If you have travelled through Turkey or the Far East you may well have come across the strange phenomenon of people sitting on the edge of a fish tank with their feet plunged in the water, a plethora of tiny fish swarming in and around their tootsies.
While it may seem like they have just found the nearest body of water to cool off their feet after a long day of shopping, they are actually getting the latest skin cleaning treatment!
What’s It All About?
The fish are Garra Rufa, otherwise known as Doctor Fish. They feed off dead skin while leaving healthy skin alone. Initially they were employed to remove dead skin from patients suffering skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema, they have now become popular as a way of removing dry, hard and dead skin from feet and hands leaving them soft and smooth. Before you have visions of a piranha like swarm chomping at you heels, the Garra Rufa gently suck the dead skin away from the healthy skin.
As far as bizarre modern beauty treatments go this does not seem that weird. Women have been willing to rub creams made from snake venom, placenta and bird poo on their faces and bull semen in their hair, inject artificial substances into their cheeks and lips as well as freezing muscles with the botulinum toxin, have snakes writhe on their back for the ultimate massage or have suction cups put on their backs resulting in huge bruises! Getting fish to nibble off dead skin seems like a natural solution that harks back to simpler times.
What’s it like?
With this pedicure don’t expect to come out with nails trimmed and decorated in the latest chic red. This is a much more medicinal treatment that prepares the foot to be primped and painted. To start with your feet are washed so as not to contaminate the tank and then it is time to take the plunge. I was quite timid, slowly dipping my toes in the water and feeling what the fish were like first. Embarrassingly I burst out laughing when they first attached themselves to my feet. What did they feel like? Well frankly they tickled! I found it quite hard to keep my feet still and stop myself from kicking the fish off but slowly I got used to the sensation and was able to relax a little and enjoy the bizarre situation. After the time was up I withdrew my feet to have them gently massaged dry and have some moisturiser cream added. My feet felt buffed and soft, ready for another eight hours of sales shopping in fact!
Where can I get it done?
Appy Feet opened the first UK fish spa in Sheffield but now has fish spa bars up and down the country. Treatments cost £10 for 15 minutes and £20 for 35 minutes.
For Londoners, head to Aqua Sheko in Kensington where an Express treatment costs £30 while a Deluxe is £45.