When putting your best foot forward, your local mani-pedi salon may be a step behind.
Women hoping for the perfect pedicure — and perhaps “Barbie feet” — are ditching their neighborhood nail spots and turning to an unlikely, less glamorous destination: med spas.
Rather than a simple soak, file and paint, NYC beauty buffs hoping for more than just a fresh coat of shellac are instead opting for medical-grade foot services.
Medical pedicures have typically been a specialized health service for people who suffer from serious health issues such as diabetes and arthritis. However, the foot service — which typically costs $200 — has gained the popularity of a younger crowd seeking the best pedicure of their lives.
Medi Pedi NYC in Midtown has seen a 75% uptick in younger customers — from 18 to 30 — looking for rejuvenated feet.
“A lot of people were calling us and asking for availability,” Enajeona Carrero, an employee of Medi Pedi NYC, told The Post. “We were kinda confused but realized viral TikTok videos were the reason.”
The high demand pushed the medical spa to hire two additional nail technicians and expand its facility from three to five rooms to accommodate demand.
Carrero said the viral videos have kept the med spa booked and busy with some clients having to wait nearly four weeks to be seen for an appointment.
The TikTok-loving generation discovered the foot service when influencer Cat Quinn posted a TikTok review of her medical pedicure experience at Medi Pedi NYC, saying it helped her achieve the “perfect Barbie feet.”
A “medical pedicure” addresses issues such as athlete’s foot, corns, calluses, cracked heels, nail fungus, ingrown toenails and nail discoloration. The non-invasive treatment bridges podiatry and basic nail care with a focus on assessing and treating foot issues.
Quinn’s now-viral clip with nearly 5 million views — not to mention, #medicalpedicure has over 160 million hits on TikTok — grabbed the attention of many Gen Zers, who were ready to book their appointment at a local medical pedicure spa.
Medi Pedi NYC’s CEO Marcela Correa told The Post she has applauded the uptick in younger clients since she advocates for anyone striving for healthy feet.
“It’s something that people get bullied for so they don’t want to share their feet with anybody or be seen by anybody,” the licensed medical nail technician said. “People are always laughing about other people’s foot conditions and 90% of the time the condition is not even foot related.”
More people say they’re leaning toward the foot service at med spas over nail salons because medical pedicures are more keen on the details of the feet and nails. A medical pedicure’s process involves extensive cleaning, sanding, buffing, shaping of the nails and removing dead skin.
Although the influx of new clients is great for business, it’s pushing people who rely on the service to the back of the line.
Heide Hlawaty, a client at Medi Pedi NYC, disclosed the difficulty she experienced trying to book an appointment lately as the service became popular.
“I’m so glad to have gotten an early appointment,” she quipped after struggling to get an appointment for several months.
The Long Island resident said she treks to the Manhattan office every six to eight weeks to ensure her feet are taken care of. Hlawaty said if she skips visits to the medical spa, she would endure unbearable pain, especially when walking.
Even though the spa does not take medical insurance, Hlawaty claims the service is worth the $200 charge and since she relies on the medical pedicure to avoid pain, her health savings account (HSA) will occasionally cover the fee.
“Sometimes it goes through and sometimes it doesn’t,” she laughed. “It’s just so capricious.”
While Medi Pedi NYC is merely a medical spa, it often refers clients to podiatrists when the issues need special treatment.
But for Hlawaty, the med spa is the only place that fulfills her foot needs — even compared to a podiatrist with treatments she feels are “rough on my feet.”
“They don’t fully appreciate the sensitivity of toes when undergoing a pedicure,” she said.
Earlier this year, Hlawaty experienced a blood infection that left her feet untreated for months. During the absence of Correa’s touch, her foot developed painful blisters, ingrown nails and significant calluses so intense that she could not even see her toes.
When the blood infection was resolved, she said medical technicians were able to save her feet after a few visits.
“I could have possibly lost my toes,” Hlawaty said. “Marcella and her group helped me keep my feet, they helped me keep my toes. I have come to value my feet because I took them for granted.”
Although youthful clients dominating the appointment time slots have impacted availability for patients who rely on the service, Correa applauds the younger generation’s commitment to healthy feet.
“Those [TikTok] videos really help a lot [with] educating more people that something like this exists,” Correa said. “They don’t even know that those [foot conditions] exist because they are too young to have it.”
Correa encourages more people to keep up the appearance of their feet because sometimes it could be a warning sign of a more serious health condition such as heart disease or osteoporosis.
“Foot care is the most important part of your body,” she said. “If you take care of your mouth and you don’t take care of your feet, you’re not gonna smile with those teeth because your feet hurt.”