Nail Treatments for Men

A typical male’s grooming routine is a lesson in the art of simplicity—a daily shave, a quick comb and a regular haircut. There’s certainly something to be said for that. Broadening your regimen to include regular manicures and pedicures, though, is worth consideration.

Well-cared-for hands and feet don’t just look good. They are also less likely to develop hangnails, ingrown nails and painful calluses—problems that can occur in anyone, but often affect men, especially those who engage in high-intensity exercise, work with their hands, wear ill-fitting shoes, or bite or rarely tend to their nails.

Before we move on, though, let’s address the elephant in the room: Many men (maybe even you) simply don’t find the thought of walking into a nail salon appealing. They look through the window and see what they think of as “women only” signs everywhere—from the customers in the chairs to the magazines in the waiting area. We get it.

But walking through that door is a step toward a better appearance and improved health—benefits that have no gender bias. Many salons are now even offering nail treatments geared toward attracting male patrons, like a “sports pedicure.”

If you’re hesitant, or just haven’t given much thought to nail maintenance, consider these mani/pedi benefits:

  • Nail care professionals can easily trim hard-to-reach toenails and cut them in a way to help prevent ingrowns (straight across, not rounded at the edges).
  • Troublesome calluses can often be filed away, making a walk or run more comfortable.
  • You can be confident in your handshakes when any jagged edges on your fingernails are eliminated.
  • A warm foot soak followed by a massage (traditional perks of a pedicure) can soothe sore feet and increase circulation, essential to keeping foot aches and pains at bay.

We understand—it might take an appointment or two to fully convince you. But if you’re willing to give it a chance, here’s what you need to know when booking a nail treatment for the first time:

What to Expect
First things first—pick a nail salon or spa that appeals to you. Many spas have private nail care areas away from other guests, if you’d prefer some privacy; other places geared toward men have amenities like big leather chairs, flat-screen TVs and masculine décor. You want to be able to relax during your treatments, which can last anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes each.

Once inside, if you’ve opted for a pedicure, you’ll likely be led to a comfy chair where you’ll enjoy a warm foot soak. This is an essential step, as it softens the skin on your feet and readies them for the remainder of the treatment. While every salon is different and treatments vary, you can expect your feet to be exfoliated with a scrub, pumice stone or foot file—sometimes all of the above. Your cuticles will be pushed back and your nails will be cut and filed.

Many establishments offer a foot and lower leg massage as part of a basic pedicure.  Before the rubdown, the technician may ask you about how much pressure you’d like during the massage and may even ask if you prefer a scented or unscented lotion to be applied. Often the massage is followed by a hot towel wrap before revealing clean, smooth and moisturized feet.

Manicures follow a similar procedure. You’ll soak your fingertips and/or hands, which will be exfoliated and then massaged with moisturizer. Cuticles will be pushed back and nails (and any hangnails) will be clipped and filed smoothed.

Personalize It
Most nail technicians are used to fielding special requests, so speak up if you’d like to skip a certain step. For instance, if you are very ticklish, you may want to forgo exfoliation, or perhaps you’d prefer to just have your lower legs massaged and not your feet.

You may also be asked if you’d like any add-on services (usually at an additional price). Before you say no, find out the details—some services are worth a splurge if they address your needs specifically. For example, a reflexology foot massage can relieve tension not only in your feet but throughout your body. A warm paraffin wax foot wrap is a common add-on and great for dry, cracked soles.

A salon’s full array of polishes are, of course, available to you. If you don’t want a color or even a clear coat, you can get your nails buffed for a healthy-looking shine.

Keep It Safe
While getting a nail treatment is a relaxing experience, you do want to make sure the salon follows a few simple safety guidelines. When booking an initial appointment, ask how nail tools are sterilized to banish bacteria—some salons use tools only once while others rely on a sterilization system; make your decision based on the method that makes you feel most comfortable.

You may also want to inquire about the type of container used to soak feet. Harmful fungus and bacteria can reside in the pipes of washtubs, so ask if they are both cleaned and filtered between each guest. A simple water basin with no plumbing (and no pipes to filter) is a better choice.

Finally, it’s best to decline the scraping off of dead skin or calluses with a foot razor because you can get an infection if too much skin is removed (this is not the case with filing calluses, however).

Also, you may want to skip getting your cuticles cut (a common next step after pushing them back), as they serve as a barrier against bacteria, keeping your nails strong and healthy.

More: Avoiding Nail Salon Hazards

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