All About Waterless Pedicures

What do you mean you don’t use spa thrones? That’s madness!

Actually, soaking your nails in water is pretty terrible for them. About a decade ago, most manicurists eliminated a water soak from their manicures (once we realized that saturated nail plates cause polish to chip and peel off). Now, we’re realizing more about the disadvantages of using water in our pedicure services too.

Aside from being loud, large, wasteful, time-consuming to properly clean, and highly prone to mechanical failure, spa pedicure “thrones” are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria (particularly the “piped” variety). Unfortunately, too few clients understand the risks they’re taking when they place their feet into those swirling waters.
Tina Alberino, Beauty Industry Educator

To properly clean a whirpool pedicure throne, the EPA requires that the basin be drained, rinsed with clean water, sprayed with disinfectant, and wiped with a clean towel. Next, the internal components of the tub must be removed and scrubbed clean, rinsed, and sprayed as well. The tub must then be filled completely with hot water and an EPA-registered disinfectant, and left to circulate for the full contact time stated in the disinfectant’s directions. Once the cycle is over, the water needs to be drained, and the tub’s surfaces need to be sprayed and wiped a second time before the system is reassembled.When we inform our guests about proper disinfection protocol for these pedicure thrones, they’re often horrified to find that they’ve never once witnessed any of their previous nail technicians follow the procedure.

Even if this procedure is followed to the letter, there’s no guarantee the basin is actually clean. Liquid disinfectant presents several potential points of failure.

  • The product must be mixed precisely–too much or too little could render it entirely ineffective.
  • The disinfectant could also be rendered ineffective if the basin is too contaminated, or if the disinfectant is too old, or hasn’t been stored properly.
  • If the technician fails to leave the surfaces and components immersed in the disinfectant for the full time required by the chemical’s manufacturer, it will not work.

Even when the procedure effectively cleans the basin, it’s all too easy for it to become contaminated immediately afterward.

While that basin is sitting empty in the salon, nail filings, clippings, and dust containing bacteria and fungal spores find their way onto all surrounding surfaces–including the foot basins, causing contamination.Florida’s State Board of Cosmetology requires that all beauty implements must be stored in clean, sealed containers between services to eliminate the risk of contamination. We believe that foot spas pose too great a risk to public health and should not be used–but if they’re going to be used, they should certainly be held to the same standard as our implements, and should be required to remain covered between uses.

It’s no surprise that MRSA outbreaks, resulting from unhygienic salon practices, are on the rise.

In October 2000, officials from the Centers for Disease Control swabbed 30 footbaths in 18 nail salons in California and found mycobacterium in 29 of them.

Salon patrons have had to undergo surgeries and amputations after contracting an infection from a pedicure, and several people have even died.

We find this outrageous and unacceptable.

Eliminating spa pedicure thrones, for us, was the common sense decision, and one that benefits our clients (and the environment!) in many ways.

Waterless services guarantee a better service outcome. 

Polish lasts longer, and doesn’t chip as easily. Soaking the skin and nails in water causes them to swell and expand. When polish is applied to a saturated nail, it doesn’t adhere well. When the nail contracts later, the polish will chip off.

Nails won’t shred, peel, or flake. In addition to swelling when saturated, the nail plate softens considerably, causing it to shred during filing. This makes it more prone to serious peeling or puncture during the service, and flaking of the upper layers afterward.

Cuticles won’t “plump.” As with nails, skin absorbs water also, plumping up your cuticles. This makes it difficult for a technician to distinguish living tissue from dead tissue, and may cause them to accidentally trim living tissue, causing dry, ragged cuticles later. Additionally, once the skin bordering your nails fully dries, it peels back slightly, leaving a gap that looks like regrowth (a huge bummer if you’ve just had polish applied).

You’ll enjoy a longer massage. That’s right. Our waterless services include a a much longer massage–unless you’d rather spend those ten minutes sitting there with your feet in a basin. No? We don’t blame you.

Water won’t be wasted. By eliminating water, we’re saving 18-20 gallons per pedicure! This water, once used and combined with disinfectant, would become unusable.