I have always, I thought, had 'bad' feet. A keen Netball player for over 15 years, I have hard soles, hard skin and heck...even had toenails fall off before (that's what cheap sports trainers will do to you). I have regular 'pedicures' but never seem to create a long lasting change for me - a week later my heels are back to being cracked and sore again.
That is, until I visited The St. Regis Singapore and met Bastien Gonzalez.
Invited down for a pedicure at their award winning spa; I met Bastien and listened to a 60 minute talk on the art of pedicures. If you think you know anything about feet, speaking to Bastien will prove how wrong you are. In fact as soon as he saw my feet he said Ohhhh they're not bad at all, and you have lovely 'fatty' cushions on your soles. That is a compliment I've never heard of before.
Bastien is a revered podiatrist and owns his own chain of manicure and pedicure salons across the globe. He also has his own line of products too, all of which aid the 'curing' of the feet.
Whilst I have had plenty of pedicures before, this one was literally foot-changing for me. I looked down afterwards and couldn't believe it was my own feet staring back at me. I had never understood why the nails were a shade of yellow - thinking this is just normal life - until they used a soft drill to take off the top layer of my nail which has been discoloured by nail polish, revealing my naturally pink and healthy toenails underneath. The toenails were picture perfect and the soles were soft and supple. What's more, they stayed this way for weeks after treatment.
So after my incredible pedicure which left me in awe of my own feet, I felt the need to share with you all the wisdom of Bastien himself, to pass on the pedi-CURE knowledge in the hopes you can fall back in love with your own feet too.
Bastien, you are passionate about the difference between a 'pedi-cure' and a nail artist. Can you go into detail for me on the main differences?
The origin of the word is pedi ; meaning foot and leg (up to the knee) cure treatment.
Pedicure or manicure is not simply about painting nails, but curing nails - helping them to be healthier by the natural way, as well as the skin. And the most important part à very spécifique massage! So a "Pedicure de Bastien" is a true " pedi-cure".
A nail artist is painting and creating; sculpture is a form of art but this is not a pedicure.
You say a pedi-cure is to cure one's feet, but can you really 'cure' ailments in an hour treatment?
Absolutely. In one hour we can transform your feet.
Abuse of nail color discolours the nails and dries them out. I developed à special technique to cure this: a mix of technology and old french ritual to restore beautiful shiny nails using a dental drill, even to specific buffing cream.
Then the médical approach on dry skin is to clean all calluses and finally the massage mix of five techniques to liberate the feet.
The education we also share is key for long time result.
What are the main bad habits we all *think* are good for our feet, but actually it's the opposite?
Pushing down the cuticles will inflame the skin and can create déformation on the nail. The cuticle becomes thick and not esthetic. Also, cutting down the cuticle too short can have the same bad effect. We need cuticles, just need to make sure they are not too long.
Wearing nail colour all the time with no break at all discolour the nails. Also, keeping nails too long (to paint them) can damage the matrice as the nail generate micro trauma.
Do pumice stones even work?
Abrasion is one technique of three to clean the calluses - a pumice stone must be used after à long bath in hot water.
Use à big grain and don't file too fast or too deep, so you will not aggravate the skin. More importantly, after each time you file you must use à moisturising cream as this will help to slow down any inflammation.
I have hard cracked skin on my heels and soles...what is your recommendation to 'cure' this?
First of all you must have a good pedicure to clean the extra dead skin. Use a very greasy cream with vaseline to help the skin the heel as a mask every night. Give yourself a 20 second massage per foot every night too - focus on restoring the volume of the fatty cushion as it is the best way to avoid cracked heels. After three days use a moisturising cream to help the skin to regenerate faster during the 20 second massage.
Wearing high heels over open flip flops or flat sandals can help as it stops the pressure on the back heel.
How do we alter our feet so that the changes made are more permanent, rather than just feeling nice post-pedicure but a week later they're back to how they were?
It is actually extremely simple to keep the soles of your feet in better condition. Use a good cream every night to make sure the skin is well moisturized...it will also help to keep the elasticity of the skin. Also, I encourage you to do the massaging of both feet as it encourages good mobility of the joints, especially the toes.
What is your advice to cure fungus infections, and how do we even get them in the first place?
Using tea tree oil directly on the nail can help clear a fungus infection, and make sure where you go for pedicure, the tools are well sterilised.
On the skin, make sure that after you shower, you dry your skin well and use talcum powder to control humidity.
How do we know if we have a fungus infection or it's just nail discolouration?
Only correct and professional médical analyse will be able to say. Most of the time 90% it is not and more the nail detached from the bed of the nail due to microtrauma or sport traumatism of the nail.
Nail polish - is it good or bad for the nails?
Everything that makes women feel good is great! But how long do you keep your makeup on your face? You wash it off daily. So how long do you keep your makeup on your nails? This comparison says it all - should be maximum of 3 days and you must clean out. Put some oil on the nail and then you can start again – just like your face. After three days, the pigment will discolour the nail. And the occlusive effect of the plastic dries the nail!
Why do some therapists whack and bang our feet about during the treatment?
Because they have no idea of what they are doing. Lots of them have less than minimum training and work as a robot! Everything which is painful is bad.
What are the worst habits other 'pedicurists' do that we should know about and avoid?
Not cleaning their tools correctly or the basin is the worst as it transfers infections to people’s feet and nails. Not respecting the correct technique they use for the skin (cutting or abrasion or peeling) causes many issues too. The main problem is that they over-file the skin.
Toenails - file down or cut? What is best?
It all depends on how long. If you need to cut make sure you don't cut in the corner deeply (to avoid ingrowing nails) and make sure the nail clippers are good quality and in good shape because if not you can damage the nail and it can be painful.
If you have an ingrown toenail, how can you help yourself at home to return it back to normal?
A true ingrown toenail is so painful you can not even sleep! Often it is actually just an accumulation of dead skin on the side of the nail which you can gently push down with wooden stick. Just brushing around the toenails with an old electric toothbrush after the bath when skin is very wet can help à lot to maintain clean side, also use some oil regularly to keep the skin greasy and help the nail to slide better.
If you have a true ingrowing nail go and see a specialist as you will only create more damage yourself if you’re trying to fix it at home.