Manicure and Pedicure Products

Manicure and Pedicure Products are designed to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize hands and feet. They may contain a large variety of ingredients. Many products have multiple functions and may fall into more than one category. The major categories are as follows: Soaks are designed to cleanse and soften skin nails in preparation for the rest of the manicure or pedicure service. Soaks may be sold as liquid concentrates or as crystals, both of which are added to water to make the soak solution. In either case, some sort of surfactant (= soap) is usually present to clean the skin. Some products also contain minerals, honey, and a variety of herbal extracts and oils to condition the skin. As with any product skin is exposed to, if you experience any redness or other skin irritation, rinse the affected area thoroughly with warm running water and discontinue any future use of the product that caused the irritation. Exfoliating products are designed to remove dead skin cells for smoother feeling skin and are typically water based emulsions, with alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and/or beta-hydroxy acids, and a low pH to break down the dead skin cells and soften calluses. Pedicure exfoliants tend to be a bit stronger as feet tend to have thicker, tougher calluses. Some pedicure exfoliants use a high pH (alkaline) rather than low pH (acidic) to achieve exfoliation; either will work to soften calluses. Sunscreen should always be used on areas of the body that are exposed to sun within a week of an exfoliation service. Scrubs achieve the same exfoliation goal with mechanical abrasives such as sugar crystals, salt, pumice, polymer beads, or finely ground nutshells. Sugar and salt crystals are broken down by water and some alcohols, so these products are often oil-based, with added surfactants to enable the oil to wash off on contact with water. Due to the tougher skin on the feet, pedicure products are often formulated with coarser grit than comparable manicure products. As with exfoliating products, sunscreen should always be used on areas of the body that are exposed to sun within a week of an exfoliation service. Masks are designed to moisturize and soothe skin. They are typically composed of clays or other minerals (“mud”), infused with moisturizing ingredients, essential oils, menthol, and/or herbal extracts. Self heating masks are water-free with butylene glycol or other ingredients that cause warming on application. Moisturizing lotions and creams are designed to moisturize, condition and address a variety of cosmetic conditions of the skin. They are commonly water-based emulsions whose major ingredients, besides water, are typically oils (vegetable or mineral), waxy alcohols (cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, etc.), and esters (isopropyl palmitate, glyceryl stearate, etc.). Humectants such as propylene glycol or glycerin are often included, along with antioxidant vitamins or other product enhancing ingredients. Massage lotions are similar, but have enhanced “slip” properties due to a careful choice of silicones, oils, or esters to increase lubrication. Some specialized manicure lotions contain skin lightening or sun protection (SPF) ingredients.

Common Ingredients