The squeals are coming somewhat from a place of delight and the ticklish prickling sensation, but mostly they are in mild horror as the fish nibble away at my feet in a basin of warm water.
The fish, about the size of my pinky finger—though some are frighteningly more robust than others—are supposed to enjoy eating the dead skin, which makes this a symbiotic relationship, since I happen to enjoy smooth feet. But this has got to go down as one of the most bizarre beauty rituals I’ve ever tried.
It’s a Turkish thing, originally. The fish—who would eat the dead skin at Turkish spas where they would treat psoriasis patients—are exported to adventurous salons mostly in Asia.
I tried Dr. Fish in Korea, but they are also popular in Japan, Croatia, China, The Netherlands, Singapore and Malaysia. As of this year, those in Alexandria and Woodbridge, Virginia, can try the Dr. Fish pedicure as well.
If I were a dead-skin eating fish, I know where I would focus on a foot, but the little dark fish didn’t seem to agree, and moved all over, mostly paying attention to the already smooth tops and undersides of my tootsies.
After the 30-minute soak, I have to say my feet felt soft but I’m fairly certain it was more due to the warm water than the fish.