Liberty London is by far my favourite department store in London. I always drag friends visiting from out of town there and watch as their jaws drop.
The awe starts with the building’s architecture. Back in 1924, the Tudor-rival building was constructed from the timber of two ships. Today, the wood floors and tiled fireplaces imbue the space with that warm, homey feeling.
When I enter, I always beeline to the elevators, head straight to the top (there are six levels) and work my way down through the exotic rugs, haberdashery, unique gifts, designer collections, scarves and stationary. And then there’s the lower ground floor, which some ladies might be programmed to skip because that’s where men’s department is. (Note: if you are on the hunt for guys stuff, this level has the most beautiful cabinet of vintage items for men.) But wait, beyond the menswear, there is a treat there for you ladies.
After a day of shopping, your feet are tired and your back’s a little stiff, but fret not, The Margaret Dabbs Sole Spa at Liberty lies in wait.
Depending on where you are from in the world, a Maragret Dabbs pedicure might not be what you are expecting. You will anticipate soaking your feet in a footbath, possibly with jets and a massage chair to boot, but that is not how things are done at Margaret Dabbs. While you can have a foot Detox Bath that will rid your body of toxins, the majority of her pedicures are not wet. As it turns out, when your feet are moist it is much easier to aggravate your epidermis and remove more skin than necessary. And how do I know this? My podiatrist at Margaret Dabbs informed me so.
I underwent the Medical Pedicure by a qualified podiatrist named Helen. Helen’s been practicing podiatry for seven years (only for four years at Margaret Dabbs), and there is nothing she hasn’t seen. She has treated ulcers, diabetes, amputees, warts, fungal nails, and I am sure plenty more that most people, like me, couldn’t stomach.
The Medical Pedicure begins with Helen examining my sole, pointing out my flaws: my shoes are too narrow, so I am developing corns on my baby toe, and I step heavy on my heels. It’s clear, she can deduce quite a bit at a quick glance.
After the “examination,” she proceeds by clipping my nails and filing them with down the Margaret Dabbs Crystal Nail File. The vibrations of the file promote growth and strength the nail bed, while the smooth surface prevents nails from splitting. She follow this with the probe—an invasive little tool that removes any icky stuff from the underside of your nail. I shutter. Next, it’s time for the drill.
The drill removes any dryness on the nail and the surrounding skin, but goes gentle on cuticles. She explains how you don’t want to remove much, as your cuticle prevents infection—another thing that low-quality pedicures make the mistake of doing. After polishing my nails to promote that healthy shine, she moves onto my feet. Drawing her blade, this is where it gets scary. She uses the blade to slice off any hard, dry skin on the heel, as well as the early-developing corns on my baby toes.
Then, using the Margaret Dabbs Professional Foot File on dry skin, which allows her to see the skin’s texture easier, she impressively maneuvers the crystal file on foot sole. Ridding it of the sinful dead and callus skin. The sensation mildly tickles, but apparently, in the last seven years she’s practiced podiatry, she has only encountered two people who are too ticklish to have their feet touched.
The file truly works wonders though—I have my own and can vouch for it. With little effort even you can accomplish professional results. I inquire about the life expectancy of my file, and apparently it all depends how religious you are with using it. Helen recommends you use one side until it wears down, before alternating. The older side will smooth the skin after you apply the rougher, new side. But the file papers should last at least two months, and you can buy affordable replacements after that.
After my skin is left smooth to the touch, she moisturizes with Margaret Dabbs Foot Lotion, formulated with Emu Oil, which boasts anti-aging properties. While this marks the end of my Medical Pedicure, if I were to have had the Ultimate Luxury Foot Therapy the Medical Pedicure would have been followed by a a foot exfoliation and footpath in a bespoke relaxation massage chair with an oxygen mask. The revitalizing oxygen mask promotes alertness and is good for your skin.
Instead though, I receive my assessment. Helen’s determined that my circulation is poor, and she disconcertingly tells me she could not even find the pulse in my right foot. I believe it, my nails had lost their normal pink hue due to slight elevation and their stillness. She’s warned me that it is something I need to watch, and I would never have known this, had she not brought it to my attention.
She has also recommended visiting three to four times a year for a Medical Pedicure and reminds me that if any foot problems arise, the Margaret Dabbs Sole Spa is able to treat them. Say you are suffering from fungal nails—which I hope you aren’t—but they are the first clinic in the United Kingdom to use a laser treatment to vanquish the ailment without the side-effects oral medication would cause. They also use acupuncture for stubborn verrucae warts or heel pain, while also providing bio-mechanical assessments for bunion prevention. All that said, despite the medical nature of Margaret Dabbs clinics, they honesty still feel more like a relaxing spa, than a cold podiatrist’s office. Let’s just say a healthy foot, is a healthy soul.