Beauty blogs have been a-buzzin’ about Garra Rufa fish pedicures for some time now, but what you might not know is that the Kensington branch of Aqua Sheko was the first spa in London to offer the fishy feet treatment.
Although skin-eating fish sound like killer creatures from a zombie nightmare, they’ve been used for centuries to keep skin smooth. Naturally occurring in Turkish springs, the fish are already a hit in Asia, and now the craze has come to the UK.
Located next to Curzon cinema and smack bang in the centre of Soho, the Aqua Sheko spa I visited looks like a chic and expensive nightclub, with contemporary Oriental-inspired decor, black walls, soft lighting and illuminated tanks.
The exotic approach to exfoliation began with a gentle foot washing and a cup of lychee tea. I was soon settled on a black leather bench with my tootsies submerged in one of ten tanks teeming with tiny silvery fish.
It’s a bizarre sensation, having hundreds of suction-cup mouths suddenly feasting on your skin, but not painful at all. The fish have no teeth, so they suck up the dead skin cells with a gentle nibbling sensation, leaving the fresh skin underneath feeling soft and smooth.
Similar to pins and needles, or being blasted by jacuzzi bubbles, it’s ticklish, surreal and strangely therapeutic, and unlike all sorts of other supposedly skin-softening treatments, you can see and feel it happening.
The results can be inconsistent; you can’t control where the fish want to feast, so although you might hate your hard, coarse heels, the skin-sucking shoal might be more interested in your ankles or the tops of your toes.
But like any beauty treatment, it’ll take an ongoing commitment to see significant results, although my skin afterwards was noticeably smoother and softer. And since it’s so gentle, with no skin-irritating products or sinister chemicals, it’s had rave recommendations from those who suffer from psoriasis and eczema.
My fish pedicure was followed by a blissful foot massage that left me feeling like I was walking on air (as opposed to the poor, mangled monsters my feet had been on arrival), and a session in the ground floor manicure bar.
This is essentially the same idea, but with the Garra Rufa fish feasting on hands instead of feet. Not as many spas offer this though, and the social set-up, with customers seated on tall stools at a long bar of fish tanks, means it’d be a novel way to catch-up with a friend. At Aqua Sheko, there are even two private tanks for those daring to try a full-body fish exfoliation.
With wonderfully warm, friendly and attentive therapists, gorgeous, comfortable surroundings and treatments that deliver undeniably softer skin, I’ll definitely be back.
29 Frith Street
Tel: 020 7734 8977
Image by DoNotLick, Jennifer Boriss courtesy of Flickr