Does A Pedicure Include Polish?

It can be awkward to ask, especially if you spontaneously walked into a nail salon on a whim. But you’re already sitting in the pedicure chair, so how do you know if the pedicure includes polish? We’ve done a broad investigation of this subject to bring you the most up-to-date information.

The standard pedicure practiced in most salons includes a basic acrylic polish on your toenails. However, longer lasting products such as gel polish or specialty top-coats can be an additional charge. Occasionally, a salon will discount your pedicure if you choose no polish.

Your toenails are now your favorite shade of the rainbow, but you’re wondering if that fancy color is included in the price of the pedicure. Will you be paying extra at the cash register? Since different salons have different practices, read on to learn more about why a pedicure may or may not include polish!

Applying pedicure to woman's feet with white toenails, with toe separators, Does A Pedicure Include Polish?Pedicures, Polish, And All You Need To Know

Technological Advances

As new products become available, the standard practice of a polish included with a pedicure has evolved. There are new products called gel polish; they are cured with a UV light and can last up to three weeks. New advances in polymers also allow even a simple acrylic nail polish to last over a week without chipping.

Depending on where you go, these different polishes can sometimes be reflected in the pedicure cost: "How Much Does A Gel Pedicure Cost?"

Consumer Demand

Manicure master is painting on female toenails with maroon nail polish by brush wearing white gloves

As technology advances, so does consumer demand. Clients want bespoke pedicures; that is, they want the pedicure to be customized to their needs. Due to this demand, there is now a trend in salons to specify - and price - different types of pedicures that include different types of polish or other services. These salons have a menu that lists exactly what they offer and allow you to tailor your pedicure to include or exclude exactly what you want - including polish.

Industry Expectations

As consumers expect more, the industry changes to meet their needs. And simultaneously, consumers who don’t demand what they want allow the industry to offer less and less for the same - or more - money. Be clear about what you expect when you book a pedicure. If you don’t want a polish or a buff, ask for a discount! The worst they can say is no, and you can take your business somewhere that says yes. The decision of whether or not you have polish is yours alone.

Can You Get A Pedicure Without Polish?


You can absolutely get a pedicure without polish. But whether or not it will reflect your choice in your bill is something you should definitely work out ahead of time. For example, if you expect your nails to be buffed to a high shine instead of polished, keep in mind that this can be just as time consuming, so there may be no price change. So if you are receiving one service in place of another service, find out if that substitution will be more or less costly to avoid misunderstandings.

To Polish… or not to Polish?

If you want your toenails to look beautifully healthy and shiny, you can ask for your nails to be buffed instead of painted. Buffing is done with a very fine abrasive block that smooths out tiny imperfections and brings the nail to a high shine, almost shinier than clear polish! It’s a great way to avoid the problem of chipped toenail paint. And you’ll also avoid nail polish remover fumes on your next visit.

What Can I Expect From A Professional Pedicure?

Female legs with pedicure on a white towel close up, concept trend color of the year 2020 Classic Blue.

The steps of a pedicure are usually the same everywhere, but a truly professional pedicure by an experienced and attentive technician should absolutely include the following.

Initial Consultation and Welcome

  • Smiling welcome
  • Discussion of services required
  • Ensuring no medical obstacles (infections or ingrown nails present)


  • Clean and sanitized tub should be used
  • Feet should be washed and dried
  • Feet should not soak for an extended time before nails are filed

Trimming and Filing

  • Sanitized utensils should be used
  • Untreated foot should be wrapped in towel while awaiting treatment
  • Technician should request your preferred shape
  • Technician should not cause pain
  • Toenail should not be cut overly short - your toenail is there to protect your toe


  • Water should be comfortably hot and pleasantly scented
  • Technician should add hot water as needed
  • Water should never become cold

Cuticle Treatment

  • Cuticle cream should be applied and allowed to sit to soften cuticles
  • Cuticles should be gently pushed back - there should be no pain
  • Paramecium, the ultra-thin layer of cuticle, also removed with gentle pressure
  • Excess cuticle/hangnails can be trimmed - your entire cuticle should never be cut off

Callus Treatment

  • Removal of calluses via creams or lotions containing acids - OR -
  • Manual removal of calluses via footstones or scrapers

A very effective and safe way to remove calluses on feet at home is with a cheap sanding block! See it here on Amazon.

