A close-up shot of a beautifully painted toenail, capturing the vibrant color and glossy finish, providing a clear answer to the question, "Does a pedicure include nail polish?"

Does A Pedicure Include Nail Polish?

If you’re wondering whether getting a pedicure means you’ll walk out with perfectly painted nails, you’re not alone. Many people book pedicures expecting lacquered toes, only to find the polish costs extra. So what exactly is included in a basic pedicure service? Let’s break it down.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Most standard pedicures do not include nail polish. The service focuses on cleaning, shaping, and buffing the nails and removing dead skin from the feet. You’ll likely need to pay extra if you want colored polish.

What’s Included in a Basic Pedicure

Foot Soak

The first step in a basic pedicure is usually a relaxing foot soak. Your feet will be placed in a basin or tub filled with warm water, sometimes with essential oils or exfoliating ingredients added. This helps soften skin and calluses to prepare for the next steps. The foot soak also helps you unwind!

A warm foot bath is an amazing way to start any spa pedicure. Some salons play soft music during the soak to enhance relaxation.

Removing Dead Skin and Calluses

After soaking comes exfoliation. Your pedicurist will use tools like a foot file or scrub to gently buff away dry, dead skin. This helps reveal the healthy, smooth skin underneath. Calluses on areas like the heels and balls of the feet are also reduced. Exfoliation makes your feet look and feel softer!

Some pedicures even use more intensive callus removers like creams or acids. Proper exfoliation is key to keeping feet in sandal-ready condition.

Cutting and Shaping Nails

Now it’s time to trim and shape your toenails. Your nail technician will clip each nail to your preferred length and shape using nail clippers and files. Squared off or rounded tips are common pedicure styles. Cuticles are also pushed back and trimmed if needed.

Proper nail length and shaping helps prevent ingrown toenails and other problems. This step leaves your feet looking neat and well-groomed.

Applying Moisturizer

After the exfoliation and nail work, most pedicures apply a foot and leg massage with moisturizer or lotion. A hydrating cream is often massaged over your feet and lower legs to leave skin smooth and soft. This foot massage can relieve aches and increase circulation.

Applying moisturizer regularly keeps skin from becoming dry and cracked between pedicures. Plus, the massage feels amazing!

What is Not Typically Included

Nail Polish Application

The application of nail polish is not usually included in a basic pedicure service. Salons consider this an add-on service that costs extra. Here’s why:

  • Applying nail polish is time-consuming. A pedicure technician may spend an additional 15-20 minutes painting nails. This takes time away from other clients.
  • The supplies for nail polish application, like cotton balls, nail polish remover, base and top coat aren’t factored into the standard pedicure price.
  • There’s skill involved in perfectly painting nails. Not all techs may feel comfortable offering polish as part of a standard service.

Of course, getting a polish change on your toes can instantly make them look more glamorous. Some salons charge an additional $5-10 for nail lacquering with a basic pedicure. It’s best to call ahead to see if this is included or if you’ll need to pay extra.

Paraffin Wax Treatments

Paraffin wax treatments are almost always an add-on service not included with regular pedicures. Here’s a look at why this relaxing and rejuvenating experience costs more:

  • Salons use medical-grade wax and specialized equipment like thermal mitts and booties. These supplies tend to be pricier for salons to purchase.
  • Wax treatments take extra time, often 30 minutes or more. The feet must be prepped, submerged in wax, wrapped up to set, and then cleaned off afterwards.
  • There’s an art to perfect paraffin wax treatments. Techs are trained on proper temperature settings and application techniques.

While not always included, paraffin wax treatments are popular upgrades for pedicures. The ultra-hydrating wax leaves feet ridiculously soft. Salons typically charge $15-25 extra for this soothing, skin-renewing service.

Extra Massage Time

Don’t expect a super lengthy foot massage as part of a basic pedicure. Salons usually include just 5-10 minutes of massage, focused on the lower legs and feet. Extra massage time generally falls outside what’s included. Reasons for this include:

  • Pedicure slots are usually booked for a set amount of time (50 mins, 60 mins, etc). The service needs to be completed within this timeframe.
  • Some states regulate how much massage can be performed by a technician vs. a licensed massage therapist.
  • Salons may charge substantially more for spa pedicures with extended massage. A massage therapist provides this specialized service.

A quick foot rub down feels relaxing, but if you want a more therapeutic 30 or 60-minute massage, expect to pay around $1 per minute extra. Some salons may offer discounted add-on rates if you want just a few extra minutes added to your pedicure.

Why Nail Polish Costs Extra for a Pedicure

Product Expense for Salons

Nail polish is one of the biggest expenses for nail salons. Salon owners must continually buy new colors and finishes to keep up with the latest trends. Popular brands like OPI and Essie can cost $6-10 per bottle when purchased at a wholesale salon distributor.

Considering each pedicure client gets a fresh coat, it’s easy to see howoffering free polish with every service would quickly eat into profits (especially for busy salons completing 50+ pedicures daily!). To offset this, most salons charge an additional fee ranging from $5-15 for polish.

Time and Labor Required

Applying nail polish extends the time and labor required per pedicure service. Depending on the number of coats and top coat needed, it can add 10-15 minutes extra work for nail techs. Given they are paid hourly or by service, including “free” polish cuts into potential wages they could earn by completing more pedicures.

