How Often Should You Get a Pedicure, Really?

Plus, expert tips for extending it

How Often Should You Get a Pedicure universal image of a woman getting a pedicure
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What is it about having freshly scrubbed and painted toes that instantly makes you feel better? Though we don’t always have the time (or unlimited budget) to get a fancy massage or a manicure (which tends to chip too quickly anyway), a pedicure is a more affordable luxury that lasts longer than other treatments.

But how often should you get a pedicure for optimal nail health? We tapped two experts—a veteran manicurist and a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in nail health—for their answers ahead.

Meet the Experts

  • Jin Soon Choi is a celebrity manicurist with over two decades of experience in the industry, the founder of founder of JinSoon Nail Lacquer and the owner of JinSoon Natural Hand and Foot Spas in New York. Her work has been featured in Vogue, British Vogue and Dazed (among many other publications),and she’s worked with countless designers including Marc Jacobs, Tibi, Alice + Olivia and Proenza Schouler.
  • Dr. Dana Stern, MD, is the only board-certified dermatologist in the country who devotes her entire practice to the diagnosis and treatment of the nail. She is also an assistant clinical professor of Dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, where she teaches dermatology residents nail surgery. Dr. Stern is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and a member of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, The Council for Nail Disorders and The Skin Cancer Foundation.

The Do’s and Don’ts of an At-Home Pedicure, According to a Podiatrist

How Often Should You Get a Pedicure?

Unsurprisingly, this will depend on the individual. As. Dr. Stern explains, “Some people naturally produce more callus or participate in activities that create a lot of friction at the feet (which produces even more callus) so the frequency will vary from person to person.”

If you’re looking for an average ballpark number, Choi recommends getting a pedicure every two to three weeks to keep your polish fresh and your heels smooth.

How Often Should You Get a Pedicure A woman getting a pedicure at a salon
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What Is a Pedicure?

“A pedicure used to be a straightforward routine of simply tending to your feet,” says Choi. “It involved trimming and filing your toenails, grooming the cuticles and applying nail polish to the toes, but the fundamentals have changed over time. Nowadays, a pedicure can extend beyond mere maintenance, evolving into a luxurious ritual that pampers your feet and leaves you feeling both refreshed and relaxed.”

Dr. Stern notes there are also medical pedicures that are performed in specialized spas and salons or podiatrist's offices. As she explains, “Medi-pedis are more focused on treating issues related to the feet and nails, as opposed to a polish color. In fact, most medi-pedis that I am aware of don’t offer polish as part of the service.”

Dr. Stern also cautions that the term “medical pedicure” can be used by anyone, regardless of expertise, and advises that you do your research if you’re trying to treat the aforementioned issues, as not all pedicurists are professionally trained to address them.

What Are the Different Types of Pedicures You Can Get?

  • Basic Pedicure: The classic pedicure involves soaking, nail trimming and shaping, cuticle grooming, callus scrubbing, a soothing foot massage and the application of nail polish.  
  • Spa Pedicure: Elevating the regular pedicure experience, a spa pedicure adds a touch of luxury, which includes soaking of the feet in various ingredients, such as warm milk, with essential oils or flower petals, exfoliation of the feet, a foot mask or paraffin treatment and an extended massage sometimes incorporating hot stones. 
  • Gel Pedicure: Ideal for those seeking a longer-lasting polish (up to three weeks), a gel pedicure also eliminates the concern that the polish isn’t completely dry before putting your shoes back on because it’s cured under an LED light. This makes it a great option for anyone who’s short on time.  “I see a lot of my clients getting gel or CND shellac pedicures before going on a beach vacation or a honeymoon,” adds Choi.
  • Medical Pedicure: Typically performed by a podiatrist or a trained medical professional, a medical pedicure addresses specific foot issues. This type focuses on severe concerns like corns, calluses, ingrown toenails and diabetic foot care, prioritizing both foot health and treatment. 

How Long Does a Pedicure Take?

“The duration of a pedicure can vary widely, ranging from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the type of pedicure chosen,” says Choi.

