these items are readily available online, usually sold as part of a pedicure kit, so you don’t have to worry about missing any of these essentials.
While at it, you might as well add these nice-to-haves to your list:
- Callus remover
- Electric nail drill for acrylic nails
- Base & top coat
1. Prepare your nails
Start with a clean slate. Although it will not take too much time, this step is essential to maintaining beautiful, healthy nails. Soak a cotton ball in nail polish remover and wipe it over your toenails to get rid of any old polish, dirt buildup, and oils.
2. Soak your feet
Fill your tub with warm water and soak your feet for 5-15 minutes. For a more spa-like experience, add a few tablespoons of Epsom salt to help relax your muscles and relieve pain. You can also add a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar to sanitize and a few drops of essential oil for scent and other health benefits.
3. Trim your nails
After a relaxing soak, pat your feet dry. The best time to trim your nails is immediately after soaking your feet and when your nails are still soft but not wet. To trim, cut straight across the toenail to prevent ingrowth. Use a nail file or emery board to shape the corners — this can help keep your nails from catching on things like furniture or clothes. Clip off any hangnails using the nipper and buff your nail beds to smooth out any rough surfaces and prepare them for nail polish application.
Your nails aren’t ready for some color just yet. After trimming, soak your feet in the water again. Gently run a foot file or a pumice stone back and forth on your heels, soles, and sides to get rid of dead skin and calluses. Then, finish with a scrub massage on your feet, ankles, calves, and lower legs.
Exfoliating strips your skin of its natural oils, leaving it dry. So, make sure to moisturize your feet, particularly the sides and soles post-scrub. You can use lotion, foot cream, or foot mask, and massage the product onto your skin, replicating the soothing feeling you get in a salon. Pro tip: use a moisturizer that isn’t too greasy, as it may leave oils on your toenails that would make it hard for the nail polish to stay on.
6. Paint your nails
Run your nails again in nail polish remover to remove any oil residue. At this point, you may want to use a toe separator so that your toes do not overlap and avoid smudging.
Base Coat: Now, for the fun part: prop your foot onto a chair, and with smooth strokes, apply a base coat to create the perfect layer for the color coat. This will also help protect the nails, prevent chipping, and avoid staining. Wait two full minutes to dry.
Color Coat: Then, apply thin, even layers of your color coat, starting from the middle toward the sides. More thin layers will last longer than fewer thick ones. Again, give the polish at least two minutes to settle before going in for another layer.
Top Coat: Lastly, seal your pedicure with a top coat. Depending on your preference, you can use one with a glossy or matte finish. Top coats protect your nails from chips. It makes your color last longer by protecting it from sun damage, water, and other external factors.
7. Clean up
Don’t worry if you’ve got any smudges around your nails. Soak a Q-tip in polish remover to clean them right up, and you’re good to go.
DIY Pedicure Essentials: Products to Have at Home
Having someone else trim, buff, file, and paint your toenails sure is the most effortless way to get a pedicure. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t recreate that spa-like treatment right at home. Here, we conclude with some of our go-to pedicure tools and products to build your home pedicure kit.
Best All-in-One: WOAMA 30-Piece Professional Nail Clipper Set
This travel-friendly pedicure kit has everything you need and everything you want to help you always put your best foot forward. It sets you up with all the essential tools like clippers, a nail file, a nipper, and other facial care equipment, all housed in an elegant leather case.
Most Spa-Like: HoMedics Bubble Mate Foot Spa
If you are willing to spend a little more on a luxurious at-home pedicure, a foot spa is one we suggest. This one from HoMedics has all of the features guaranteed to impress. It has raised nodes for a deep massage, which is further amplified by the water jets. It is equipped with a removable pumice stone to shape your feet to perfection and remove calluses and other rough patches.
Best Foot Soak: Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak with Epsom Salt 16oz
Epsom salts are a classic staple of a foot soak, providing various benefits such as pain relief, softening rough, dry skin, and exfoliating dead skin cells. Pair it with tea tree oil and the result is this all-natural therapeutic product that also helps relieve skin irritations, rashes, and inflammation.
Best for the Soles: FOOTLOGIX Double-Sided File with Rubberized Handle
Many pedicurists say that a foot file is a more gentle yet effective way to remove calluses compared to chemical removal methods that use peels, masks, peels, and creams. We are particularly impressed with this file from FOOTLOGIX because it has two levels of grit — a coarse side to use if you haven’t had a pedicure in a while and the finer side to regularly scrub your soles and sides of the feet to keep calluses in check.
Best Travel: 4-Piece Medical-Grade Stainless Steel Grooming Kit
This versatile kit has pared down your pedicure set to essentials: nail clippers, a nail file, and tweezers. They are all made of medical-grade stainless steel, which is guaranteed to remain rust-proof and sharp for several years to come. It comes in a compact leather case, that’s as handy as it is aesthetically appealing.
Gender norms are completely out the door. In the past few years, we’ve seen an uptick in men getting pedicures, and the rise of spas and nail salons that specifically cater to men is a clear indication of a growing market.
Wait a few years more and we may finally see that pedicure for men is way past being just a trend, but an obvious lifestyle choice. After all, you are a hardworking man and your feet work harder for you, and they deserve as much attention as the rest of your body, if not more.