Let’s face it, they’re not the prettiest of things. Two bony plinths at the end of a duo of gangly limbs with five mini stubs spurting out from the tip. They’re hairy. Prone to fungal infection. Sweatier than a fry up in a sauna. We call them feet, and they’re pretty grim.
But gents, they could be so much better-looking than they are. The fairer sex manages it pretty easily without needing to clear space in their diary several nights a week. Now look back down at yours, hidden behind layers of sock and shoe lest someone realise the revolting truth. Perhaps it’s time to do something about them. Clip the nails? Duh. A scrub? Sure. A pedicure? It could be time.
What Is A Pedicure?
Let’s just pour cold water on a few pre-conceptions off the bat and say that a pedicure is not about having your tootsies painted. It’s a therapeutic foot treatment that files off dead skin, softens unsightly hard bits, tends to oft-ignored cuticles and shapes and treats the toenails.
It starts with a warm, soapy soak (who doesn’t love one of those?) and ends with a gentle massage to help boost circulation in your feet, which in turn promotes cell growth and organ function through the body.
Sounds like something you can do at home right? Sure, if you have the flexibility and balance of a Soviet gymnast. The average pedicure takes between 45 minutes and an hour. Even with a few stretches before, there’s little chance your knees will bend for that long. There are also countless mistakes that can be made your feet left in your own hands.
Why Should You Get A Pedicure?
Your feet aren’t just there so you have something to stick a pair of Derbies on, they can also tell you a lot about your general health and warn of underlying conditions. So it pays to look after them.
During a pedicure, the therapist will be able to deal with early problems before they become something altogether more dastardly. Ingrown toenails are one such issue that, if left untreated, can lead to foot ulcers or open sores.
“One of the biggest mistake guys make is cutting their nails too short,” says Louise Cantwell, a therapist at London grooming destination Gentlemen’s Tonic. Doing this exposes the nail bed underneath which can become prone to infection, while the uncovered flesh can come up over the side, forcing the toenail to grow painfully downward into the sidewalls.
If your toenails are in particularly bad shape, such as if you play sport (there’s a reason David Beckham and Shaquille O’Neal are both fans of the treatment), regular pedicures that focus on reshaping the nail can significantly aid the ingrown prone.
“It’s also advisable to have a full pedicure once every four to six weeks to prevent the build-up of hard skin,” says Cantwell, referring to areas such as the heels which can become dry, swollen and eventually crack. “However, if you have a full pedicure and then keep up with an express foot treatment every three weeks, you don’t really need to have a full pedicure as often. Although this does depend on the condition of the individual’s feet.”
The Experience: What’s It Like To Have A Pedicure?
It’s 9am on a crisp winter Wednesday, and I’m half expecting someone to ask me if I want a quiff or a crew cut at any moment. Not that I’m in the barbers, I’m not even in the market for a haircut, though I am sat in an old-fashioned barber’s chair. In fact, I’m checked in for a pedicure at Gentleman’s Tonic: a spa destination in London’s Mayfair that prides itself on creating a space that feels more like a members club for men.
On agreeing to experience what is arguably one of the final frontiers of male grooming, I half expected to be sitting in a line with a flock of gossiping housewives, but preconceptions are there to be broken. Instead, I’m in a private wood-panelled booth surrounded by magazines, with my feet bobbing about in a bowl of soapy water.
After 10 minutes, Louise, my therapist who regularly gets men’s ugliest appendages in order, lifts my leg up to begin work on the end and sides of the nails. She immediately remarks that mine have been cut too short (my own doing), adding that it’s better to leave them longer rather than lop off too much.
A large foot file shaped like a paddle then goes to town on the soles of my feet, leaving a pile of fleshy snow on the floor. The whole experience has been pretty painless so far. That is until it comes to the unsheathing of the cuticles. The instrument of torture looks more like something designed to cut lino flooring than anything belonging in a spa.
With each pinch, I can feel the result of keeping my feet still for half an hour setting in; a severe case of pins and needles, like I’ve stepped on a Lego brick. But there’s a pay off soon to come. After the toenails have been buffed to perfection and a drop of cuticle oil applied to each, I can thank the lord of foot care for the relaxing massage that follows.
Before I can leave, I’m told there’s one final step that is unnecessary for some but not in my case. Given that my hooves haven’t looked this fresh since pre-school, I go along with it and get them waxed. The pain only lasts for a split second, and with that I glimpse upon the finished result, gleaming back at me. If only I had booked a holiday by the pool to go show them off, rather than stuffing them back into their Chelsea boots cave.