Master an At-Home Pedicure in a Few Simple Steps

by LaShanda Pitts
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It’s Saturday morning and a beautiful sunny summer day! You rise and look forward to the activities you’ve planned for the day; one of the special tasks on your to-do list is a pedicure – a treat for your toes.  You head over to your favorite nail salon, walk through the door and stop short … who would’ve thought everyone else would have the same idea!  The salon is bursting with customers and the receptionist has asked that you return for your pedicure in 2 hours!  What?!  You know you don’t want to wait two hours, but you also know you don’t want to go through the rest of the weekend with your toes in the disastrous state they are now!  Never fear, my dear, you’re going to treat yourself to an at-home pedicure.  The following are a few simple instructions to help you master pampering your own tootsies!

First, assemble the tools you will need:

  • Cotton balls/strips
  • Nail polish remover
  • Double-sided emery boards
  • A portable tub or foot spa filled with water
  • Towels
  • Nail clippers
  • Your choice of foot salts or soaks
  • Cuticle remover
  • Orangewood stick or cuticle pusher
  • Exfoliating foot scrub or pumice stone or file
  • Cuticle oil and moisturizing lotion or cream
  • Base coat, nail color & top coat

Get comfy in a chair and begin to remove old nail polish completely using cotton balls, strips or rounds soaked with nail polish remover. Holding the soaked cotton on the nail for a few moments to loosen stubborn, hard to remove polish before wiping off is helpful.

Add salts or foot soak to the water in your portable tub or foot spa and soak for several minutes; long enough for the dead skin and nails to loosen a bit.  A helpful tip is to add 1/4 cup of milk to the water; the lactic acid in the milk will help to soften and nourish your skin.   Removing one foot at a time from the water, trim your nails straight across with nail clippers, leaving about 1/8 of an inch in length. Trimming them straight across will set the foundation for filing.  Do not let your nail extend much further than the tip of the toe. Remove the other foot from the water, placing the first one back in.  Trim the nails on the other foot using the same technique.

After soaking both feet a bit more (you’ll want to revel in these precious moments!), towel them dry and use your emery board to file the nail into a square/round soft contour.  Around the corners, file the nail in one direction,  do not “saw” back and forth; this weakens the nail.  Emery boards are preferred over metal files, as they tend to give you a smoother surface.  Use the soft sided surface of the emery board for smoothing the contoured edge of the nail, and the coarse surface on the other side to shape and shorten the nails.

Next, apply cuticle remover cream or gel to the cuticle at the foundation of each nail.  Allow the solution to do its work for a few moments and with an orangewood stick, gently push back the skin of each cuticle.  Using a bit of the water from the foot spa or tub to dampen your feet, apply an exfoliating foot scrub or use a pumice stone or file  to loosen and remove the dead skin on heels and the balls of the feet.  Don’t be too rough!  The idea is to achieve a smooth surface.

Dry your legs and feet thoroughly; being sure to dry between the toes and apply a nourishing foot cream or oil to your lower legs and feet. Massage your legs and feet and rehydrate cuticles by rubbing in a dab of cuticle oil.  Now you’re ready to apply a beautiful shade of color!

If desired, wipe each toe nail with a little nail polish remover to remove the excess oil before applying your polish, this will help the polish adhere to the nail.  Apply a thin layer of base coat and let dry.  The most foolproof way of getting an even coat of polish across your toe nail is by applying with 3 strokes of the brush from nail bed to nail tip – one down the center first, followed by one on each side of the first stroke.  Be careful not to paint the cuticles!  Even if you make a mistake, no worries!  Use a bit of nail polish remover on a Q-tip to dab away the error.  Apply 2 to 3 coats of your nail color; let dry completely and follow up with a thin layer of top coat.

Let it all dry, and sit back and admire your beautiful toes!  You’ve mastered the at-home pedicure!  Congratulations!

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