Woman is synonymous with beauty, and her quest to look good is age-old. This is the reason why she will go the extra mile to remain attractive, sometimes at the cost of a small fortune. For many centuries now, the cosmetic world has remained lucrative, with hundreds of beauty products being released into the market. And women in Mombasa have not been left behind when it comes to spending money to feed their beauty cravings.
In tow are their husbands and boyfriends, who have lately thronged saunas and beauty spas — all in effort to attain good grooming. That is why millions of shillings have been spent on all sorts of beauty treatments: hairdos, waxing, hip and bust enlargement, manicure and pedicure, in a bid to look good.
Today, the latest craze is the recent introduction of a beauty procedure that has caused a sensation at a clinic in Mombasa’s Nyali estate. Hundreds of women and men in the coastal city are now thronging the City Mall to sample the first ever fish pedicure treatment in the port city — pedicure using live fish.
For the uninitiated, the prospect of fish nibbling at their feet to perform the ancient form of beautification of pedicure appears far fetched, but not in Mombasa anymore.
Interestingly, this is no new procedure. The so-called fish pedicure is a spa treatment popular in Asia, where Garra Rufa fish in little bowls are used to clean the feet of customers.
“The fish is also called ‘Doctor Fish’ or ‘Nibble Fish’. It feeds on the dead skin on the feet and eventually cleans all the dirt,” Elizabeth Simiyu, owner of the Slim Theraphy Spas in Kenya, says.
“These fish look cute and I am here to try and sample what fish pedicure is all about,” says April Shani, one of the first clients at the Slim Therapy Spa, located on the mall’s second floor as she dips her legs into a large aquarium–like container, full of the Garra Rufa fish.
She says the overall experience after dipping her feet in the basin and having the small fish feed on her dead skin is amazing.
“The sight of fish on my feet is enticing. I had only seen this on television and today I am here with the fish around my feet,” she says.
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As she sits, about five other people let their feet in, pants rolled up, as the Garra Rufa fish gently nibble on their toes and ankles.
“It is ticklish,” Tuweiba Ndunge, a worker at the Technical University of Mombasa, says.
“The experience is new and exciting. We are having a full house, today being our first day and hope that word will go round on this new treatment style that is already becoming popular with many people who care about beauty,” Ms Simiyu says.
Mombasa-based sports promoter Mariam Mpata, the brand ambassador of the Slim Therapy Spa in Mombasa, is all praise for the new experience. Simiyu says most of their customers are women since the modern day woman wants to have the best and look the best.
“It is an easy way to get dirt and dead skin removed rather than having to scrub your feet with creams. Fish pedicure makes the feet soft and improves blood circulation in the area, relaxes muscles and activates acupuncture points. At our spa, fish pedicure is followed by a foot massage,’’ Ms Simiyu adds.
The beautician points out that she has to clean the water three times daily, so that both the fish and her clientele can stay away from opportunistic infections. The treatments costs Sh1,500 per session and normally lasts 20 minutes. A further search on the internet about fish pedicure reveals a wide range of claims about fish spa therapy.
The Garra Rufa fish exfoliation is said to stimulate blood flow and improve circulation, remove bacteria and reduce foot odour and help with athlete’s foot. It is said feet will be smoother and softer after treatment. It is also said the fish can stimulate acupuncture points, helping regulate the nervous system, relax the body and release fatigue.