Just Charlie G

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So, fish pedicures, one of the biggest things to hit the beauty industy in the last year or so. I’ve never had one, but they sound pretty fabulous, if not a little icky. Stick your feet in a fish tank and let the fish eat away all your dead skin leaving you with soft feet free from callouses and dead skin.

Sounds great?

Well it doesn’t really appeal to me to be honest, but I probably would have been willing to give it a go  should the opportunity have arisen…but now I’m not so sure.

I’m not going to discuss hygiene, I know there was recently a scare about disease spreading, but thats not what I’m here to write about.

Lets start by talking a little bit about the amazing Garra Rufa fish aka the Doctor Fish. Amazing little fish, from largely the Turkey area, they consume dead skin, but even more miraculous is the fact that in their saliva contains a healing enzyme which is largely why they are called Doctor Fish. They can really help in skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

With the recent explosion of popularity in Fish Pedicures around the world Turkey has had to legally protect the species from commercial exploitation. What does that mean? It means that Garra Rufa fish are harder to find and more expensive. Other important details are that the Garra Rufa is a toothless fish. It never bites, it nibbles and because it has no teeth and relies on suction it can be used on any part of the body without pain, or risk of any damage, it simply can’t remove healthy skin.

So I’m waffling on but what is my point and what does this information mean to you? Well, what it means is that a some salons are using “fake” Garra Rufa’s. They may be entirely unaware that they are using them, but it is still the case… in the search for the cheapest suppliers they are often unaware that what they are actually buying are Chin Chin fish. They look the similar for the most part. But there are important differences. Firstly they are less hardy and die easily.  Secondly it has teeth. Whilst still young, it’s unable to damage you but once it reaches approximately 6cm you can look out. At this point they need to be discarded (I shudder to think how) and of course this relies on the salon knowing this information, and acting on it.  The Chin Chin is an aggressive and cannibalistic breed of fish… put your feet it at your own peril. In addition, there are no healing benefits to be had from the Chin Chin, it’s not a Doctor Fish. what it does is peel skin, good or bad.

Now, having read a considerable amount about fish spa’s in the last few days I’ve decided I’ll never be having one of these, and I have been unable to find any numbers to substantiate how prevalent these fake Doctor Fish are in the UK, but I know from talking to people online that they have experienced being bitten…. so I’m guessing it’s not just a US problem.

If you really want to go and get yourself a fish pedicure then make srue you can tell the difference between a Chin Chin and a Garra Rufa before you put your feet in that water…

Garra Rufa:

Chin Chin

EDIT: when I found this out I thought I’d uncovered some great controversy that no one had heard of but alas, on googling further I see a few other bloggers have covered this too! Sorry!

0 responses to “What you should know about Fish Pedicures….”

  1. Charlie says:

    Thanks Jen! It’s interesting isn’t it. I really think it’s just a gimmick, a cruel one at that. I don’t think anything can beat elbow grease and file/pumice to get rid of hard skin!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Charlie,

    I had one of these in Bristol. From your pics, the little fish looked much more like the first ones, darker in colour.

    It was an experience, slightly odd and my feet may have felt a bit smoother but to be honest, they had their work cut out. I think it’s more of a novelty thing.

    I really dont like the idea of these little cannibal fish being used, and then discarded when their purpose had been served :o(

    I wont be having another one – I think a good old pumis stone and a bit of elbow grease works better anyway.

    Good post though charlie, nice to know some truths behind it all, even if they are disturbing.


  3. Cat says:

    I keep seeing this in our big shopping mall, and that alone puts me off! I definitely think it’s just a novelty, and one I’ve no desire to try at all.

  4. Cat says:

    Oh, and also, for £20, I expect my nails painted – which I’m guessing these fish don’t do!

  5. Lucy says:

    I agree nothing like a bit of pumice stone…

  6. I have never heard of this before! Great post, I personally hate feet in general so I could never subject myself to this, but my mum loves the treatment, so I’ll let her know about this!

  7. Miss Lipton says:

    I read a artical in Practical Fishkeeping about this and it made me think about alot of things, hygiene, safety, animal welfare included. The practical fishkeeping website has quite a few pieces on fish spas. It’s something I will never do, surely theres a reason some American states have banned it?

  8. Tass says:

    ugh the thought of a fish pedicure makes me feel sick just thinking about the hygeine aspect. I have seen a few of these pop up in the most random and grotty places and I wouldn’t go there if you paid me. I suspect not alot of people know about these fake Doctor Fishes and just get sucked in by the novelty of it all

  9. Esha says:

    Great post very informative, I am studying Virology atm and just the other day we were discussing how these pedicures could lead to an increase in the spread of viral diseases such as hepatitis C!

    Thats why some American states have banned it as Hep C is very prevalent in USA and these pedicure just increase the risk of spreading the disease further.

  10. Strawberry Blonde says:

    Blimey – disturbing reading! I have a Groupon voucher for one of these but not sure I’ll be using it now!
    Thanks (I think lol)
    Nic x

  11. makeup merriment says:

    I don’t think I could do this sort of pedicure. The whole idea of it grosses me out. Thanks for the post xx

  12. Lillian Funny Face says:

    I quite liked the idea of these, get my feet pedicured and give fish a tasty treat at the same time! But this is frightening, not only is it awful that they could be ‘discarding’ the fish once they’ve served their purpose (D:) but it’s worrying that they could basically be using any kind of fish if you don’t know you’re Garra Rufa from your Chin Chin! The Garra Rufa sure is cute.

  13. Me, my best and I says:

    Saw these all over the place in Bali and they freked me out- dont care how smooth they make my feet, no likey!!

  14. Skin Scrubs says:

    Thanks for this Charlie, I always thought these fish pedicures were dodge city but now you’ve confirmed it!

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