Until recently, I was your typical New York City pedicure aficionado. Occasionally, I would stop by my neighborhood nail place for a soak and foot scrub and get my toenails painted, typically in a loud summery color. It was only when I traveled to Bangkok and stayed at the ultra-luxe Mandarin Oriental that I learned everything I thought I knew about pedicures was actually inaccurate.
I was treated to a Bastien Gonzalez pedicure, considered to be the Rolls-Royce of the industry at approximately $200 a pop; $1,500 with the master himself. Gonzalez has treated the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Campbell, and Cate Blanchett to his pedicure, a procedure that merges well-being and beauty. He’s a trained podiatrist who views pedicures as a health treatment and not just an aesthetic improvement. Here’s what I learned:
Pedicures Are Best Administered Dry
That soak you get at the start of a pedicure isn’t actually good for you. “When feet are soaked, it’s difficult to spot the dead and dry skin,” says Alex Luton, manager of Bastien Studio at Mandarin Oriental. “Performing the pedicure/manicure dry gives the podiatrist a clear idea of how to effectively deal with the skin and nails.”
Never Cut Your Cuticles
When you get a traditional pedicure, it seems as though the technicians can’t remove enough cuticle. However, that may have a big health downside for your nails. “Cuticles are there to protect the nails from fungus, bacteria, and infection,” says Luton. “If you remove the cuticle, that space is wide open and anything can get in there causing infections. We can remove the excess of dry cuticles, but must never damage them.”
Buffing Can Replace Polish
Harsh acetone in regular nail salons can create white spots on your nails. This was one of the chief reasons I never let my toenails go bare. However, that resulted in a vicious cycle of constantly needing salon pedicures, which then would make my nails look unhealthy underneath. At Bastien Gonzalez, they don’t apply nail polish, but rather make nails look great with a shammy leather buffer, an old-school technique that brings out the natural beauty in our nails.
Applied with gentle friction, it ups the blood circulation around the nail, thereby stimulating its overall health. Follow this with Bastien Gonzalez Nail Brightness Buffing Cream, which works like a microscopic scrub, and your nails will be super smooth and shiny almost like a clear polish. However, instead of polish, your nails are gleaming all on their own.
Scrubbing Should Be Gentle
My least favorite part of regular salon pedicures is the harsh sponge and aggressive foot files used, one, because I am so ticklish that I think I will die each time; and two, it feels like my feet are under attack. During my Bastien Gonzalez pedicure, a gentle scrub was applied instead and formulated with black diamond, mother of pearl, and black volcanic sand granules, which cleansed away dead skin revealing softer feet. The pedicurist recommended I use the scrub, perfectly suited for cracked feet, on a daily basis rather than wait to remove dead skin cells with occasional salon pedicures.