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.
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...