La Prairie spa pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

I'm low maintenance when it comes to beauty, but I'm a firm believer of pedicured toes throughout the summer. Polished nails and hydrated heels are a must for sandal season. 

When my boss assigned me to compare an expensive pedicure to a cheaper one, my feet were thrilled — they practically ran out from under my body to start researching where to go.

Finding an expensive pedicure in NYC took all of 10 minutes. A quick Google search for "most luxurious pedicure in NYC" led me to a $120 caviar service at The Ritz-Carlton's La Prairie spa. To find a $20 pedi, I hit the streets and looked for a clean shop with a sweet deal. 

So what does an extra Benjamin add to the pedicure experience? Let's take a walk. 

First, we'll gaze upon the starting point. Lovely, no?

pedicure
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist
In the summer, I want my toes in the water and my ass in the sand, just like Zac Brown. Do these toes look ready for that? Absolutely not.

These cracked heels prove that I detest touching my own feet.

pedicure
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist
I exclusively get pedicures rather than DIY. Other people touching my feet doesn't bother me, but I have a bit of a phobia about scraping and scrubbing my own. 

I needed a pedicure and I needed one fast.

We begin here, at La Prairie spa, tucked inside the Ritz-Carlton near Central Park.

ritz carlton new york central park
photo: Compliments of Ritz Carlton
Yes, doormen greeted me. Yes, the front desk escorted me to the elevator and pushed the buttons. And yes, I felt like a #luxurybitch. 

I already knew this pedicure would exceed the standards of a simple nail appointment.

Upon check-in, the front desk employee escorted me to the bathroom for a fluffy robe, slide-on sandals, and a locker to store belongings.

La Prairie spa
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler
The spa bathroom came equipped with everything from beauty products to cucumber-chilled face towels. I could've spent the day pampering myself in the bathroom!

I made my way to the waiting room, where a spread of fresh and dried fruits, nuts, coffee, tea, and iced citrus water was waiting.

La Prairie spa
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

This is me, chilling in the waiting room, living my best life in a white fluffy robe... all for a pedicure.

La Prairie spa
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

This is the definition of extra and I loved every millisecond of it.

A few relaxing moments later, my nail technician, Raynell, came in to retrieve me. Let the caviar pedicure commence.

La Prairie spa
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

La Prairie is a Swiss beauty brand founded on the ideology that science is the key to youthful skin. The brand offers both skin care and makeup products with a strong focus on cell rejuvenation.

According to the spa menu, a La Prairie Caviar Luxe Pedicure is "all the luxury and brilliance of The Perfect Pedicure combined with a relaxing foot and lower leg hot stone massage with a Skin Caviar Luxe Soufflé Body Cream finale."

Um, yes please.

I chose a color from the plethora of Deborah Lippmann shades.

La Prairie spa nail polish
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

Who is Deborah Lippmann, you ask? She's THE celebrity manicurist for prestigious runway shows and magazines.

My pedi started like any other — with clipping and filing. Oh, except I got to choose what music filled the room.

La Prairie spa pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

When I first stepped into the room, I saw what appeared to be a regular massage table. Was there a separate room with a foot bath? Are $120 pedicures void of water? Before I could fathom any other scenarios, Raynell lifted the bottom cushion to reveal a small tub. 

Pure magic. 

Next came cuticle care.

La Prairie spa pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

Notice the cushion is back on; it remained there for the entirety of this extra AF pedicure, which I prayed would never end. 

After that: exfoliation and callous removal.

La Prairie spa pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

"Basically [the exfoliator] is like I'm giving your feet a facial," Raynell explained. 

Do you think the Kardashians get facials for their feet, too?

Time for polish? Not even close. First my feet needed a hydrating mask.

La Prairie spa pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

Please note the paint brush application.

Afterward, Raynell slipped my feet into booties for extra foot mask product absorption.

La Prairie spa pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

Put little bells on the toes and I'd be on my merry way to the North Pole. 

As I waited for the mask to sink in, Raynell gave me a hand massage and a neck warmer.

