What is a Paraffin Pedicure?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

A paraffin pedicure is a spa treatment during which paraffin wax is applied to the feet in order to moisturize the skin on the feet. The paraffin is usually applied after the feet have been washed and buffed and after the toenails have been cleaned, cut, and filed into uniform shapes. If the pedicure includes the application of nail polish, this is done after the paraffin has been applied, left to cool, and then removed.

Paraffin pedicures soften and moisturize the feet.
Paraffin pedicures soften and moisturize the feet.

Before the paraffin wax is applied to the feet, it is warmed in a small tub. As such, the wax is in a liquid state when it is applied to the feet. Each spa has a variation on the technique used during a paraffin pedicure. It is most common, however, to have the feet dipped into the tub of wax two to three times, then wrapped in a plastic bag or sheet of plastic. Some spas, however, dip a ladle full of wax into a plastic bag, then fit the foot into the bag and form the wax around the foot.

In a paraffin pedicure, wax is used to moisturize the feet.
In a paraffin pedicure, wax is used to moisturize the feet.

After the wax has been applied to the feet, it is left to cool for up to five minutes. It is common, during a paraffin pedicure, to have the wax-dipped feet wrapped in warm towels or cotton booties which fit over the plastic. This keeps the paraffin warmer for a longer period of time, improving the moisturizing benefits for the feet. It is common for the paraffin wax to be infused with essential oils or fragrances which makes the treatment even more enjoyable.

A paraffin treatment may be part of a comprehensive pedicure package at a day spa.
A paraffin treatment may be part of a comprehensive pedicure package at a day spa.

For people who have chronically dry skin on their feet, a paraffin pedicure can be a big help. Both the moisturizing properties of the paraffin and the heat help to soften and improve the skin all over the feet, especially in tough, calloused areas. A paraffin pedicure can also help people who suffer from cracked skin on their feet, which is most common in the area around the heel of the foot. As cold weather often leads to excessive dryness in the skin, it is common for spas to promote their paraffin treatments in the winter months.

A foot massage is typically included in a pedicure procedure.
A foot massage is typically included in a pedicure procedure.

A paraffin pedicure is often more expensive than a traditional pedicure. This is because the treatment takes more time and requires extra equipment and products. Some people who love paraffin treatments but don't love spending so much money at the spa opt to purchase paraffin wax and spa-quality paraffin heaters in order to enjoy the treatments at home.

Paraffin wax is usually applied after the feet have been washed.
Paraffin wax is usually applied after the feet have been washed.
A paraffin pedicure may be beneficial for individuals who have cracked skin on their feet.
A paraffin pedicure may be beneficial for individuals who have cracked skin on their feet.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments

LilDub

I am totally addicted to paraffin pedicures! There's something about the way that the wax really gets the moisturizers down into your skin that just feels fantastic. It's my monthly treat to myself -- if you haven't tried one, you definitely should.

KristiLee

I recommend doing this at home. It is much cheaper and you can customize the treatment to your personal liking. If you do it at a salon request that the pedicurist gives you the classic treatment, where they slowly pour the wax over your feet and then wrap the foot. This will ensure that the wax has time to adequately moisturize before it hardens.

Just remember to briefly dip your feet in an ice bath when the wax is about halfway hardened. I learned this from a friend who works at a top salon. It may seem unpleasant, but it's only for a second and it completely hardens the wax and pushes all the moisturizers deep into the skin. Plus, it makes the wax boot super simple to take off!

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