Ok. . . we’ve explained how important pedicures can be as a profit center in the salon, tried to alleviate any personal aversions to working on feet, described the service as a pleasurable, pampering experience for your clients, stated that this is the ideal season for pedicures, and advised you not to miss an opportunity to develop or expand a pedicure program.

So let’s now talk about the pedicure itself. . . and ways to profit while your client enjoys the luxuries of the experience.


But first the basics; Your objective is to beautify the feet; to cut, shape and polish toenails; reduce calluses; and massage feet and legs. Understand, however, that you are not a doctor. There are certain conditions you cannot correct and that prohibit you from performing the service. Specifically, these conditions include diabetes, heart and circulatory problems, plantar warts, fungus, acute arthritis, prominent varicose veins, inflamed ingrown toenails, severe athlete’s foot, or any obvious foot problem.

Check with your local state board for any restrictions on either the service, or implements. In Michigan, for example, pedicures need to be performed in a separate room in the salon. And it is illegal in some states for a manicurist to use a credo blade (a sharp metal knife-like tool) during the pedicure. Verify what restrictions you might be facing, and comply with these regulations.

Fees for pedicures generally range from $15 to $50, and take about an hour to complete. . . depending on the location of the salon, the clientele, and the service offered.

It is a wonderfully gratifying and luxurious experience for the client. . . especially if the surroundings are comfortable, quiet and private, enabling the client to truly relax. Consequently, the basic concern is to establish the pedicure service and station with products and equipment necessary to enhance that type of experience.

To what extent the salon or technician delves into a pedicure program is generally a function of budget. . . and of commitment. Pedicure supplies cover the entire spectrum, from the simplest lotions to expensive and exotic work stations. Try to discover first what works best for you, and what suits the budget. Then evaluate what you are willing to order before ordering supplies and equipment.


The overriding concern with any service in the salon is sterilization and sanitation, and pedicures are no exception. Your station must not only look clean, it must be clean. When deciding on equipment and supplies, consider surfaces that can be easily and repeatedly sanitized. (Laminated surfaces, for example, are easily cleaned and durable.)

All equipment and implements must be cleaned and sterilized after each client, or discarded. Always separate manicure and pedicure instruments, and sterilize foot basin after each use. Cleanse your hands with an antiseptic before and after each client, and spray client’s feet with an antiseptic before beginning the pedicure.

When using sloughing cream, do not use your fingers. Instead dip with a sanitized implement, such as a scoop. When using cuticle solvent, don’t touch the tip of the container to the toes. Instead, drop it on.


To successfully introduce or expand this service, take a look at how and where the station will be organized. . . as a well-designed pedicure area or efficient station will actually help set the stage for the experience to follow.

Because the client will be sitting for at least an hour, choose a comfortable chair. Plan for enough space for a table or pedicure stand, rack or caddy next to the chair. A table should be large enough to hold an assortment of current magazines, an ashtray (if allowed), and a hot or cold drink. (A note pad and pen can be a nice touch for the client interested in working during the service.)

Design the pedicure area to coordinate with the salon’s decor, and if possible, with privacy in mind for the client. For example, design an area with your back to the wall, the client facing it. Or consider inexpensive screens to create a partitioned, more private area in the salon.

Colourful, framed artwork and plants or fresh cut flowers are effective ways of setting the area apart, yet working within the overall decor of the salon.

When setting up a pedicure station, concentrate on the equipment and furnishings that will make the service more convenient, comfortable and efficient. Although much will be determined by budget, there are a number of pedicure stands and caddies that offer convenient supply storage, client comfort and technician efficiency at a reasonable cost. At the least, use a chair or stool with a small back rest that doesn’t restrict arm movement.

Good lighting is also essential, and overhead fluorescent lighting often needs to be supplemented with an adjustable floor or table lamp.


Those extra steps, those little touches that make the pedicure a truly memorable experience include different styles of massage such as reflexology and shiatsu, but also paraffin wax treatments and electric booties.

Paraffin treatments and pedicures go virtually hand in hand (or in this case, foot in bootie). The paraffin treatments softens and moisturizes the skin so that cuticles are more manageable and calluses can be removed more easily.

Such treatments are not, however, for those with varicose veins, high blood pressure, or any foot disorder such as athlete’s foot, fungus, etc.

Paraffin wax treatments are generally handled in one of two ways: either the warmed wax is brushed on (in what can be a time consuming process), or the entire foot is dipped into a warming bath to build the coating quickly and effectively.

Although the warming unit is a bit expensive, the treatment is very convenient, with accessories that complete the pedicure with the best possible style. For example, plastic liners and cloth booties for the feet are available, as is paraffin wax enriched with vitamins and moisturizers.

