Clients come into your salon for a pedicure with their own ideas about what’s best for their feet—and they’ve often got the wrong idea. As a licensed, professional nail technician, you can use your time with clients to educate them on why you use the tools you do. But with so many choices, even pros like you need tips on how to choose the right pedicure foot files for your salon.
There are several properties of foot files salon owners should consider when they’re selecting pedicure foot file tools. These include ease of sanitation, grit count (the measure of the coarseness of the file), material, flexibility, and shape.
Use extreme caution when working on a diabetic person’s feet. Diabetes elevates susceptibility to infection, and the tiniest scrapes or cuts can seriously threaten a diabetic person’s health. Clients with this condition should tell you about it, but they might not: ask clients if they have any health conditions that might make getting a pedicure risky.
Remember, we’re not doctors, and neither are you: nobody’s here to provide medical advice. However, as a licensed pedicurist, you might notice signs that your clients should seek medical attention. Leave the diagnosis to the MDs. When the state of a client’s feet gives you pause, cancel the pedicure, and refer your client to their doctor. Don’t provide a pedicure unless you’re sure your client has seen their doctor and will arrive at your salon with a clean bill of health.
Pumice stones, sponges, lava rocks, ceramic stones, grit foot, and nail files are porous—as such, they can’t be fully sanitized. That’s why disposable files are the best choice for infection control. Some states prohibit all porous filing tools in salons as the danger of spreading infection is too great. The same goes for metal scrapers and razors, which should NEVER be used on skin. Most states have banned credo blades entirely and prohibit other metal instruments from being used on anything but a client’s nails. Salons should refuse client requests to use metal tools, razors, and rasps on the skin of the feet.
If your state allows reusable tools, salons may be required to use an autoclave for sterilization.
Check your state regulations to see if you’re permitted to use a type of file with a sanitizable handle or disposable adhesive grit strips. These strips peel off after each use so you can get a fresh, clean grit strip for the next use.
Ensure your salon meets or exceeds your state’s requirements for pedicure foot file use. Your client’s health, and your salon license, hang in the balance.
The grit count of a foot file is a measure of its coarseness. It’s a count of how many grains of abrasive grit fit in a square inch. The lower the number, the coarser the grit. Coarse files with high grit measures are for tougher skin, while medium and light grit files are used to shape and smooth nail surfaces.
Coarse grit files generally measure between 60-100, medium grit ranges around 80-120 grit, and lighter files start at 120 and range up from there. Most files have two sides where one side is coarser than the other.
Pedicure clients will have different issues with their feet. Some will take great care of their feet at home, and the skin of their feet won’t require much more than soaking in a sanitary foot bath followed by gentle buffing and moisturization.
Clients who are on their feet all day, who walk barefoot too often, or who insist on wearing shoes that rub and irritate their feet present more difficult issues. A single pedicure treatment won’t cure all a client’s foot woes; as a professional pedicurist, you can a consistent regimen of foot care that will ease issues like hardened heels and callouses over time.
Explain to your clients that it’s not advisable to completely remove callouses. These growths of hardened skin are there for a reason: to protect the feet from irritation (usually caused by ill-fitting shoes) or constant exposure to rough conditions.
The skin of the heels and the balls of the feet become hardened for similar reasons: to protect the foot from further damage. So while you can reduce the roughness of a client’s feet, it’s unrealistic for a client to think that they can have baby-soft skin on their feet all the time. If nothing in the rest of their routine changes, callouses will come back, and the heels and the balls of the feet will become rough again.
A good pedicure strikes a balance. It removes rough, flaky skin that causes snags and scrapes while leaving the protective layers of skin that feet need to stay healthy and stave off bleeding and infections.
Materials, Thickness, and Shape
Foot files come in many shapes and sizes. They may have wood or plastic handles with rectangular, oval, or round file areas. Other types of files come in block forms, with different levels of coarseness on the various sides, or as gritty sponges for gently removing rough skin. Other foot files include asymmetrical pumice or lava stones.
Some types of files may be more rigid, or thicker, while others will be more flexible for use on smaller areas of the foot or areas that are harder to reach.
Part of the pleasure of getting a pedicure is the sense of luxury and fun. Your clients will appreciate touches of glamor or color—even in the tools you use. Colorful foot files add a little pizzazz to the routine of having rough skin smoothed. Look into wholesale foot files, and you’ll find collections of pumice pads and sponges in a variety of fun colors. Some of them are included as elements of coordinated, disposable pedicure kits. Your clients will get a kick out of a purple, yellow, or orange disposable pumi pad that brightens up their pedicure appointment.
Your clients value pedicures as part of their beauty regimen. When you’re considering how to choose the right pedicure foot files for your salon, remember that your choice sends a message about your concern for clients’ health and safety.
Talk to your clients about taking care of their feet. Remind them that poorly fitting shoes can cause ingrown toenails, and callouses. Alert them to conditions that require medical intervention, such as fungal or bacterial infections, cuts or cracks, or signs of diabetes. Signs of diabetes include ulcers on the feet, swelling, redness, or burning and tingling sensations. If any of these are present, don’t perform a pedicure: send your client to their doctor. They’ll thank you later for your concern.