La Prairie spa pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

I can't make this shit up. This is a play-by-play, no exaggerations.

Foot and leg massages followed the removal of the booties, including a hot stone massage.

La Prairie spa pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

After saying goodbye to the booties, I received a foot and leg massage to really lock in all that moisture. Raynell wiped my legs down with a warm, lavender-oil-scented towel before whipping out the hot stones.

The final touch was a slathering of $450 skin cream.

La Prairie spa pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

The luxe cream is infused with caviar extract for firming and hydration. 

For my polish, I chose what the kids are calling "millennial pink."

La Prairie spa pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

We need to take a moment to admire the innovative pedicure flip-flops with built-in toe separators. BOUGIE AF, Y'ALL. 

The best part of this polish? The formula is quick-drying (15 minutes) and requires no time under a dryer.  

Gaze upon this $120 caviar pedicure. Hydrated feet? Check. Polish-free cuticles? Check. A relaxed body and mind? Double check. 

Luxury bitch status achieved.

Best. Pedicure. Ever.

selfie
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

You better believe I took my sweet time relaxing in the La Prairie environment after my treatment. This was more than a pedicure, it was a full spa experience — down to the fluffy embroidered robe. 

The day after this blissful nail service, my legs and feet felt silky smooth to the touch. Was it from the caviar extract? The hydrating mask? A combination of everything? Who knows, but I couldn't stop caressing my legs. 

But unfortunately, all good things must come to an end...

After almost three weeks and a chipped nail, it was time to brave the chair for a cheap pedicure.

In my search for a cheap but CLEAN spot, I found Golden Tree Nails & Spa in Gramercy.

I walked in and one of the nail technicians instructed me to choose a color from the various walls of polishes.

nail polish colors
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

OPI and Essie and gel polishes, OH MY! I enjoyed the wide selection, but I get overwhelmed when I have too many options. 

After spending entirely too long trying to choose a color, I finally decided on OPI's Parlez-Vous OPI?.

opi nail polish Parlez-Vous OPI?
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

I choose wine bottles based on the label and nail polish colors based on the names. If you're reading this and know how I can get a job naming nail polish colors, please let me know.

This is me waiting for my pedicure, without a robe or complimentary refreshments.

Selfie
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

Dorothy, we're not at the Ritz anymore. Like most nail salons, the pedicure area is equipped with massage chairs. But I wasn't in a private room and I didn't get to choose the music.

Instead of a cushion-topped foot bath, I got a water light show.

photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

Not mad.

Same as before, this pedicure began with cutting, filing, and cuticle care.

pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

She even asked if I wanted my nails filed into a square or oval shape. 

A hygienic act captured on camera: replacing the foot file.

pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

My heart smiled a little when I saw her stick a new file on. 

Note: I passed on the callous remover because it cost $10 extra and I wanted to stay true to the $20 pedicure experience. *sad face*

Instead of a hydrating mask and caviar cream, I got an exfoliating scrub followed by a warm towel to wipe down my legs and feet.

pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

No, the towel wasn't scented with lavender oil. But I did enjoy the mini foot massage post-exfoliation, because who doesn't enjoy getting their feet rubbed?

No high-tech pedicure flip-flops here, just a bit of foam.

pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

Unlike my $120 pedicure from the gods, this one required some dry time. The quick-dry top coat cost $1 extra. Sorry, guys, I splurged because I hate waiting. 

From far away, it didn't look too shabby... and then I took this photo. The iPhone 7 Plus doesn't lie.

pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

I was shooketh to say the least.

The clear polish around the nail later peeled off, revealing a nearly flawless pedi. But let's remember, it's a $20 pedicure.

So, which one's the winner?

pedicure
photo: Revelist/Brittany Fowler

If a $20 pedicure exceeded a $120 pedicure, we'd have an issue. 

The expensive pedicure was an elaborate steak dinner with a full-bodied red: lavish and delicious, leaving you more than satisfied. The budget-friendly pedicure was a Chipotle bowl to-go: quick and tasty, but leaves you wanting more a few hours later. And just like guac, callous remover is extra.