Paraffin wax requires a deal of heat to melt from solid to a liquid form, and so for initial use, or interrupted service, the baths are best plugged in for a minimum of four hours before use. But once the wax has reached the right temperature, very little heat is needed, making it more efficient and economical to leave on continuously, assuming the use of a reliable thermostatically controlled unit.

The procedure itself is simple: The foot is soaked and dried, nail polish is removed and nails are clipped and filed. Then moisturizer is massaged into the skin and the feet are dipped, toes first into the bath, submerged to the ankle. Note: It is important to maintain the level of paraffin high enough to coat the entire foot without it touching the bottom of the tank.

The feet are dipped five or six times in order to build up a wax coating of approximately one quarter inch thick. To help retain maximum heat, the nail technician then wraps the foot immediately in a plastic liner and then in cloth booties or towel, often supplied as part of an introductory kit from the manufacturer.

The warm paraffin causes an increased blood supply to the area, which in turn tones up the skin and nerve endings. The combination of heat and increased blood supply also causes the area to perspire, resulting in a cross-moisturizing process that softens the skin and makes removing dry skin and calluses much easier.

After several minutes in the booties, return to the first foot, remove the paraffin coating, and discard the plastic liners and paraffin. (New paraffin should be added after every second or third pedicure to maintain proper level.)

The foot is then dried and the pedicure continues with pushing back the cuticles, removing calluses, etc. Care should be taken to remove any excess oils from the nail bed before applying base coat.

This coating of paraffin holds in the heat for five to 10 minutes and open pores, allowing the skin to absorb the moisturizing lotions and oils either applied before paraffin application or contained in the paraffin itself. As an additional service, the paraffin bath treatment can add $5 to $15 to your pedicure service. Cost is about 50 cents per treatment.

Electric booties are another special touch for the pedicure. Heavy moisturizers are applied to the feet, which are then wrapped in plastic bags or liners before inserted into the booties for five to 10 minutes. This opens pores and causes lotions to penetrate for deep moisturizing treatment.

This service touch can add between $3 and $7 to the service, with a cost of about 15 cents a treatment.

Another aspect of the service is the potential for retailing home care maintenance items to the client. These products help maintain the soft condition of the feet between monthly salon visits and can account for as much as 30 to 50 percent of the profits derived from pedicures.

Products ideal for retail include: dry skin sloughing lotion, small callus sander or pumice stone, lotion, deodorizing foot powder, antiseptic spray for athletic clients, a favorite polish clor, base coat/top coat.


There are any number of ways to shave a little time during pedicures. . . thereby increasing your profit margins on the service.

For example, try explaining what the procedure includes while the client’s feet are soaking at the beginning of the service. This also is an excellent opportunity to describe the pedicure products you would recommend specifically for the client’s unique needs and for use between salon appointments.

Or while the service is in its final stages, just before polishing or while the client is luxuriating  in booties, use the time to start cleaning up, to empty and sanitize the foot bath, to rinse and sterilize the foot file and other implements.   

One time saving technique offered by manufacturer of a full line of pedicure products is to practice holding the nail polish bottle in your non-working hand while stabilizing the toe being polished. Always use two bottles of nail polish remover, with one constantly full so you are always working from a full bottle.

Also, set up the station so that all supplies are within easy reach, ready to use, and fully stocked.


Basic pedicure techniques have been taught, including the procedures for massage or reflexology . . . but there are still a number of points that need to be reviewed regarding the physical handling of the foot.

For example, use a stronger touch on bottom of foot and pay particular attention when working on calluses.

The objective is to soften, remove, contour and condition . . . but to remove only one layer at a time. Don’t overdo it. Calluses must be handled over time, gradually during several pedicures, not all at once. (Calluses are the foot’s natural protection, and will grow back . . . only regular pedicures will keep them under control.)

Also, when working on calluses, file feet when wet with a damp file. If either the foot or the file is too dry, too much pressure will be applied to the callus. And remember to always contour the area to the.

During the massage or when using a sloughing cream, work the heel, outside edges of the feet, the ball, edge of big toe and between the toes (an area often neglected). But avoid overworking the top area of feet or do very gently; skin is thinner on top then elsewhere, so be gentle.

Regardless of which technique you ultimately select, don’t overlook the basic foot soak. An antiseptic soak in conjunction with warm water is one way to stimulate circulation and relax overworked muscles in the feet. Following a leisurely foot bath, a generous amount of lotion both moisturizers and provides the proper medium for massage.

And if you choose to go no farther, those two steps alone would rejuvenate feet and spirits . . . and provide the basis for expanding the service at a later date.

Credit where due . . . Special thanks to the following manufacturers for use of their material:

  • Ursula Thompkins, Amber Products;
  • Rudy Lenzkes, Jr., Beautiful Feet;
  • Linda Mandell, Flowery Beauty Products/Swedish Clover;
  • Sunny Stinchcombe, Gena Laboratories, Inc.

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