Here Are the Steps in a Standard Pedicure: 

  • Soak Your Feet: Your technician will begin by soaking your feet in warm water to soften the skin and nails. (Note: Some salons only offer dry pedicures, which forgo the soaking step altogether.)
  • Remove Old Nail Polish: Remove any existing nail polish from your toenails. 
  • Clipping: Your toenails will be carefully clipped to your desired length. 
  • Shaping/Filing: After trimming them, your toenails will then be shaped and filed to achieve your preferred shape. 
  • Pushing/Trimming the Cuticle: Depending on your preference, your cuticles will either be gently pushed back or trimmed.
  • Callus Treatment: Any calluses or rough areas on the soles of your feet will be scrubbed away.
  • Exfoliating: If opting for a spa pedicure, your feet and legs might be further exfoliated to remove dead skin cells. 
  • Foot Massage: Arguably the best part of a pedicure, this is when your feet are massaged to promote circulation and alleviate tension. 
  • Clean the Nail Surface: Your tech will clean the surface of your toenails to make sure they’re free of any debris or oily residue that could interfere with the polish.
  • Apply Base Coat, Nail Polish and Top Coat: The pedicure will conclude with an application of base coat, followed by your chosen nail polish color and top coat for shine and durability. 
how often should you get a pedicure a woman getting her feet massaged
Moyo Studio/Getty Images

What Are the Health Benefits of Pedicures?

According to both Choi and Dr. Stern, pedicures can offer various potential health benefits including: 

  • Improved Foot Health: Getting pedicures regularly contributes to overall foot hygiene and improved foot health. 
  • Improved Circulation: The foot massage component of a pedicure can enhance blood circulation in the feet, promoting better overall circulation. 
  • Relaxation and Stress Relief: Pedicures provide a relaxing experience, helping to alleviate stress and tension for both physical and emotional well-being. 
  • Exfoliation for Skin Health: Exfoliation during a pedicure removes dead skin cells, contributing to improved skin health. 
  • Treatment of Foot Problems: Pedicures, especially medical pedicures, can address and treat specific foot problems such as calluses, corns and ingrown toenails. 
  • Detection of Problems: Pedicures allow for the early detection of potential foot issues, enabling prompt intervention and prevention of more serious problems. 

What Are Some Risks to Consider?

Like any beauty treatment, there are potential risks associated with pedicures that should be considered: 

  • Infections from Unsterilized Tools: The use of non-sterilized tools or inadequately cleaned footbaths can increase the risk of infections, leading to conditions like athlete's foot or toenail fungus. 
  • Ingrown Toenails from Improper Cutting: Ingrown toenails may occur if corners of the toenails are cut too much, especially on the big toes. It's important to cut and file toenails straight to avoid this issue. 
  • Bleeding and Infection from Excessive Cuticle Cutting: Cutting too much of the cuticles can lead to bleeding and elevate the risk of infection. It's crucial to exercise caution and moderation when dealing with cuticles. 
  • Risk of Athlete's Foot from Shared Foot Pumice: Not using a one-time-only foot pumice for the sole can increase the risk of spreading athlete's foot, especially if the pumice is shared between clients.
  • Nail trauma or nail separation (onycholysis). TK

Is There Anyone Who Shouldn't Get a Pedicure?

“Avoid pedicures if you have obvious openings in the skin, infections or cuts on your legs, feet or nails,” says Dr. Stern. “If you have a toenail issue that is undiagnosed, see a board-certified dermatologist or a podiatrist before having a pedicure to be sure that it is safe to do so. Also, if you’re diabetic and have neuropathy, you should consult your doctor before having a pedicure,” she adds.

Choi agrees, cautioning that, “Due to the increased risk of foot ulcers and infections among individuals with diabetes, it's advisable for them to consult their doctor before getting a pedicure. If they decide to proceed, it's crucial to choose a salon that follows strict sterilization protocols to minimize the risk of complications.”

how often should you get a pedicure: a woman painting her toenails
Francesco Carta Fotografo/Getty Images

How to Extend the Life of Your Pedicure

For starters, Dr. Stern recommends opting for a dry pedicure. “The nail is 1000 times more absorptive of water than the skin. Our nails are essentially sponges and the influx of water between the nail cells when soaking them will cause them to expand. Once the nail is no longer soaking, the nails will then contract, and the polish will shrink with it, too. This influx and efflux of water can make polish more likely to chip,” she explains.

Other tips for extending your pedicure include:

  • Caring for Your Underlying Nails: A healthy, smooth nail is going to take polish more easily and it’s going to last longer and chip less. It is the same analogy as taking care of your skin so that your makeup looks better. 
  • Moisturize the Skin Around Your Toenails: Incorporate daily foot care by using lotions and oils on your feet and cuticles to keep them hydrated and nourished. 
  • Exfoliate Your Heels Regularly: While showering, take the opportunity to scrub your callus and dry skin. This helps to remove dead skin cells and keep your feet smooth. 
  • Refresh Your Top Coat at Home: To extend your pedicure, apply a top coat once a week to protect your nail polish and add an extra layer of shine.

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...