By Ryan on April 7th, 2018
At the mere mention of pedicure, most of us guys have a very quick and often expressive reaction: something along the lines of “Nope, guys don’t get those.” No matter the specific reason, it tends to stem from the simple fact that we think it’s emasculating. After all, we have only ever seen women sitting in those comfy chairs, feet pampered to high heaven. But gender norms aside, why should a man get a pedicure in the first place? Is there any real benefit? Is it worth the money?
On one warm April morning, I set out to do some in-the-field research for you, my loyal readership. That’s right, I went out and had a pedicure. My first one ever. At the age of 34.
How did all of this come to be?
Well, I happened to cross paths with the owner of Frank’s Gentleman’s Salon, Lisa Franz, at an event earlier in the year. She told me the story behind the shop and her passion to provide Denver men with a masculine space that offered not only a great haircut, but more spa-like services such as facials, manicures, and yes, pedicures. We talked just a little bit about Denver culture and I even did an impromptu survey among the other guys in the room at the time: I asked who had ever had either a facial or pedicure — and…about half the dudes raised their hands.
Suffice it to say, the combination of Lisa’s enthusiasm and my own curiosity were enough to push me over the edge and treat my feet to the good life.
Right off the bat, I explained to Lindsey, my pedicurist at Frank’s, that I needed instructions…on everything. I knew that I needed to remove my shoes at some point, but that was about all I knew. Fortunately, Lindsey was very patient and kindly walked me through each of the steps.
The first thing I was instructed to do was to remove my boots and socks and roll my pant legs up near the knee. So, if your go-to pant legs are aggressively tapered (i.e. Instagram ready), you may want to put on something a little roomier for pedicure day to ensure that you can get them rolled up all the way up.
The reason that this is important is that your feet are going into a little bath. Ankle deep and filled with warm water on what I can only guess was a softly vibrating floor board, I would have been content if this was the full extent of a pedicure. But no, there was more.
One foot at a time, my nails were trimmed and any gunk from beneath the nails removed. At one point, there was some sort of “cuticle softener” applied.
Speaking of cuticles — and I realize that this isn’t anything we like to talk about — but one of the major benefits for a man to get a pedicure is to keep your cuticles in good shape. When they aren’t kept healthy, that’s when nasty things like infections can happen. None of us want that.
For the next 45 minutes I pulled one foot out of its bath to have some work done while the other foot went back in. And I should note that there weren’t any heavily perfume-smelling products used at any point during my pedicure. Every step and oil and tool was practical and there for a reason.
When my toe nails were done, Lindsey turned her attention to my heel and rubbed on a sea salt scrub to help remove any dead skin. She then gently filed off the little dead skin or otherwise rough areas that remained. Callouses were also evaluated and treated if necessary. I think that there was some pumice stone action, but at this point, I was zoning out and super relaxed.
As I sat there in that nice comfy spa chair, I realized that with the sole exception of a Foot Reflexology Treatment I had in Singapore years back (where it is wildly popular among both men and women, by the way), I hadn’t really had anyone touch my feet. Certainly not a stranger.
Generally speaking, feet are a bit of a private place on our bodies. They rarely see the light of day in the Western world and don’t receive any focused attention. So, for the first five minutes or so of my pedicure, I admit that I was a little on guard. But as I settled in, the whole process became very relaxing.
The final act of the pedicure was focused more on my calves and became more of an overall foot massage. And yes, there was a hot towel involved! Not a bad way at all to end the treatment, if you ask me.
When it was all said and done, looking down at my toes and feet, they were noticeably better looking and felt very soft. It was a relative joy to put my socks and boots back on and walk out. Not because I was happy to leave, but because my feet felt so damn good.
The whole shebang lasted around 45 minutes and was nothing short of relaxing from start to finish. However, I should note that my feet were in pretty darn good shape from the get go (Lindsey confirmed this); if yours need a little more work, there might be a little more tough love involved.
In my research for this article, it became clear in a hurry that the big style magazines agree: men should have pedicures. Both Esquire and GQ pretty much look at the pedicure issue as a no-brainer: that it will help to keep your feet healthy and looking good.
Let’s not forget that even though the GQ’s of the world have given their blessing, there’s definitely a stigma around men having work done on their hands and feet, isn’t there? I would say even moreover in the Denver area.
And on some level, there’s a feeling that us men shouldn’t spend too much time taking care of our hands and feet. I’ll admit that I have my limits. For instance, I’m very proud of the calluses on my palm from deadlifting and I am not going to let anyone take them off! [They would just build right back up anyway] That being said, if taking care of my nails, hands, and feet can prevent a nasty cuticle infection, cracking of the heels, or help me to look handsome at the pool or in the yoga room, then I’m all ears.
But there are some very real practical benefits to taking good care of your feet and treating them to a pedicure now and again. Adventure athletes and weekend warriors take note: healthy feet will not only help you to recover from outdoor activities, but may improve your performance. In fact, a growing number of professional athletes (e.g. Lebron James) are getting pedicures to enhance their performance on the court.
Lindsey explained to me that everyone from trail runners, to construction workers, to anyone recovering from hiking a fourteener the day prior, ends up in the same chair that I was sitting in.
I learned during my pedicure (thankfully) that polish isn’t normally applied to the toe nails of male clients. Lindsey told me that it’s certainly an option, but that most pedicures and manicures for men don’t include any sort of polishing beyond a basic cleaning up of the nails.
I also asked Lindsey if she and her teammates were very often confronted with, shall we say, extremely challenging feet? After all, us guys aren’t known for having great looking feet. She said that there’s not much she can’t handle or hasn’t seen. And that it’s extremely rare for a pedicurist to need to refer a client to a doctor. So, rest assured, no matter how rough and “manly” you think your feet might be, they’re probably not that bad. Pedicurists are trained professionals and will work to get your feet in better shape no matter what.
How do you know if you need a pedicure? Well, if your toe nails are long enough that they are poking through your socks or you’re terrified of wearing flip flops this summer or taking a yoga class, those are probably clear signs. And from a sartorial perspective, just trimming your nails will help your socks to last longer and prevent an unraveling of the inner hem on your pant leg (sometimes long nails can catch this seam when putting on your pants and eventually unravel it).
Lisa and Lindsey recommend treating your feet to a pedicure about every eight weeks. [And I recommend following up on this visit with a trip to the nearby Chase building to have your shoes shined for your own version of a spa day.]
Finally, although I had my phone with me to write notes on, I’d recommend bringing a friend for your first pedicure. Maybe it’s a lady friend, your sister-in-law, your mom, or one of your buddies, your first pedicure will be an experience, so bring someone along to share it with.
Visit Frank’s website here or walk right into their shop at 2111 Larimer Street in Denver. Aside from pedicures, they do quite a few haircuts and even cater to bachelor parties.