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Manicure vs Pedicure [What Is The Difference Between Them?]

If you are looking to get your nails done, you may have stumbled across two different terms: manicure and pedicure. But what do they refer to and how do they differ? I spent some time researching everything that is involved with each treatment and will be sharing what I found here today.

So, what is the difference between a manicure vs pedicure? A manicure is a treatment session of the hands and fingers, whereas a pedicure is a treatment session of the feet and toes. Either way, both treatments typically involve the grooming, care and maintencence of the skin and nails. Although different tools are used for each treatment option.

What you will have will ultimately depend on what you will want to get done. Sometimes, you may therefore opt for both a manicure and a pedicure.

It depends on your preferences, but either way your local nail salon should, and will likely, be offering either service.

Let us know take a look at both the manicure and pedicure in closer detail; what’s included, how often you should get either done and the typical costs involved.

What Is A Manicure?

A manicure is a beauty treatment of the hands, with special focus on the fingernails.

It involves specific tools, products and techniques to improve both the look and feel; while also promoting their health and future growth of your nails.

Manicures are also very relaxing in nature, and having one done is typically very soothing.

While manicures can be done at home, they are commonly provided by nail salons and manicurists.

They specialize and have the knowledge and experience to provide a more comprehensive treatment.

Manicures generally take between 15-60 minutes to have done, depending on the level of treatment being provided.

What Is A Pedicure?

A pedicure is a beauty treatment of the feet, with special focus on the toenails.

It involves various tools, products and techniques to remove dead skin, soften hard skin and treats/shape your toenails.

Pedicures typically begin with a foot soak or bath in warm water often infused with essential oils. This is to soften the skin and to prepare it for the exfoliation.

Pedicures are often provided by salons, spas and pedicurists and generally last between 30-90 minutes depending on where you go and what you choose to have done.

What Is Included In A Manicure And Pedicure?

What is included in a manicure and pedicure depends on where you go and the different options that they have available.

That being said, there are some general practices that most salons and spas will provide for either treatment.

We will now look at each of them below:

Typical Manicure

A typical manicure usually involves the softening and removal of dead skin from the cuticles of your nails.

A cuticle pusher or cuticle remover is often the tool used here.

A nail file will also be used to shape your nails according to your preferences, and upon a style that you desire (this could be round, square, squoval, almond etc.).

From there, your manicurist will first apply a base coat, before moving onto a top coat in the choice of color you request and that they have stocked.

The basis of a good manicure therefore involves:

  • Treats any hangnails or loose skin around your nails,
  • Cleans your nails, shapes them and paints your nails in a color of your choosing,
  • Provides hand massages to promote blood flow to your hands/nails and improve their health and growth,
  • Use specific oils and creams to exfoliate and clean your hands and nails.

That is in essence the basic mani.

Although there are generally different types of manicure available, the most common ones being:

  • American: which provides you with very clean, natural looking nails with shaping toward the tip,
  • French: nails are cut into a somewhat square shape and a nude color is applied. White tips are then painted on.
  • Gel/Shellac manicure: These manicures will use specialized nail polishes that are resistant to chipping for up to two weeks. Placing your hands under UV lamps is required to set the polish.

Typical Pedicure

A typical pedicure will begin with a foot soak in warm water that is often infused with essential oils.

This will loosen any hard skin, which will then be removed through an exfoliating rub.

Following this, your pedicurist will move onto your toenails and will cut, shape and treat your toenail cuticles.

Then, certain creams or oil will be massaged into your feet.

Some treatments will involve massage of the lower legs; but not all will and you will likely need to pay more for this level of service.

At the end, toenail polish will be applied onto your toenails.

The basis of a good pedicure therefore involves:

  • Treatment of any hangnails or loose skin around your toenails,
  • Cleans your toenails, shapes them and paints in a color of your choosing,
  • Removes hard, rough and dead skin from your feet,
  • Provides massage on your feet/lower leg to promote blood flow and improve their general health.

That is in essence the basic pedicure.

Although there are generally different types of pedicure available, the most common ones being:

  • French pedicure: where your toenails are squared and the tips are painted white,
  • Gel/Shellac pedicure: where your nails are painted with a more robust polish, that is then set under UV light.

Should Your Manicure Match Your Pedicure?

Whether or not your manicure matches your pedicure comes down to personal preference.

It also depends on your budget and whether the nail salon/spa carries the same supplies for both finger and toenails.

Sometimes this may not be an issue if you go to the same place for both treatments. But if you intend or need to go to separate places, it may be an issue.

Matching is of course not mandatory. But if you do want to do so it does look fantastic.

It is also somewhat of the traditional thing to do; and many of older generations will generally opt for it.

You can see why.

It does shows a level of sophistication, and that you are well put together.

That being said, if you did want to opt for different colors and want to mix and match, the choice is down to you.

Besides, it can be rather fashionable.

Just ensure the colors do go together somewhat.

How Often Should You Get A Manicure And Pedicure?

It is generally advised to get a manicure once every 2-3 weeks, a pedicure around once per month.

The reason why manicures are recommended more frequently, is that fingernails are generally exposed to a lot more.

We use our hands constantly throughout the day, and our hands/nails come into contact with all sorts of products, chemicals, materials etc.

The result is that they can quickly become damaged, dry, brittle and weak.

Regularly manicures, with treatments applied to our nails can help improve their health and ensure that we do not suffer with any long term issues.

Pedicures on the other hand (no pun intended) are different.

Generally, once per month will suffice. Although it does depend somewhat on the individual, their lifestyle and the condition of their feet/toenails.

Runners, swimmers, those who are more active and on their feet or those with a lot of dead/skin calluses may require more frequent pedicures.

At the other end, you may be able to go 2-3 months without one.

It all comes down to context and what is right, and works, for you.

Is A Pedicure More Expensive Than A Manicure?

The average cost of a basic pedicure is between $30-$50, whereas the average cost for a manicure is $15-$35. So, a pedicure is generally more expensive than a manicure.

However, the total cost you can expect to pay does depend on a number of factors such as:

  • Your location,
  • The nail salon/spa,
  • The type of treatment you have,
  • How long your treatment is expected to last,
  • The experience/reputation of the manicurist/pedicurist,

There is therefore absolutely the possibility that a manicure can cost you double the price of a pedicure and vice versa.

It all depends on your own circumstances and what you are looking to have done and where.

Perhaps the best thing you can do is research ahead of time and before visiting any salon/spa.

Many have online menus where you can check the prices, or you could even contact to get the typical rate for your area.


While manicure and pedicures are in many ways about treating and promoting health and growth; they are focused on entirely different parts of the body.

So in summary:

  • Manicure = hands,
  • Pedicure = feet,

Manicures are typically cheaper, but are generally required more often, whereas pedicures can be quite involved, take longer but tend to last.

At the end of the day, you need to consider the health and condition of your nails.

Whether you opt for one or both will depend on your preferences and your budget.

But either way, you should expect a relaxing treatment that can go a everyone deserves every once in a while.