I’m a travel writer with an embarrassing secret: I’ve never had a pedicure. My feet are a mess, despite me knowing I should take care of them. As a city-dweller with no car, they are my main means of transportation.
So when the Hotel Metropole Monte Carlo — a luxury hotel in Monaco — invited me to spend a weekend eating Michelin-starred meals and try out the services at Pedi:Mani:Cure Bastien Gonzalez Studio, I decided to face my fears, cracked heels first. Because if any one treatment can make up for a lifetime of neglecting my feet, the 160€ pedicure (that's approximately $185 USD) that Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett swear by (according to Forbes.com and The Daily Mail,) has got to be it.
The day of my treatment, I check in to the hotel early and wash and dry my feet before their close-up (not required, I was just paranoid to show up with dirty feet). To be honest, I’m a little nervous about having anyone touch my rock-hard calluses and diamond-strength toenails, but I comfort myself with the thought that a professional’s surely handled way worse.
After a glass of rosé (for courage), I head to the Spa Metropole by Givenchy and briefly gawk at the space designed by Didier Gomez (shown above) and the attendants uniformed by Givenchy and then Gaspar, the man who’s going to make my feet beautiful, is leading me to a private treatment room. Like Bastien Gonzalez, the nail and foot guru who founded the studio, Gaspar is French, and like all of the studio’s technicians, he’s a licensed podiatrist trained in the studio’s healing beauty treatments.
After working for Bastien Gonzalez in Dubai and Marbella before landing in Monaco, Gaspar is used to speaking English at work and quickly schools me in the how and whys of what he’s doing to my feet. He tells me the pedicure is done on dry feet because water softens them too much, and runs the risk of removing too much skin, potentially causing injury and infection. Despite the array of pointy, dangerous-looking tools Gaspar’s using to remove dead skin and calluses on my feet, I feel no pain and minimal shame. Before I know it, my feet are being buffed and exfoliated into submission. After that, he slathers them up with a rich moisturizer and makes me forget I was ever reluctant to let someone touch my feet. This is definitely the best massage I’ve ever had. Forget about full-body, the feet have it.
My feet look (and feel) better than they have in years. Even though this is a polish-free or “naked” pedicure, my nails are pearly and pink. Gaspar explains that this is because nails “need to breathe” and polish “blocks the pores.” He advises “massaging and moisturizing,” not polish, for pink and shiny nails, and looking down at my own feet, I see his point.
Shockingly, he also congratulates me on the starting state of my feet before I head out. Apparently, my minimalist treatment (washing, wearing shoes, eschewing pedicures) hasn’t done any harm. But before I leave the spa, I ask for his best tips to keep my feet healthy (and cute), because if this pedicure has convinced me of anything, it’s that your feet deserve pampering, too. Read on for a few tips that will keep your feet gorgeous, and more importantly, healthy:
Let your nails breathe. If you must wear polish, be sure to take breaks. Try three days on, one day off, or one week on, one off.
Massage your nail beds. Using your fingers, or a file, stimulate your nail beds for a few minutes daily for improved circulation.
Only use pumice stones, files, and scrubs on dry feet — softening your feet up with water or lotion makes it easy to overdo it.
Cut your toenails square, don’t get creative with the shape, you’ll get ingrown nails.
Don’t push your cuticles down — it causes nail caves. Instead, clean the sides of your nails with a toothbrush twice a week to clean out any dead skin.
For shine without polish, wash and dry your nails, then rub them with olive oil.
Skip the cheap pedicures. Poor techniques and hygiene can mean infections and long-term damages to your feet.
Rub lotion into your feet before bed.
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