By Kelly Youngblood
When I told my friends I was going to get a dry pedicure, most of them looked at me with puzzled looks on their faces. It’s the same face I made when my editor asked me if I’d be interested in getting one and writing about the experience. But in the interest of research and education (and because ANY kind of pedicure has to be a good thing, right?), I quickly agreed.
I had my doubts though. Dry means waterless (duh) so no soaking my feet in that warm, sudsy basin, which happens to be my favorite part of a traditional pedicure.
I knew some people worried about the sanitary conditions, but to be honest, I had trusted that the professional pedicurists were cleaning and sanitizing everything as they should.
When I learned the only place that offers dry pedicures in the area is the Barefoot Medical Spa at Christie Clinic’s Department of Foot and Ankle Surgery, I thought the whole idea seemed “too medical” for me.
In fact, the dry pedicure at Christie Clinic is considered medical grade. They began offering it a few years ago for their patients with diabetes as a safer alternative since the risk for infection is presumably lower. People with other foot-related medical issues such as nail fungus also take advantage. However, in the last year or so, more people without medical issues have started doing dry pedicures for (mostly) sanitary reasons. The clients in the latter group has really grown.
No walk-ins available here — you must call and make an appointment. So I called and a week later arrived at Christie Clinic at the Fields, 3101 Fields South Drive in Champaign, with dry heels, chipped toe polish, and a tad bit of skepticism.
It was a bit odd to check in at the front desk of Christie Clinic for a pedicure. I should note, I’m not a regular Christie patient and you don’t need to be to go to the foot spa. Still, I felt like I was there for a doctor’s appointment, which for me, induces zero feelings of relaxation. I sat in the waiting area with “actual patients” who were there for, I assume, various medical reasons.
At this point, I’m kind of missing the nail salons I’ve typically gone to where you just walk in, grab your polish and a magazine, and wait for a chair to open up. But soon a friendly face called my name, took me to a room that looked like a regular exam room but with less medical equipment, and had me sit in a comfy chair with my legs up. I picked out my polish, my go-to burgundy color, and finally started to relax.
Christine was my nail clinician for the day. Christine is a PMAC, podiatry medical assistant certified, but recently started working in the spa because the demand for dry pedicures has become so high. Sharon, a certified medical nail technician, also schedules clients a few days a week.
After explaining what she’d be doing over the next hour or so, Christine quickly got to work. Much like a traditional pedicure, she removed my polish, trimmed my nails, cleaned up my cuticles and worked on smoothing out those stubborn dry heels, not necessarily in that order. All of the tools they use are sent to the surgery center and sterilized overnight. My tools came out of a brand new bag, which felt rather satisfying.
Not surprisingly, my favorite part of the experience was the keratin socks. The “socks”, which are plastic bags filled with a moisturizing keratin cream, go over your feet and then your feet are wrapped in hot towels. Ahhhhh, feet heaven.
After that, I got a lovely, albeit brief, foot massage; in all fairness though, a foot massage is not listed as a service on the website. I think we may have been running short on time too because, I was asking lot’s of questions (my bad).
Finally, Christine applied the polish, a clear coat and color coat, and with no heat lamp in sight, we just let them air-dry.
The Barefoot Medical Spa offers two services: The Barefoot spa medical grade pedicure for $35 which includes hot towel application, nail shaping and clipping, cuticle care, callus reduction and application of moisturizing cream on the feet and lower legs. If you want nail polish application, the cost goes up to $50. You do get to keep the anti-fungal nail polish though.
I happened to go when they were having a special so I got $5 off. They don’t accept tips so my total was $45, which was maybe just a bit more than what I would have paid at a typical nail salon, depending on where you go.
I think since it was my first time going, I was a bit nervous not knowing what to expect. Now that I’ve done it, I can see the many benefits of a dry pedicure. It really is for anyone and you don’t have to have a medical issue to appreciate it. Once I settled in and realized I really was there to relax, I enjoyed it. Would I go back? Toe-tally.