Pedicure Nail Art Is The One Controversial Beauty Trend I’ll Always Defend

Hear me out.

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Pedicures are one of the great joys of life. Period, full stop. There is nothing as relaxing, or frankly, as intimate, as having basically a total stranger massage and care for your feet. And now, with summer beauty appointments at the top of my to-do list, I find myself longing not for a simple coat of polish during my 45-minute pedi, but pedicure nail art. That’s right — in my not so humble opinion, fingers have reigned over the nail art world for far too long, and it’s time for the toes to take back the crown.

For starters, ponder this — in terms of straight-up real estate, which area has more room to explore fantastical designs? I don’t know about you but I’ve yet to meet a nail art enthusiast whose thumbs are more substantial than her big toe. And frankly, while some people might assume that the realm of possibilities for pedi designs are limited to the ‘90s era daisies with a gemstone accent (which are still fire, don’t come for me), they just haven’t found an artist with the vision for pedicure art.

In fact, the rise of faster and easier nail art options like press-ons and nail wraps has brought with it more design option for toes, with brands like ManiMe and NodSpark leading the way. Eugenia Ye-Yeo, founder and owner of NodSpark, explains that while the brand did not initially offer pedicure options, they began producing the nail wraps (including delicate floral and fruit designs, both of which I very much need for summer) in 2020 in response to customer demand. “The pedicures sold out quickly upon our first launch, and we quickly realized that pedicure users are a market of its own as not everybody has a manicure on all the time,” she says. My thoughts exactly.

Courtesy of NodSpark

Still, I’m aware that not everyone wants to bedazzle their toes, especially since the likelihood of anyone actually seeing your pedicure is entirely dependent on both the weather and your footwear. Why extend the extra effort or cost (unless you live in Florida, where I’ve received many of my favorite pedicure designs)? It might even seem garish or trivial depending on how minimal you prefer to keep your typical mani-pedi, but for the more maximalist nail art lovers, why can’t this be the next frontier for nail artist creativity? Sure, you may not be able to apply long acrylics or gel nails to the same degree as you can on your hands (if there is someone out there who disagree with me, please contact me immediately — I have questions), but you still have ten toes to work with that are just begging for a little more pizazz than your average red or nude nail.

And for the detractors who say an embellished toe is superfluous, may I remind you that toe rings were once considered the height of fashion-forward accessorizing circa 2000. Clearly, you should never discount the styling possibilities south of your ankles. Or maybe it’s just my inner millennial feeling nostalgic and desperate to escape — bringing with her all of the colorful, flashy, and downright extra aesthetics of my youth that the past year rendered pointless, replaced by comfortable athleisure and unfussy, unpainted nails.

So is pedicure nail art just the beauty editor’s equivalent to wanting to strap on your highest pair of stilettos for all the world to see now that it’s safe to be around your friends and family again? Perhaps. Or is it simply ‘90s and ‘00s nostalgia run amuck? Most definitely, but you can blame the larger cultural zeitgeist for that. I mean, I already committed to re-piercing my belly button in the wake of revival fashion (and feeling so cooped up that there weren’t a lot of other fashionable options to spark joy), so I feel zero hesitation waltzing into my neighborhood nail salon and requesting anything from a tasteful half moon to a full-blown squiggles and negative space design for my pedicure. Maybe even a flower or two — the possibilities are endless!

As far as I see it, pedicure nail art is the epitome of beauty for the sake of it being fun — no standards to uphold or complicated techniques to master. Impracticality is not a luxury that people were afforded much of over the last two years, and if a rhinestone on your toe isn’t the embodiment of that, then I’m not sure what is.

Now, with summer’s arrival officially here, and my sandal collection overdue for some attention, you can hardly fault me for embracing a more gratuitous mindset when it comes to my toes. So prep the glitter and stencils, because I declare that pedicure nail art is back — and better than ever. If you’re still not convinced and would prefer to leave your toes bare or stick to plain polish, that’s fine. This is one beauty hill I am willing to die on.

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