With sandals weather fast approaching and our social calendars finally filling up, there’s never been a better time to give your feet a thorough reboot with a medical pedicure.
Didn't know you needed one? Nor did we until we had one. Think of it as the "hygienist for the feet," so says cult 'medi pedi' specialist Margaret Dabbs – and that's pretty accurate.
No corn or callous is too gruesome for these pros, who will buff and file away all of your podiatry nightmares, leaving your trotters as soft as a baby's bottom.
Margaret Dabbs London, Westbourne Grove
Type in 'medi pedi' into Google and you'll quickly see that Margaret Dabbs is considered queen of the treatment by those in the know. There are four clinics in the capital, I headed to the Notting Hill outpost which sits off Space NK.
Margaret Dabbs podiatrists are required to follow a strict protocol when it comes to performing the famous treatment, which is always delivered in 45 minutes, though naturally each treatment will differ according to a client's needs. While I sat on a giant throne of a chair, principal podiatrist Thomas first used a tool to clean underneath the nail – unlike pedicures I'm used to, this was performed dry to prevent the spread of infection, he explains. He cuts and files my nails and trims any excess cuticle (but does not remove it entirely), all the while taking care not to touch any of soft tissue around the nail.
Next, he tackles the dry skin under my foot with a file and burr, this is also when the scalpel comes into action if needs be, to remove any stubborn callouses or corns. My feet got a slathering of the brand's famous foot oil, serums and creams and a good buffing of the toes so that I could practically see my face in them.
Pedicurist Anna then finished off the treatment with two coats of Margaret Dabbs' Larkspur pink varnish while I sipped on a glass of sparkling water and classical music played out in the background.
This wasn't your typical pedi, more clinical than I'd expected but my feet are in the best shape they have been for decades.
45 minutes, £130 with a principal podiatrist (£85 with podiatrist)
Tucked down a quiet street in Chelsea, you’ll find an unassuming beauty haven. Footopia, first opened in Peter Jones in 2003 before opening its flagship store on Chelsea Manor Street in 2013, was one of the first London salons to specialise in the medi pedi – so you know it’s going to be good. Their signature treatment starts with a session with resident podiatrist and director Dipesh Raja (the clinic’s co-founder along with Robyn Opie), who will sort out all your feet problems while enlightening you about proper foot care. Dipesh is the reason Footopia has so many loyal clients, his friendly demeanour has made him a favourite for local, international and even celebrity clientele.
After the podiatry session, you’re moved swiftly to the pedicure station next door, where Gita (Dipesh’s wife) will work on the aesthetic side of things, using the clinic's own brand of creams and oils. Rounding up the dream team is resident technician Kelly who can give you a manicure (from £20) while Gita looks after your feet. While the salon is more low-key than luxe, the result is what draws people in – smooth and healthy feet that look as good as they feel.
90 minutes, £110
Beauchamp has been sorting out the hard and calloused feet of Londoners for 27 years. The vibe is medical rather than ‘grammable, though the clinic will be having a complete makeover in the New Year. The standard 60-minute medical pedicure kicks off with a footbath, followed by cutting, filing and cleaning underneath the nails. Hard skin is then removed with a scalpel and any corns or callouses lobbed off. Feet are buffed, scrubbed and massaged before being finished off with a lick of paint with either ESSIE or chemical-free Zoya nail varnishes.
Four weeks later and my feet are still silky soft and my pedi is perfect. Beauchamp is making efforts to be sustainable and where possible they use things like biodegradable aprons and cotton buds. Other treatments including verruca removal, nail fungus laser treatment and reflexology are available.
They're a friendly team who really know their stuff - I think I've found my new regular.
60 minutes, £112
Richard Ward, Chelsea
The Richard Ward hair and beauty salon is a super slick, 5000sq ft hive of activity located near the Saatchi gallery on Chelsea’s Duke of York Square. In addition to the notoriously good cuts and blow-dries (Kate Middleton’s a big fan), there’s also a discrete and calm ‘metrospa’ tucked away on the first floor that offers an extensive menu of over 250 beauty treatments.
Medical pedicures are on offer courtesy of the salon’s supremely talented senior nail technician Vita Hohfelde. Once I had been served a gin and tonic from the salon’s fully licensed bar, Via set about assessing my feet to ensure I had enough callouses, dry skin and corns for a medical pedicure – I did, but she won’t get out the scalpel willy nilly. After soaking my feet Vita cut, filed and cleaned underneath my nails before removing all corns and callouses with a scalpel (much less scary than it sounds). Once my feet were baby soft, she massaged them with Footlogix creams before applying the most perfect gel pedicure.
If you’re looking for feet that feel as good as they look, Vita is most definitely worth a visit. Get booking quickly though - she’s got a loyal clientele and, as the only therapist at Richard Ward who does the medi pedi, a correspondingly lengthy waiting list.
75 minutes, £95, which includes normal polish (plus £15 for gel)