It’s a fairly safe assumption that most of us use some form of cleanser, moisturiser and makeup, but do you care for your toots in the same way, beyond a speedy file and paint? Many of us book in a pedicure or two to tide us over sandal season, but that’s probably about it as far as foot maintenance goes. If a quick scrub and polish does it for you, by all means continue thus, but if you’ve noticed flakiness, cracking skin, discoloured nails, corns, calluses, oddly shaped toenails, verrucas, strange odours or any kind of lower leg or foot pain, your average foot spa likely won’t cater to you, let alone solve any issues. In fact, high street pedicures could be making your foot woes worse (I’ll come to that). Here’s what to do when your feet look more Hobbit than healthy.
According to Eudelo medical aesthetician Kristin Heider Persson, medical pedicures are ‘the done thing’ in Germany, amongst both men and women, with specialist practitioners and clinics available in most towns. In the UK, however, searching out a high quality medical grade pedicure is akin to hunting for the holy grail of grooming, i.e, a considerable challenge. The likes of Margaret Dabbs and Eudelo (see reviews below) hit the nail on the head, but it’s worth weighing up how a medical pedicure differs from your average beauty salon scrub and spruce:
Sanitation. Think autoclave tool sterilization, single use implements and scrupulous infection control. Foot graters floating in dettol doesn’t fly (in fact, grater style gadgets are off the medical pedicure menu completely).
Technology. A medical pedicure environment will look more ‘dentist’ than ‘day spa’- think scalpels, whizzing electronic files and drills, laser therapy and medicosmetics rather than the usual lotions and potions. Don’t be struck by dentist-like fear, however, as in my experience chairs are particularly cushy, tea and coffee are on tap and treatments are for the most part pleasant rather than painful.
Medical history. You might still chat about your holidays, but you can be sure that a podiatrist or qualified medical aesthetician will take your medical history. Which leads us on to the next pro...
Diagnosis. Unlike your pedicurist, a registered foot health practitioner will be able to identify, and likely treat, everything from fungal nail infections ( Galderma reports that 17% of UK adults suffer from one) to sports injuries and bunions. They’ll also be clued up on the warning signs and symptoms of more serious conditions such as diabetes and gout. As a personal example as to how key a thorough podiatry session can prove for optimum fitness, mobility and overall wellbeing, my sister’s GP recommended that she seek the services of a medical pedicurist to address multiple problems that have arisen from a horse stomping on one of her feet and a cylinder of CO2 dropping onto the other (don’t ask). She’s had a rough ride, but Margaret Dabbs and her team are helping her to heal, all the while ensuring that her feet look as pretty as possible and that pain isn’t preventing her from going out and grabbing life by the balls. Treatments don’t come cheap, but her world famous medical pedicures go far beyond beautification (although happily that’s on offer too).
Attention. A medical pedicure will likely take longer than a standard in-salon treatment, but your time and money will buy you invaluable insight into the state of your feet, cutting edge dermatological treatments tailored to your individual needs and long-lasting results. If you’ve got a foot related issue that’s bugging you, you’re more likely to get accurate answers, not to mention peace of mind, if you opt for a clinical treatment over a more pampering cosmetic pedicure.
Aftercare. If your feet seem to go gnarly in next to no time after a regular pedicure, a qualified specialist will help you to root out deep seated causes of issues and recommend either prescription or over the counter treatments to put paid to problems where possible. Podiatrists can also direct you on what not to do, which could range from advice such as not filing feet when wet (feet are more prone to dryness and infection, plus exfoliation is far less effective) to types of shoe to avoid and lifestyle elements that may be affecting the appearance and health of your feet.
Or do the next best thing…
It is possible to see a podiatrist through the NHS, but it’s likely you’ll only be able to do so if you suffer from a health condition that necessitates it (for instance, diabetes or arthritis). See your GP to assess your options, but if your concerns are for the most part cosmetic and shelling out for a medical pedicure isn’t an option, there are still steps you can take towards getting your feet sorted and silky for open toed shoe outings.
File. Margaret Dabbs advocates filing straight across rather than curving the edges of the nail, so to avoid ingrown toenails. A crystal file is far preferable to a metal one, as the smooth surface prevents chipping and cracking, which can lead to more serious problems down the line. When trimming nails, don’t go too short (another invitation for ingrowns). Leaving them too long could however be uncomfortable, especially if you exercise or run regularly, so reach a happy medium and keep an eye on them.
Massage. Demand a foot massage from your loved ones on a health basis. Massage boosts circulation, helps to ease joint pain and can transport you into a state of deep relaxation which is clearly beneficial for all around you. If you think of any other pros do let me know so that I can make my case even more solid.
Treat. The right products can work wonders, helping to stop potential infections in their tracks. If you suspect athlete’s foot and the like, a date with your local pharmacist could help to solve the problem, while the wonderful Margaret Dabbs’ has curated a treatment inspired range of her own, along with a more affordable but equally brilliant range in partnership with M&S .
Polish. ‘Five free’ polishes are the formulas to look out for for optimum nail health, as varnishes labelled accordingly are free of known carcinogens that are potentially harmful to health. Look for chic and safe brands such as Smith and Cult, Nailberry, Soigné, Butter London, Zoya, Deborah Lippmann and Priti, to name but a few wholesome mani pedi options. Nail expert Andrea Fulerton also has a pointer on removing polish:
“Stick to acetone-free polish removers to avoid dehydrating the nail.
Footwear. High heels, pointed toes and tight trainers can trigger all sorts of ailments, from nail damage to fungal infections and long term injury. If the shoe doesn’t fit…
Pedicures that go the extra mile
Eudelo Dermatology Grade Power Pedi Cure , £165 or £399 for a course of three
Whether you go just once to analyse where your feet are at and treat them to a long-lasting groom and thorough health check, or visit head medical aesthetician Kristin Heider Persson to establish a treatment plan, the team at Eudelo will do whatever it takes to deliver foot model worthy results. Nothing is too much trouble, even the most high-tech of treatments can be carried out onsite and feet emerge looking positively radiant post-appointment. I rocked up with the remnants of a mysterious skin rash and some pretty dire psoriasis, and I’m still feeling and seeing the benefits over two weeks in. Kristin encourages a break from polish, so bear that in mind if colour is a priority. Ask to sample the D’Oxyva finger gadget- it improves blood flow painlessly, and is particularly advantageous for diabetics. Kristin informs me that some people feel a bit ‘high and floaty afterwards’, which could be a bonus if you like that sort of thing.