You don’t have gross feet. You know who has gross feet? Runners. Compared to the general population, runners brutalize their poor feet with blisters, broken toenails, and other ailments. “My toes usually bare the brunt of the damage. I've lost some toenails along the way,” said Natalie, a runner who has competed in 76 races since 2002. But for the mom of two, it’s a small price to pay for the thrill running gives her: completing an Ironman, finishing a 5K in under 21 minutes, notching a personal record at the Milwaukee Marathon while she was eight weeks pregnant.So if busted feet are just part of the price of running, what are runners to do? One small indulgence is a pedicure. Natalie likes to schedule one just before her races. “I need some pampering after all of the work I put into training,” she said.
And those poor feet of hers? “Once [a nail technician] asked if I dropped something on my toes,” she said. “That's the only time I am sorry about being a runner. … I feel self-conscious for a millisecond and then get back to reading my girly mag.”
If you’re still concerned that your feet are too gross for a pedicure, then listen to the experts. We spoke to three nail-salon professionals: Katie Grays, owner of Bella Donna Day Spa in San Jose; Irene from Fifi Nail Salon in New York City; and Barb Shea from Team Blonde outside Chicago, who spoke to us at length about nail-salon etiquette. All three assured us that you have nothing to worry about.
Below, the three reasons you can relax and learn to love your feet:
They’ve seen it all
“We are the professionals and we see it all,” Katie said. “So if you think that you are ‘weird’ or ‘strange,’ ask us. You will be surprised how frequently we see it.”
“We take care of all kinds,” Irene said, “from the beautiful feet to the warted feet.”
“We’d rather educate our clients than be grossed out,” said Barb. “So if we see a built-up callus, we’ll reduce it as much as we can and then give the client recommendations [to keep it from coming back]. As far as yellow toenails, that’s usually from polish, [and] we’ll tell them how to take care of it.”
They have services to care for the gnarliest of feet
There’s probably a solution at the salon for what ails your dogs. Irene noted Fifi Salon’s European medical pedicure, which takes aim at calluses and ingrown toenails, finishing with a 15-minute reflexology treatment.
Even if they can’t treat you, they can refer you
“If you suffer from ingrown nails, we can assist … but only to a certain point,” Katie said. “The State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology will only allow us to go so far. If you have a large ingrown then we may refer you to your doctor. Please don't ask us to go further, we simply can't. We would love to help as much as we can, but we don't want to make it worse either."
“If someone were to have a foot fungus, we’ll ask them, ‘Have you noticed your toenails looking different?’” Barb said. “Nine times out of 10, they already know what they have. We can’t diagnose them, but we can refer them to a podiatrist.”
Illustration by Kelly MacDowell, Groupon