History of Pedicures

Many people love getting a pedicure at the spa or salon. It’s relaxing, refreshing and leaves or feet and toenails looking great. But, have you ever wondered where or how the tradition was started? In fact, it is quite old. Most historians date the first practices of ancient pedicures back to about 4,000 years ago in ancient Egypt. Here we will explore some of the history of ancient pedicures in various civilizations around the world.


Egyptians lived in a culture where they believed that taking care of their feet was essential to overall health. The first pedicures done in ancient Egypt were typically completed by first having the “pedicurist” wash their clients feet well and then soaking the feet in oils and milk as a way to soften hard skin. At this point, however, the pedicures in ancient Egypt most likely lacked the finishing touch of toenail polish.


While ancient Egyptian pedicures were focused on the cleanliness of their feet as a way to promote overall health, ancient pedicures in China, which date back to about 3,000 BC, were more focused on the massage portion of the treatment as well as nail polish. The servants of kings and noble families would give their versions of pedicures to their superiors. Men and women both received pedicures and, after the massage portion, toenails were painted black or red because, at this time, these two colors of nail polish were used as a signal to demonstrate a person’s position in the upper class.


The Romans also had their versions of pedicures which were generally performed by the slaves and servants of kings. In ancient Rome, pedicures were used mostly to pamper and beautify feet but, the pedicure process itself was a form of social entertainment. In Rome, pedicures were performed in groups while the noblemen talked, ate and socialized.


Pedicures transformed into what we all know today around the world in the early 20th century. Around this time, modern-style salons and spas began to offer the service as a way to relax which generally includes massaging the feet, washing the feet, cutting the nails, filing the nails, buffing the cuticles, painting the nails and applying a moisturizer of skin softener to the feet. Modern customers find the process relaxing and enjoy the beautification of their feet. Additionally most modern spas use pedicure chairs which include massage rollers in the seat portion as well as spa jets in the water basin to make the experience more enjoyable for the client.


While it is impossible to exactly predict the future of anything, including pedicures, one can derive the general direction of where pedicures are probably going by observing the trends occurring in other areas of the beauty industry. This includes things like more natural and organic products as well as more personalization and service customization. This could include things like unique and custom nail polish colors generated by a color mixer that the nail technician is using and softening creams developed specifically for the client’s skin type; or maybe specifically for the individual client.


While millions of people around the world enjoy pedicures every day, few probably understand the history and where pedicures are headed in the future, but now you do! It’s an interesting topic to talk about with other patrons of your favorite nail salon or even with your nail technician.