Why You Shouldn't Shave Your Legs Before Getting A Pedicure

by Sa'iyda Shabazz
Originally Published: 
Dragan Grkic / Getty Images

Ladies, it’s getting warm, and you know what that means, pedicure season is upon us. Well, of course, unless you live somewhere where it’s always warm like I do. Then every season is pedi season, and you can usually find a place that isn’t very expensive and pop in on your lunch break or before an evening out, if you’re wearing open-toed shoes. Or if you’re like me, you wear flip flops all the time. But here is something we likely never considered, experts say you shouldn’t shave your legs immediately before going to get a pedi.

I know what you’re thinking, because we are all guilty of doing that quick shave before we head out, but listen to this.

So, here’s the thing. Those of us who shave our legs tend to think that other people may be grossed out by our leg hair, especially as it’s growing out. Or we may be grossed out by our leg hair, especially when it’s in that weird stubbly phase. So then, we figure, let’s do a quick shave of the ol’ legs before we get our tooties done. This is especially true for those of us who don’t have a regular nail tech who is used to looking at our feet in any state. But, really, it’s not a good idea. You know why? Bacteria, that’s why. Going to the nail salon for a pedicure with freshly shaven legs can lead to a bacterial infection, which could lead to a whole host of problems.

You must be wondering how such a thing could happen, right? Well, when you shave your legs, you’re not only opening the pores on your legs, you could be creating tiny nicks on your skin that you don’t even notice. Those open wounds on your legs make it a lot easier for bacteria to get into your skin.

“A basin may look perfectly clean, but it may harbor bacteria, fungi, and viruses,” says Dr. Lauren Ploch, a dermatologist based in Georgia, who is also an American Academy of Dermatology Fellow in an interview on the subject with In Style. According to Dr. Ploch, most infections you could get in such a situation would be minor if caught early, but could turn into something more serious, like a bacterial infection caused by staphylococcus aureus, which could get into your bloodstream, if not treated with antibiotics.

She’s right, there is no way to truly know how clean a basin is when you put your feet in it. Obviously you’d notice a ring around it, but so often we’ll see them wiping it down after a pedicure. Here’s the thing though, using a dry towel to wipe out the basin isn’t doing anything but making it dry. This is something else to consider, if you’re getting a pedicure, do not let them turn on the jets after you put your feet in the tub. “The jets in the whirlpool bath can harbor bacteria and fungus,” New York based podiatrist Dr. Jackie Sutera told Huffington Post. A fungal infection from a pedicure tub can lead to things like athlete’s foot or even warts. She recommends going to a salon that has pipeless foot baths if you can.

Dr. Sutera also warns to inquire about the sanitation of the tub between clients. Sure, those whirlpool jets feel amazing on your aching feet, but athlete’s foot is not fun. You need a creme to fix it, and it’s itchy as hell. And no one wants to see warts peeping outta your peep toe pumps. Hard pass.

Dr. Eve Toombs, a Washington, DC-based dermatologist warns to make sure you dry the spaces in between your toes once they’re out of the water. “The moisture in those areas is where organisms like fungi and bacteria tend to grow,” she told the Huffington Post. Seriously, my mom had athlete’s foot once, and well, it was kinda gross. You don’t want it.

Just like you shouldn’t shave your legs before going to get a pedicure, if you have any sort of foot-related infections or open wounds, skip the nail salon. Also, make sure that all of the metal tools have been properly sterilized, either in a liquid solution or in an autoclave. According to Dr. Sutera, those UV light microwaves just don’t really sterilize properly. And make sure they’re using a fresh nail file, wooden sticks and pumice stone, as those things can’t be sterilized.

Unsure? Just bring your own to be safe.

So, what did we learn from all this? Just wait to shave your legs until after you get your pedicure. Nail technicians have seen (literally) everything, and a little leg stubble is not going to phase them. Pedicures are seriously a cure-all, and I’m sure you’re not the first woman to go into the salon with hairy legs. When I went in for my pre-delivery pedicure, I probably looked like a sasquatch because I couldn’t get around my belly enough to reach my calves to shave. A good pedicure lasts a couple weeks (even though some of them seem to last a million years, right?) so if you need it for something specific, you can spread out the pedi and shaving your legs. And if you can’t wait? Well, you better pray you have a steady hand and do that shit at home. Skip the infections.

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