By Ana Tavares
Dipping your feet in a tank of fish might not be your idea of a pedicure, but the Garra Rufa fish have long been used in manicures and pedicures in spas around the world.
Small and inoffensive, the Garra are originally from Turkey, where they were used to alleviate skin conditions like psoriasis. Today, they’re an essential part of a trend that’s arrived in the Algarve – fish pedicures.
The concept is simple: dip your feet in the water and the fish eat the dead cells, leaving your feet as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
Clients often start by filling out a health questionnaire – people with open cuts or fungus can’t do the treatment – and then go into a room where their feet are carefully disinfected and examined. Then it’s time to take the plunge and let the Garra work their magic.
The feeling is strangely relaxing and not at all painful. If you resist the temptation to look into the pod, you would think your feet were in a Jacuzzi filled with bubbles. The fish have an enzyme in their saliva which helps keep the skin smooth and what they can’t remove, they loosen.
In terms of safety and hygiene, the water should be sterilised, filtered and changed twice a day, and the fish should be fed with fish food to obtain extra nutrients.
Before treatment, ensure with the salon staff that all safety and hygiene regulations are abided by and request certification to prove this.
Prices often start at around €15 for a 15-minute pedicure.