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6 Weeks of Self-Care — Week 3: MANI-PEDI

This is the third post in our “6 Weeks of Self-Care” series — written by guest author Amber Daley, who is blogging about her experiences at Amethyst Salon and Opal Blow Dry Bar in the weeks ahead. Enjoy!

For most of my childhood and teen years, I bit my nails. (One study found that 45 percent — nearly half! — of all teenagers do it.) For me, this nasty habit more or less waned over the years, as it does for many adults. But it’s still an incredibly difficult one to break — until recently, when a little self-care (via mani-pedi) at Amethyst Salon made me realize I may finally be done for good.

Kicking a Bad Habit — By Starting a New One

According to both WebMD and the American Academy of Dermatology, splurging on regular manicures helps discourage people from biting their nails. And it makes sense — spending money (and my most precious commodity, time) at the salon is a pretty good reason to want to keep one's nails looking presentable.

So, on the day of my birthday earlier this June, I again went to see Kristin — this time, for a manicure and pedicure. My nails were long(ish), strong, and healthy enough, so my main intent wasn’t necessarily to kick a habit. However, as with my first two weeks at Amethyst Salon and Opal Blow Dry Bar, I’ve been noticing that this regular regimen of self-care is paying off in ways I never expected.

The Mani

It’d been 16 years since I treated myself to a professional manicure. Much like other aspects of my self-care, I had more or less been caring for the health of my nails and cuticles myself (which meant rarely, if at all). But I was attending a conference on the east coast in a few days and wanted my hands to look their best. (Plus, when the man I’d been seeing proudly announced he regularly visits a salon for this service, I knew it was time to step up my game.)

For this treatment, we opted for a gel manicure ($45). I had acrylics once as a teenager and they were both annoying for everyday use and damaged my nail beds. So I was again skeptical. But Kristin assured me the process was much gentler. Gel nail polish provides a protective coating, especially for women with weak or damaged nails. It also dries quickly, is chip-resistant, and stays on longer (up to two weeks). As long as polish is removed properly, the gel manicure is generally safe for nails. There was a myriad of colors to choose from, and I went with a deep, sparkly pink (it was my birthday, after all).

But first came the hand massage and pushing back of the cuticles. Mine weren’t in terrible shape, but the treatment was, by far, the most time anyone had spent caring for my hands in a very long time. By the time my manicure was complete, I had decided it would become a new, much healthier habit.

The Pedi

In reflexology, the feet are believed to correspond with many other parts of the body. (Each foot has about 7,000 nerve endings called “reflexes” that are said to be connected to other organs and systems.) So there may be more to the pleasure of a foot rub than just the immediate enjoyment. After all, we hold a lot of stress in our feet — something Kristin is able to sense when she gives a client a pedicure. 

To help relieve this stress, I opted for a classic pedicure ($45), which involved a custom soak (mine was lavender to help with calming), a scrub, a luxurious foot massage, and a standard polish. (If you’re looking for an even more luxurious experience, the spa pedi is $55 and includes an extra 15 minutes, a longer massage, and a paraffin dip for deeper conditioning and moisturizing.)

Not only did it feel great to have my feet cared for, I was impressed by the time and attention that went into the process. I wasn’t just in and out, or lined up with other women on pedicure thrones. Kristin took the time to talk and connect with me, explaining that she wants the experience for each of her clients to be safe and healing. She believes there’s something special — even spiritual — about washing someone’s feet, too. And the space — affectionately known as “the penthouse” — is on the second floor of Amethyst Salon, which makes it a sanctuary when the salon below is bustling.

When the pedicure was complete, my head was clear and my stress had all but vanished. And just like that, I’d started another new habit.

The Results

Post-mani/pedi, my hands and feet looked GORGEOUS (and summer-ready). A couple of the gels started lifting from a my nails after about a week and a half, but according to Kristin, this is normal. (They should typically stay put for two weeks, but given my rigorous travel schedule, the timing was about right.) 

Although the gels are long gone, getting a manicure impacted how I view my hands — not just as merely functional, but as beautiful, too. From the moment I left Amethyst Salon, I couldn’t stop staring at them. And even though the gel polish is long gone, I’m realizing I love the shape and the look of my natural nails. Shorter nails have never been conducive to my career as a writer (they only slow me down when at my computer keyboard) and my hobbies (playing the piano and guitar). But now that my nails are longer and prettier than they’ve ever been, I want to keep them this way. I’m committed to caring for them in ways I’ve never before considered — starting with kicking the nail-biting habit once and for all.

Keeping Those Nails on Fleek

I never really thought a manicure made much sense for me, let alone a pedicure. But as Kristin has helped me to realize, these treatments aren’t only about aesthetics or pampering. They ensure the cleanliness and health of the cuticles and nail plates — which is beneficial to your entire hands and feet. 

For instance, moisturizing and pushing back your cuticles is important for keeping them clean, undamaged, and healthy. You can certainly do some of these things at home, but it’s much easier to see an aesthetician for overall maintenance. 

Kristin recommends getting a manicure every two to four weeks (on the more frequent side if gel polish needs to be removed and reapplied). Pedicures are good to get every four to six weeks, according to Kristin, and more often if you have gel polish that needs to be reapplied.

If you’re anything like me, even the occasional splurge is long overdue — and probably much deserved.