Everything the serious pedicurist needs to increase her pedicure business and improve her techniques.


The One-Hour Pedicure

Today’s pedicures are more than just manicures for feet.

Today’s pedicures are more than just manicures for feet.

Most people---men and women alike—are self-conscious about their feet. It’s probably all for the best, according to them, that we live in a culture that considers socks and shoes civilized attire.

These people are also likely to view the professional pedicure as the ultimate self-indulgence, something the wealthy society matron squeezes in after her massage or that 16-year-olds do at slumber parties.

But the maintenance pedicure, generally done once a month, is your tool to change the way people look at their feet. The pedicure is more than just a manicure for feet.

Just as with the natural manicure, there are other services---such as reflexology and paraffin dips---that can be added to the pedicure to heighten client satisfaction as well as boost your service ticket. Pedicures can draw $15-$50 for an hour’s service, depending on your location, clientele, and service extras. And they are a natural sell to your existing nail clients.

While the pedicure makes feet more attractive and helps prevent foot disorders, there may be times you’ll turn away a pedicure client because of medical conditions. Diabetes, impaired circulation, infected ingrown nails, athlete’s foot, plantar warts, and fungal infections are all conditions that should be treated by a doctor. Tactfully explain why you cannot perform the service and refer the client to a physician. And be sure to invite her back warmly when the condition has cleared.

SETTING THE STAGE                                                                                                                                              

Start a pedicure program by re-evaluating your pedicure area. Private, comfortable surroundings enable the client to relax and enjoy the service. Seating pedicure clients in the center of the salon not only unnerves the client, but may discourage other clients from trying the service. To some, it may be the same as answering the front door in a bathrobe----they just won’t do it.

Manufacturers make pedicure stations for every salon budget and floor plan, so don’t ignore your own comfort or convenience. Your seat should be low enough so you aren’t hunched over the client’s feet. Most pedicure units will include a stool or seat designed to keep the pedicurist as comfortable as the client. You can also purchase pedicure stands and caddies that offer ample supply storage at a convenient, efficient height.

When you book pedicure appointments, remind your client to wear a long skirt, shorts, or pants that can be pushed up or rolled up easily. Tactfully explain that short skirts may not be comfortable for this particular service. Also remind her that polish takes approximately 7-8 hours to dry fully so she should bring open-toe shoes or sandals. Suggest that male clients wear shorts, sweats, or generously cut slacks that can be pushed or rolled up.


Salon sanitation is always an issue, but it’s especially important to be conscientious and conspicuous about sanitation when doing pedicures. People often think of feet as germ-laden. Although that preconception is not generally justified, you must demonstrate sanitation practices to clients.

Sanitize the foot bath and wipe down to both the footrest and all other non-porous surfaces with an antiseptic cleanser. Disinfect implements according to your state board’s regulations.

Disposable supplies, such as files, cuticle sticks, and toe separators can be used on one client only. Either give them to the client after the service, put them in a plastic bag with the client’s name on it for use at the next pedicure, or throw the implements away. Don’t be afraid to let the client see you do this. It will reassure her of your interest in safety.

You will need the following supplies for a pedicure: foot bath, anti-fungal antiseptic, foot softener, toenail clippers, foot file, fine and medium grit files, hard sponge, pumice stone, sloughing lotion, cleansing scrub, skin lotion, cuticle softener, polish remover, polish, base and top coat, toe separators, cotton, cuticle nippers, orangewood, stick, several clean towels, and disposable slippers.

1 Fill the foot bath with warm water (99-100) and add an anti-fungal antiseptic. Check the water’s temperature with your wrist to make sure it’s not too hot.

2 Help the client remove her shoes if she hasn’t already. Before you place her feet in the bath, examine each foot for any medical problems. Discontinue the pedicure now if there is any indication that this client has a condition that should be referred to a physician. If the feet are basically healthy, place them in the soak and make sure the client is comfortable. Let the feet soak for 5-10 minutes. Use this time to arrange your equipment and double check that you have everything you need.

3 Drape a towel on the footrest or your lap and place the left foot on the towel. Pat the foot dry and remove old polish.

4 Massage cuticle cream or oil into the cuticles. Let it absorb while you trim and file the nails. Cut the toenails straight across, no shorter than free edge. Rounded edges encourage the nails to grow into the skin, causing painful ingrown nails. File the edges smooth so the nails won’t split or snag on stockings.

5 Push back the cuticles while they are still pliable. Trim only hangnails, but be especially cautious. Using the flat edge of the nippers, squeeze firmly and release without tugging on the skin. Feet are especially susceptible to poor circulation so it’s very important not to nick the client. Poor circulation and a moist environment make feet prime candidates for infection.

6 Buff the nail plate longitudinally in one direction to remove stains and smooth ridges.

7 Place the foot back in the soak and repeat steps 3 through 6 on the right foot.

8 Put the right foot back in the bath, remove the left foot, and pat dry with a clean towel. Energetically rub the entire foot with sloughing lotion to remove dead skin. Calluses may be more resistant and you may need to rinse and dry the foot and use a foot file. Remember, calluses are protective layers of dead skin built up in response to excessive rubbing and pressure. You only want to reduce the layer, not remove it entirely. Use your sense of touch as well as sight to decide when to stop, and ask the client to tell you if the area becomes sensitive.

9 Dust off any dead skin and put the left foot back in the soak. Repeat step 8 on the right foot but only rinse it in the foot bath and then pat it dry.

10 Remove the left foot and pat it dry. Use warm lotion and start the massage. Use a circular kneading motion, working your way up to the knee. Take your time with this step because the massage is the part of the pedicure service that will bring the client back again and again. Watch the client during the massage. Pay attention to the motions that please her and continue them. When you’re finished, wrap the foot in a towel up to the ankle, leaving the toes exposed. Repeat this step on the right foot. Wipe all 10 nails with antiseptic cleanser to remove all traces of cuticle cream and lotion. Apply a base coat, two coats of polish, and a top coat. Apply top coat to the underside of the nail and across the tip of the nail to seal the nail and protect the polish.

11 Remove the towels and have the client slip on her sandals. Always have a few pairs of disposable slippers on hand in case she forgot to bring open-toe shoes.

Incorporate one or more add-on services into the pedicure service to make the experience especially pleasing for the client (and profitable for you). Aromatherapy, hot booties, paraffin dips, and reflexology are treats that keep pedicure clients coming back.

The appointment should take approximately one hour. New clients may take a little longer if their feet have been neglected.

Make sure your client has all the necessary maintenance products and reschedule her next pedicure appointment in about four weeks. As soon as she leaves, return to the pedicure area to sanitize equipment and restock supplies; your next appointment should arrive in about 10 minutes.

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