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Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Fish Pedicure

I was horrified the first time I heard about the new craze that sounded more like some sort of weird fetish than a form of foot therapy! The thought of having hundreds of little fish nibbling at your feet is a little gross to say the least. I have to admit Salonaddict set me quite a challenge when they asked that I have this ‘beauty’ treatment done!

I was by no means excited at the thoughts of getting my feet nibbled at from 100 hungry little fish but I was certainly curious. I imagine on the way to the fish spa all the little fish, known as *Garra Rufa, gleefully swimming around in the tank rubbing their downy fins together in gleeful anticipation of what is now considered lunchtime at the garra rufa fish zoo. Euwww!

On arriving at the fish spa I immediately bombard the therapist with lots of questions while my feet are still safely secured behind socks and laced-up shoes. Do they bite? How does it work? Will they stop if I suddenly want to lift my feet from the water or will they cling in angry retaliation?  I am assured by the lovely therapist that they do not have teeth and they clean your feet by gently hoovering your feet of its dead skin cells in small crumb-sized bites. Mmmm!

The therapist then talks me through the careful sanitation procedure in keeping the water clean by a round-the clock sterilising system reassuring me further that everything is above board.
It takes a few anxious moments before I finally thrust my feet into the tank of fish. If I don’t look into the tank it actually feels quite nice. I begin to feel the first tingle followed simultaneously by one hundred more. When I do look down and realise what’s really happening I feel nauseated.
After a couple more glances I am comfortable enough to look into the tank to see how my feet-loving friends are doing. I see fish circling like miniature hungry sharks deciding which part of my foot looks the most appetising. I can’t help but curl and squeeze my toes inwards in defence of these skin-eating creatures trying to rob the skin off my feet! 

It takes a few minutes to unwind and concentrate on the experience of how this bizarre form of foot therapy actually feels. Once relaxed, I become fascinated as I watch the fish nibble away at my ankles, toes and surface of my feet. There is certainly no denying these little guys have a genuine appetite for dead skin! 

After 25 minutes of my feet in the tank I feel I’ve had enough and I’m hoping the fish have too. I say a quick prayer there are no clingers-on before I release my feet from the water into the safe hands of the therapist who gently rubs and massages my feet marking the end of the strange ritual. I almost expect the fish to applaud graciously for their meal however instead they slow their pace in annoyance while others plop lethargically to the bottom of the tank, tired no doubt from a hard day of pedicuring.

I touch my feet and notice how baby soft they feel on the surface. There is definitely a noticeable difference in the texture. I thank the therapist and she asks me how my feet feel. I tell her my feet feel like new. She advises I get the all over body pedicure done if I ever visit Japan. I look at her with a pair of raised eyebrows and she laughs and goes on to tell me that in Japan they go for the whole body fish spa. Hopefully that craze never reaches our little isle!

All in all, a good experience for both my nerves and my feet. Undoubtedly the strangest therapy I have ever undergone in the name of beauty but I’m thankful for the experience.

* Garra Rufa, also known as Doctor Fish or the Surgeon fish amongst other names, have been used to treat psoriasis, eczema and other skin disorders for years in their homelands of Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq. 

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