State Cosmetology Boards Not Down With Fish Pedicures

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Photo: wsj.com

Last year, John Ho introduced fish pedicures to the United States. The procedure involves sticking your feet in a tub filled with tiny fish that nibble away at dead skin, which supposedly feels like a bunch of ants running over your feet. After Diane Sawyer shared her fish-pedicure experience with the nation on Good Morning America, the procedure was set to be all the rage — until some pesky cosmetology boards deemed fish pedis "unsanitary," causing at least fourteen states to ban the procedure. Yes, enough salons were planning to offer the procedure to warrant a ban. The Wall Street Journal reports that salons across the nation that invested in fish and tanks before the bans were enacted now find themselves in "a piscine uproar."

But there is hope for the legions of unemployed feet-eating fish! Ohio decided to allow the procedure after an ophthalmologist who sits on the state board of cosmetology decided to try it out. "It seemed to me it was very sanitary, not sterile of course," she said. "Sanitation is what we've got to live with in this world, not sterility." Technically, the only way to sanitize fish is to cook them for twenty minutes at 350 degrees, explains an official with the New Hampshire Board of Barbering, Cosmetology and Esthetics, which outlawed fish pedis in November. What — they didn't have an eye doctor on the board to send to the salon to decide if it seemed okay?

Fish-pedi pioneer John Ho isn't worried about the bans, since the procedure is legal at his beauty parlor in Virginia. He hopes the bans in other states will turn his salon — which is sandwiched between a pizza parlor and a taco shop in a strip mall — into a tourist destination for people who live in states that are too square to allow them. Like New Hampshire. Recession vacay!

Ban on Feet-Nibbling Fish Leaves Nail Salons on the Hook [WSJ]