Is there more to pedicuring than soak, clip, file, massage, and polish? Most definitely. Nellie Neal, a master pedicurist and the owner of Get Nailed in Minnetonka, Minn., has turned the pedicure into an art form — he reveals his favorite techniques so that you can, too.
Any doubt that Nellie Neal is at the top of his game with pedicures vanishes when you read his Facebook reviews: “Most luxurious pedicure ever!” “This is not your typical pedi — get ready for a real treat!” “It’s worth the drive — we venture 2 ½ hours to see Nellie!”
Not one to do things by halves, Neal has earned certification as a Master Pedicurist and as a Podologist through the North American School of Podology. Through years of experimentation and practice, Neal has created a portfolio of services that address challenging foot problems: ingrown toenails, severely cracked heels, missing or misshapen toenails are all in a day’s work. Plus, the feet look gorgeous when they walk out the door. If you want a little of that Nellie magic, read on for some ideas you can adopt in your own service menu.
It starts on the phone. Start your pedicure service with a phone consultation if the client books in advance. Ask her questions such as does she have diabetes or any other health issues you should know about. Encourage her to describe her skin condition and if she is looking for a pedicure that’s relaxing, cosmetic, or both. If the client is a walk-in proceed to step 2.
Guest consultation — learn to ask the right questions and use an intake form. First, remove the nail polish so you get a visual on the client’s nails. Here is what to assess:
a. Health conditions
b. Skin condition
c. Sensitivity to massage and pressure
(Click here to see Neal’s intake form.)
Towel wrap. Keep the feet cozy at all times by having a soft towel wrapped around each foot whenever you aren’t working on the skin. It’s a simple gesture that feels really good and spa-like.
Toe flossing! Use soft towels (such as Soft Landings) to gently weave in and out of the area between your client’s toes. Although it sounds odd, toe flossing provides effective and gentle cleansing that will keep your pedicure sanitary and also help maintain your client’s personal hygiene. Use this time to educate your client about the importance of cleaning and drying between the toes.
Make product choices a serious matter. You want to find a product line that works for your clients, and stand behind it. “You can get results and pampering with the right products,” Neal says. He likes LCN’s Urea Pedicure line for its “results-oriented ingredients.” Take advantage of industry tradeshows like Premiere Orlando, IBS, and ABS to discover products and techniques that are effective for the foot care issues that matter most to your specific clientele.
Whatever filing method you choose, balance effectiveness with ease of sanitation. Neal uses an e-file for callus reduction and for dead skin cleanup. He also uses it to smooth the nail. E-file bits are easy to clean and disinfect — Neal uses a hospital-grade autoclave for thorough sterilization. If you choose to hand file, use a file made specifically for the feet that is completely sanitizable and uses disposable abrasive pads. Also check out many of the callus softeners available to professional nail techs.
Sanitary procedures are the most important steps. Make sure you understand and follow a consistent protocol that meets (or exceeds) your state’s requirements. Using an autoclave for implements or using single-use implements are two good ways to ensure the highest level of sanitation. For best practices in pedicure bowl sanitation refer to the International Nail Technicians Association/Nail Manufacturers Council’s Guide to Pedicure Equipment Cleaning and Disinfecting.
Nellie Neal uses a Kansa Wand during his 20+-minute foot massage.
Up your massage game! Neal incorporates many forms of massage into his treatments including reflexology, energy work using a Kansa Wand, and assisted stretching techniques. Look for classes at tradeshows or contact the American Massage Therapy Association. Don’t rush this part of the service — you are very likely the only one providing this kind of therapy in the client’s life. Factor in at least 20 minutes for the massage and make sure you upcharge clients for your expertise.
Consider offering special services, such as ingrown toenail therapy. Neal uses a product called a B/S-brace. Thin strips fit over a toenail and gently contract to ease curvature and relieve pressure. The product is distributed in North America through www.bs-brace.com.
Toenail reconstruction is something more and more clients are requesting. Whether the toenail is unsightly or is even missing entirely, reconstruction techniques can provide cosmetic results that are wearable and real-looking. Neal uses Barefoot Gel by LCN; he creates a new nail with the product and applies it before the service begins.
Neal charges $75 per nail for this procedure. Neal is often asked to reconstruct a damaged toenail. He uses a gel that is flexible for natural foot and toe movement. It can be used over a nail or bare skin.
Nellie Neal’s Callus Reduction Technique
1. Gently pat dry the foot. Spray or apply a callus reduction treatment on the entire foot.
2. Using a 180-grit file, gently buff the sensitive areas to remove excess debris. Start with the medial (outer) side of the big toe. Continue around each digit and down the lateral (inside) and medial (outside) sides of the foot; then on to the arch. (Tip: Apply pressure to the spot just under the ball of the foot to help reduce the tickling sensation.)
3. Continue with callus reduction using a stainless steel foot file. Do not reduce the callus more than 80%.
Nellie Neal is a certified Master Pedicurist and Master Podologist through the North American School of Podology. He specializes in pedicures at his salon Get Nailed. Follow him on Instagram @getnailedbynellie.
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