Foot and Leg Massage

  • Foot massage should be focused on areas of feet that contact the ground; undue pressure should not be focused on the arch
  • Leg massage should not irritate shin bone or achilles tendon
  • Massage cream should be pleasantly and lightly scented - or not at all

Nail Polish or Buff

Here is where the procedure can vary quite a bit. Options are usually one of  the following:

  1. Gel nail polish - additional application time, additional cost, harder to remove
  2. Standard nail polish - should include at least two coats of polish and a clear top coat
  3. Buff/shine - natural and unpainted nail is buffed to a high-gloss shine


In a low-cost salon, the technicians are generally conscious of time; they have a limited amount of space and a high customer volume due to the good value of their services. You may be asked to sit elsewhere or even pay while you wait for your toenails to dry to save time. However, an experienced and conscientious professional will plan for you to be relaxed and ready to leave before asking for you to step to the payment counter. You are the consumer; never allow yourself to be rushed, it creates a precedent for providers to offer less valuable service.

How Do Salons Do Pedicures?

Manicure master is painting on female toenails with maroon nail polish by brush wearing white gloves

There can be a huge difference in service depending on whether you go to a fancy spa or if you go to a low-cost nail salon - and spending more money doesn’t necessarily get you a better pedicure. A pedicure at a salon always includes the following procedures, usually in this order.

  • Washing the feet
  • Trimming and filing the nail
  • Soaking the feet
  • Pushing back the cuticle
  • Trimming any hangnails (loose cuticles)
  • Treatment/removal of calluses
  • Foot and leg massage (below the knee)
  • Polish or buff nails

A spa that does pedicures may have additional bells and whistles, such as sparkling waters or wine to drink, robes and slippers to wear during your pedicure, lounge areas, or other features. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that your pedicure will be any better. It’s the conscientiousness and experience of the technician that ultimately decides your experience and results.

What Type Of Pedicure Lasts The Longest?

Applying pedicure to woman's feet with white toenails, with toe separators, Does A Pedicure Include Polish?

Most pedicures last for about two weeks. This takes into account the nail growth, any callus build-up, and the polish or buff that you received. You can extend your pedicure up until four weeks if you perform a few simple steps at home.

  • Touch up chips with polish immediately, then apply a coat of clear polish.
  • Use a wet washcloth and push back your cuticles twice a week.
  • Moisturize your feet before bedtime.
  • Use cuticle nippers to remove visible hangnails.

Always invest in a pair of quality cuticle nippers to keep up nails and toes, and they will last for years. Never use cuticle nippers to cut nails as it will dull the blade. See these on Amazon.

Taking care of your pedicure in between appointments will make your pedicure last longer: How Long Does A Gel Pedicure Last? [And How Often To Get One!]

Are Pedicures Good For Your Feet?

Top view close up visitor legs having preparing for pedicure. They locating on cushion. Cosmetic procedure concept

Pedicures are excellent for your feet. First of all, they remove dead skin and calluses that can become hardened and split, causing possible infection. Second, massage improves circulation in your feet and legs, moving stored toxins out of your glands and into the bloodstream where they can be excreted. Lastly, they feel good! When you feel good, your stress is reduced, and your body can heal itself from the constant demands of the modern lifestyle.

In Closing

There are many considerations when it comes to pedicures and polish. Different procedures and services may be more or less costly. Remember that consumers drive the industry, so always be clear about what you expect from a pedicure. Look for an experienced and attentive professional to get the best service and benefits.

Pedicures can help keep your feet in good condition and help lower your stress level too! Don’t forget to try a beautiful buff and shine the next time you have one, you’ll be glad you did!

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