Most salon owners opt to charge separately to account for the additional time and compensate techs fairly. This pricing model is typical of other beauty services too – for example, many hair salons charge extra if a blowout is requested after a cut and color.

Offering Clients Options

Charging separately for nail polish also allows clients to choose if they want it or not. Some clients getting pedicures may not want colored polish for various reasons – they have gel manicures that shouldn’t be removed, they dislike chemicals, or they may be getting a medical pedicure prior to a procedure.

By making polish an optional add-on service, clients have choice over products used and can request pedicures be kept natural if preferred. This flexibility caters well to diverse client needs. According to a survey by Nails Magazine in 2022, approximately 65% of pedicure clients get polish, while 35% opt out – confirming many appreciate having options.

Exceptions and Add-On Services

Some Salons Include Basic Colors

Many nail salons include the application of basic nail polish colors like red, pink, and neutral shades as part of a standard pedicure service. This allows customers to walk out with polished nails without paying an additional fee.

According to a 2021 survey by NAILS Magazine, over 65% of salons said basic colors were included with pedicure services.

Some popular salon chains that include basic polish options are Regal Nails, Pro Nails, and European Wax Center. So the next time you book a pedicure, check first to see if basic colors are complimentary before opting for a premium upgrade!

Premium Polishes Cost More

Salons will often charge an additional fee if you select a premium nail polish above the basic color options. These polishes may include trending seasonal shades, gel manicure colors, or lacquers with special effects like glitter, shimmer, or chrome.

The upcharge for these polishes is typically $5-10 added to the base pedicure price. High-end salons in metro areas or resort locations may charge even more for specialty lacquers. So be sure to find out prices beforehand if you have your heart set on the latest limited edition colors!

Polish Change Between Appointments

Many pedicure customers return to nail salons every 2-3 weeks for maintenance appointments between full pedicure sessions. Salon policies vary regarding charges for simply changing the color of an existing manicure.

According to reviews on rating sites like Yelp and Google, approximately 40% of nail salons will change regular polish colors free of charge between appointments if the nails are still in good condition. However, some salons may impose a small fee comparable to a basic polish application price.

Gel manicures, shellac colors, and other semi-permanent polishes almost always carry a fee for color changes or removal. But it never hurts to inquire politely with your technician about complimentary changes if you are a regular patron!

Ask Your Nail Salon About Polish

Getting a pedicure is one of life’s little luxuries. There’s nothing quite like sinking into a massage chair and letting a professional scrub, buff, and moisturize your feet. Pedicures leave your feet smooth, soft, and sandal-ready.

But there’s often a lingering question – does the service include nail polish?

The answer isn’t straightforward. Standard pedicures at nail salons often exclude polish. However, your technician will likely paint your nails if you request a polish change. Here’s what to know about scoring a fresh coat during your pedi:

Traditional Pedicures Skip the Paint

A basic pedicure includes clipping and filing toenails, removing calluses, exfoliating, and massaging feet and calves. The service concludes by moisturizing feet and sliding them into fresh flip flops. Nail polish isn’t typically part of the standard package.

There’s a good reason nail lacquer isn’t automatically included. Pedicure appointments are booked at regular intervals, usually 30 minutes. Applying nail polish adds extra time. Most salons don’t build a polish change into the regular service so they can keep appointments moving on schedule.

Upgrades Include Nail Polish

You can absolutely get your toes painted during a pedicure – for an upgrade fee. Most salons offer polish as an add-on service for around $5-$10. Opt for a deluxe pedicure, and a coat of color is likely included. Here are some pedi upgrades that incorporate lacquer:

  • Signature Pedicure
  • Deluxe Pedicure
  • Spa Pedicure
  • Gel Pedicure

If you want long-lasting color, spring for gel polish or regular polish with a top coat. It will extend the life of your shade so you can go longer between pedicures.

Bring Your Own Polish

At some salons, you can BYOP (bring your own polish) for no extra charge. Technicians are usually happy to apply a lacquer you provide at no cost. Just be sure to check the salon’s policy first.

If you want a specific color like a seasonal trend or rare shade, supplying it yourself ensures you get the exact polish you want.

Add Polish After Booking

Didn’t request a polish change when you booked your pedicure? No worries – you can still get a coat of color. Just ask your technician before your service begins. Most salons are happy to tack on a polish upgrade on the spot.

However, if the salon is busy or short-staffed, they may not be able to accommodate a last minute add-on. Try to give as much notice as possible to ensure you can get the polish you want.

BYOP for Touch Ups

Here’s a money-saving tip: bring your own bottle for touch ups. At your next visit, ask the technician to freshen up your color using the polish you provide. This takes just a few minutes and often doesn’t carry an extra fee.

Touch up appointments help extend your pedicure and keep your color looking salon-perfect between full services. Just be sure to check the expiration date before using an old bottle.

Pretty pedicures shouldn’t have to lack polish. With a few pro tips, you can score an on-trend lacquer during every salon visit. Ask about upgrades, BYOP, and touch ups to keep your toes shining in the latest colors.


While a standard pedicure focuses on skin and nail care for the feet, polishing the nails is considered an upgrade. Some nail salons include a basic color with the service or allow clients to change the shade between appointments. But in most cases, you’ll pay extra if you want your toes painted.

Knowing what to expect can help avoid surprise charges at the end. Remember to check with your technician so you can decide whether to add polish to your pedi.

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