Pedicures for Men – Inside a Nail Salon for Men


Gentlemen, the temperatures are warmer and we have to take care of the condition of our feet. Wearing flip flops and slippers has overcome the pool party and spread to the grocery store, airport and restaurant. Where full-foot shoes used to be the domain, today you have to look at the back of the heel – that special area where even the most discerning gentleman looks like an ostrich. It is our responsibility to the world to show our best side.

But I have good news for you my friend: It’s finally safe for you to get a pedicure. I mean, it’s always been like this, but now there are spas that specialize in giving men the treatments they need without compromising their insecure manhood. One of those men’s spas is Hammer & Nails Grooming Shop for Guys, a chain with 18 locations across the country, and one of their secrets to success is avoiding the word Spa: “The way we talk about our brand is important,” says Hammer & Nails CEO Aaron Meyers, “and we use words like spa or salon tends to make men feel like they’re going to their wife’s shop.” Meyers knows what he’s talking about; Fifteen years ago, when he started as an executive at Massage Envy, 99 percent of that company’s clients were women. “In fifteen years , we’ve gotten guys going from ‘don’t touch me’ to ‘I’m a better husband, a better dad, a better pro when I’m in less pain,’ and now half the members are by Massage Envy Male,” says Meyers. A complete grooming experience is just as important as a good massage. So if Hammer & Nails has to put a treatment on the menu it calls The sports pedicure to get guys to try it, then they will. I signed up for a sports pedicure because how can you not? Bring me in, coach; it’s slip-on espadrille season.

You sit there for a while and relax and you really realize how problematic that is police officers is from today’s perspective

Any doubt that Hammer & Nails would be safe for boys was shattered – like a baseball bat – the moment I walked in the door. Foo Fighters’ “Best Of You” played at an aggressive volume, bouncing off the heavy wood and corrugated iron of the man cave-like space. The receptionist offered me a whiskey and seemed genuinely surprised when I declined. It was eleven o’clock on a weekday. “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” she said, and while I appreciated the mood, it’s not five o’clock wherever I am until noon at the earliest. A man must have discipline.

My podiatrist was a sunny young woman named Mia. “Like ‘Wallace,'” she said. (“A pulp fiction Reference will calm a man,” she was definitely told.) Mia sat me in an absolutely massive leather chair and began the treatment by soaking my feet in a tub of hot lavender water. (Sports Lavender.) Just hot enough and so soothing that I relaxed at the thought of showing my toes to a stranger.

There were flat screen tv’s throughout the treatment room but it was a bit early in the day to watch live sport so they mostly played police officers and Tosh.0. The music was parked around the same magical moment: OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson”, Baby Bash’s “Suga Suga”, no less than three songs with Ja Rule. So they’re not just targeting men, they’re targeting men of a certain age — that sweet spot from 35 to about 50, made up of men who are starting to have a little bit more disposable income, men who are starting to care for them slightly better but haven’t done the internal work that would allow them to get a pedicure without the word “sport” in front of it. As someone on the high end of this demo, the music calmed me down and I also started asking myself some tough questions about what 2050’s senior living communities might sound like.


Boys get their nails done at Hammer & Nails.


Incidentally, the “sport” of the “sports pedicure” does not derive from the podiatrist putting your foot on a soccer ball while trimming your nail beds, or drawing Kobe Bryant’s number on your toenails. The “sports pedicure” is something for active and resilient men. guys like me! I’m a runner who lost toenails straight away in marathons, which is less alarming than it sounds and probably less gnarly than what women with Louboutins have to endure. But still worthy of the care of an experienced technician like Mia.

Next up are the calluses. “A lot of dancers keep their calluses intact,” says Mia. I’m not a professional dancer, but I’ve kept my calluses intact through a process I call “never do anything about my calluses.” That’s the part I was dreading, and for the first time on this visit I wish this space was more like a men’s garage because a power grinder seems like the best tool for the job. Mia goes to work with the razor and rasp, and she does it much happier than I would if I were so close to the soles of my own feet. Mia is making progress, but it will be a few more visits before this area is open to the public. (That’s on me, not Mia.)

After some nail trimming and buffing—they don’t buff, which is a shame because a bold red would be a real slouch to a sports pedicure—there’s a salt scrub that almost puts me to sleep, and then a hot stone massage the Feet and calves that make me absolutely fall asleep. A mask of menthol and seaweed (Sports seaweed) is applied to the area which is then gently wrapped in hot towels and you can sit there and relax for a while and really realize how problematic it is police officers is from today’s point of view chilling in the treatment room is the goal. “Women’s salons bring them in and out,” says Mia, “but we want men to get used to this process, take their time, and keep coming back.”

Mia takes off the hot towels, lets me dry off and puts my socks and shoes back on, and damn it, my feet are soft. As, Angel Soft. As, it’s weird how many times i’m touching her right now Soft. As, why didn’t I do this earlier Soft.

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“I’ll be honest man guys come in and their feet are Poorly,” says Meyers.Guys have been told that it’s somehow more manly to care less about yourself, which is a backward-looking mindset.” Mia confirms: “There’s this machismo factor and the idea that these things are only for women. But kings got pedicures. Once men realize that a pedicure should be treated like a haircut, it clicks: It’s good for self-esteem, it’s like reupholstering old furniture.” And I agree, although I can’t help but notice that we’re having this conversation behind a thick wooden door so no one on the street can look in and see a man getting a pedicure.

And that’s the foosball (like soccer, a popular sport). After I settled the bill—$80 plus tip—it hit me like the midday sun, bright and unclouded by morning whiskey: This was my first pedicure. As willing as I was to write an article about how toxic masculinity has robbed generations of insecure men of the simple yet sublime pleasure of a pedicure, the truth is, I am one of those insecure men. Even a guy like me who thinks he’s half-evolved is actually only half-evolved.

But this is how we move forward. Small steps. On beautiful feet.

Dave Holmes appears in every print issue of Esquire. Subscribe here.

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