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Getting a Pedicure? Here are 7 Dos and Don'ts for Dancers

Dancers' feet take a beating. So it's natural to want to pamper them once in a while (and maybe make them look a little less...rugged) by getting a pedicure.

But stepping into a salon comes with a few more complications when your feet take daily abuse in the dance studio. We asked New Jersey–based podiatrist Dr. Terri Ronna what dancers need to know before having their tootsies treated professionally.


1. Don't get a pedicure if...

  • you have any openings on the skin, like a split or a blister.
  • you're currently at risk for an ingrown toenail.
  • you recently damaged a toenail and it's bruised or thickened.
(If you just want to lighten up a discolored nail, Ronna recommends lemon essential oil—either put 15 drops into warm water and soak your toes, or mix it with olive oil and rub it right onto your nail. "It works really well, and it's moisturizing," says Ronna.)

2. Do check the license.

Make sure that both the salon and the technician working on you are licensed. "This means they're trained in how to sterilize their instruments," explains Ronna. If the tools are not properly cleaned, they could pass along a fungal infection.

3. Don't let the technician cut your cuticles.

The American Academy of Dermatology and the Mayo Clinic have both recently put out statements that the cuticle should not be cut. "It's just dead skin, but it's there for a purpose," explains Ronna. "The nail bed is where the nail cells reproduce, and the cuticles protect that."

It's safe to have your cuticles gently pushed back, but cutting leaves them open to infection.

4. Do be choosy about your polish and remover.

Ronna recommends only using non-acetone nail polish remover, since acetone can strip some of the top layer of your nail.

She also suggests choosing polishes with fewer chemicals, and ones that contain something like tea tree oil, which is naturally antifungal and antibacterial. Two brands in particular that she tells her clients to look into: daniPro and Dr.'s REMEDY. You can buy them online to bring with you to the salon in case it doesn't carry them.

5. Do clarify how you want your nails cut.

Ronna suggests dancers only have their nails cut to the skin's edge and no shorter. Also, the corners shouldn't be cut on an angle, or else the nail will repeat that pattern and you could become prone to ingrown toenails.

6. Don't try a DIY fix for your corns.

Corns should only be taken care of by a doctor. Don't try to fix them yourself, or with a pedicure. "Because of the amount of keratin that forms, the corn is very hard and it takes somebody who's skilled at using the right instrument to get that off and then to protect that skin with a layer of moleskin or silicone to reduce the chances of it coming back," says Ronna.

7. Do be kind to your calluses.

Like cuticles, your calluses are there to protect your feet. "They formed because of friction and pressure over time on the skin," says Ronna. "Taking down the calluses can lead to a skin infection or blisters." She suggests not having your calluses touched during a pedicure—since dancers already know their feet so intimately, they're probably the best at doing any necessary callus management themselves.

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