Pedicures and Haircuts in Oaxaca: Essentials

This is not meant to be a frivolous post. When you are here in Oaxaca, Mexico, for more than a few days or weeks, you need to know a few essentials. Like where to take care of your feet when you pound the pavement for hours on end looking for that best quality, bargain priced huipil or quechquemitl. or the perfect ripe avocado, the restaurant with the best mole negro, and the market stalls that sell candied figs and oranges, and pecans for my Moroccan tagine, or the right size anchor and screw to hang a picture in the concrete wall. It’s a hard life!

Then, there is the hair. Men can easily walk into a barber and ask for the Number Two blade on the electric clippers. For women, it’s a little more complicated. Short hair might need a trim every three or four weeks.


Tomato and Candy Apple Red? Toes matter.

We might like a haircutter who uses several different types of scissors to get the best layering and then feathering, making sure that each tendril is exactly the same length on both sides of the face. The details matter.

So, we ask around, seek the advice of friends, try out a new spot that just opened or keep going back to the tried and true hairdresser who does an okay job, but we know how to find him/her. We go back because it’s also risky to try someone new. 

This post was written in 2014.

The recommendation is no longer current.

This week, Carol Knox and I splurged on our feet. We got the DeLuxe Spa Pedicure at XXXXX (deleted salon) a small, impeccably clean, nicely appointed hole-in-the-wall salon just opened by Mayra and Noemi, two delightful young women who met each other at beauty school. We had pounded so much pavement trailing Power Shopper Susan during the week, that we needed urgent care.

Now I’ve heard some people here complain that pedicures take too long. They want in and out in thirty minutes. They can’t imagine how anyone could take so long to soak and trim cuticles. Here in Oaxaca feet are lovingly cared for because toes show. Almost every woman wears open shoes or sandals. (Many of them are four inches high.) The super-deluxe pedicure with rose petals in a bubbling hot water bath, exfoliation, massage, and heat treatment (in addition to clipping, cleaning, trimming), takes at least an hour. (There are no high thrones here that include back massage along with water agitation, as far as I’ve discovered.) However, it’s still a great excuse to relax, take it slow, not think about texting or emailing. Close your eyes and feel that hot water bath relaxing your tired feet, melting away those callouses. Ah.

I’ve tried several places. So far, I think XXXX is the best, although their selection of OPI colors could be more extensive. Nevertheless, the 250 pesos (about $19 USD) special deluxe is 100 pesos cheaper than where I had been going. Another option is to get the standard pedicure at 180 pesos that comes without the rose petals, water agitation, exfoliating cream and heat treatment. That’s about $13 USD.

Then, impulsively, I decided to get a haircut. Mayra did the cutting. Excellent. Perhaps one of the best haircuts ever. 100 pesos (about $7.00 USD).  I had been paying 70 pesos (about $4.50 USD) at Fashion, another small, woman owned shop on Fiallo near Arteaga recommended by Jo Ann. I liked it there. But XXXX is more centrally located and easier to get to and a bit more plushy. I’m certain the young women owners would love your business!

Got your own recommendations? Add them here in the comments section!

19 responses to “Pedicures and Haircuts in Oaxaca: Essentials

  1. Hi. I’m in oaxaca right now and need a medical pedicure, for an ingrown nail. any recommendations?

  2. I was not happy with my haircut at all, either. I have short hair and she didn’t have many photos to look at so I showed her some pixie cuts on her telephone. My Spanish is perfect and I told her repeatedly that I wanted to leave the front part long and shave the back part. She didn’t cut the back short enough, and she cut the sides almost as short as the back. It looks worse now that its growing out.

    I understand that its not easy to find someone to cut short hair here, but this isn’t the place.

  3. Based on this suggestion I ventured for a pedicure at Avenue Estillismo today. Well, they have moved and are now located on Guerrero. I went there and after an hour was not happy with my experience. The young girl was inexperienced and it took a lot of botched maneuvers to finish up my toes. Now I need some recovery time. Combined with aweful loud music, I would not recommend this place.

    • I’m so sorry you had this experience. Thanks for reporting it. Staff change and it’s unfortunate. I am now going to Claudia at Estetica d’Alex.

    • I had the same experience, at one time I was bleeding from a fingernail as well as from a toe, while both girls were painfully jabbing me. I kept protesting and saying “for favor, mas suave.” Why I didn’t just get up and leave? I don’t know. They were obviously more interested in the soap opera they were trying to watch when I came in. I suggest that this website take down that rave post about Avenue Estudillo, if possible, so no-one else suffers the same rip off.

      • I’m sorry for your experience. The post was written in 2014. As you suggested, I have deleted the name of the salon and do not recommend it. I haven’t been there in years. Thank you for the suggestion.

  4. Hi Norma – thanks for the heads-up as to where one can buy the Wolky’s. I had no idea they were made in Mexico – yippy!!!!!

  5. This was a great post! When I was there in 2012, knowing where to get a pedi and a haircut was essential. I loved getting my nails bedazzled by Haruko, a young Japanese girl who had a shop in the centro and painted amazing nail designs!

    • Hi, Lola! Thank you. If I remember correctly, Haruko is on Av. 5 de Mayo between Independencia and Murguia. There’s a two block span there, but maybe someone who is interested can find it. She usually has a sign board on the sidewalk.

  6. The cleaning of their tools is important or you will get a fungus. After your pedicure/manicure come home and spray your nails with alcohol. I KNOW this because I grew up in the Panama Canal and had many many pedicures.

  7. Woman don’t take the time to pamper themselves. To sit for one hour to just relax is unheard of.

    One of the gals in the picture taken of their feet in sandals, looks like she is wearing Wolky sandals. Was in SMA and saw a woman wearing these sandals and she said she had traveled around the world with them. Came hone and ordered myself a pair….so so comfy.

    • Well, that would be me! I love my Wolky’s. I’ve been wearing them for several years and now have four pairs in different colors to match my Oaxaca blusas, faldas, and huipiles. Did you know they are made in Mexico? They are European design — Dutch or German. I’ve looked and can’t find them for sale anywhere in Oaxaca. When I’m visiting my sister in Santa Cruz I look for them on sale at the local shoe shop. I also have had success ordering them online “slightly used” from eBay, where there are bargains to be had when someone buys, wears once, doesn’t like! They are a perfect fit because of the 3-way velcro adjustment across the arch and ankle. I’m right there with you extolling their virtues. I walk and walk in these shoes and my feet never tire.

  8. Thank you! Thank you, Norma! We are going to be in Oaxaca for 4 months next year. As I keep my hair very short, I was fretting about what I was going to do! Now I know! Your posts are always so helpful.

  9. High thrones with massages located at salon on the corner of Abasolo with Avenida Juarez, but expect to pay $450 for that luxury.

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