Perfect Pedicures

Unlike a good manicure, a great pedicure is not about the polish and the shape of the nails. And no matter how much fruit-flavored lotion and holistic potion you use, elbow grease is the key.

The perfect pedicure should take at least an hour and the pedicurist—like one of my favorites, Luda Zhuran at the John Barrett Salon in New York ($65; 212-872-2700)—should be tender but not reticent. Zhuran scrapes off the calluses, scrubs away dead skin, inspects your toes and soles, massages your feet and legs, and fixes the cuticles—twice, just to get it right. There is a reason people call it the Luda-cure.

Outside of Manhattan, I recently had a fabulous pedi in a private cabana at the Peninsula Spa in Beverly Hills ($130; 310-551-2888). Here, I would recommend a woman named Joanna Hill, who spent a lot of time scraping, pumicing, and painting.

In India, Bombay is home to one of the most luxurious foot rubs: Moiz Munshi at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower’s Jiva Spa ($35; 91-22/6665-3366) is among the best. (Munshi’s father was so famous for his massages that an industrialist whose feet he tended to flew him around the country.) In this case the pedicure was practically a ritual and more about pummeling my feet gently into shape than polishing the nails.

One last note on polish: Many salons insist that the cheap stuff is just as good. As for me? I’m stuck on Chanel for its square bottles, fleshy pink shades, and true reds like Rouge Noir ($25) that only a pedicure-ophile could love.