While it’s a bit more involved than a manicure, an at-home pedicure doesn’t have to be intimidating — this beauty treatment is easier to nail than you might think. All you need are the right tools, a few ground rules and just a bit of patience. To recreate the experience you’d get at the salon, ET Style has broken down the art of the DIY pedicure into three steps: clean, prep and paint. Follow these steps for a thorough, long-lasting pedi that you’ll want to show off with those sandals you just scored on sale.
An at-home pedi kit also makes a thoughtful gift for the holidays! Round up the supplies, including your gift recipient’s favorite shades of nail polish, and put everything in a cute gift box or basket. (We’ve got lots of other gift ideas for beauty lovers, including products you can order on Amazon and the beset skincare and makeup deals.)
Below, ET Style’s guide to a no-fail at-home pedicure.
Step 1: Clean
The perfect pedicure starts with stripping your toes down to their natural beauty and soaking your feet to soften any dead skin, making it easier to scrub off.
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Use nail polish remover and a cotton pad to wipe off any old polish or dirt. This gentle soy-based remover is enriched with vitamins and lavender essential oil, offering a pleasant removal process. If you’re dealing with extra stubborn or gel polish, use a stronger remover that contains acetone (like this one from Nails Inc.) — it’ll get the job done easier, although it is more likely to dry out your skin and cuticles.
If you only get a foot bath at the salon, you’re missing out on a luxurious, relaxing experience at home. This easy-to-use foot spa gently massages your feet as they soak — just add warm water, activate the toe-touch control and sit back with whatever book you’re reading. There are fancier versions of this Conair foot spa that will add heat and bubbles to your experience; this one is great for your basic pedi needs.
Elevate your foot bath experience by adding a muscle-pampering foot soak with epsom salt. The epsom salt in this antibacterial foot soak works to soften calluses, eliminate odors and fight irritations and fungus, while the lavender oil soothes and calms. Soak feet for five to 10 minutes, then dry completely with a soft towel to reveal feet that are clean, rejuvenated — and ready for the next step of your DIY pedicure.
Step 2: Prep
Roll up your sleeves — now it’s time to trim, file, scrub and moisturize.
This kit includes a nail file, a round buffer, a paddle foot file, a toe nail clipper, a toe separator, a plastic cuticle pusher, a cuticle oil pen and a stainless steel cuticle nipper. Start with the nail clippers to trim toenails to your ideal length, then use the file to shape them. Cuticle care is optional — if you want to clean up your nail bed, apply a dab of cuticle softener to each toe and gently push back or carefully nip the cuticles.
For extra care, consider a callus and dead skin remover that’s designed for feet. The battery-operated Amope Pedi Perfect Foot File uses a 360-degree roller to gently buff away the thick, hard skin on heels and toes, resulting in seriously soft and smooth feet within seconds.
Now that your feet and toenails are looking good, moisturize them with a thick lotion formulated for tough, dry skin. This Aquaphor ointment contains panthenol and glycerin to moisturize, nourish and protect your skin from head to toe — we particularly love using it as a foot cream.
Step 3: Paint
There’s more to this step than choosing a pretty shade of nail polish! A base coat and top coat will work together to make all of your hard work last.
The very first thing you should put on your nails is a thin coat of a longwear base coat. Think of this step as you would applying a primer underneath your makeup: It creates an even texture for nail polish to glide over and helps the polish stick to your nails. A good base coat also creates a barrier to protect nails from potentially damaging polish ingredients.
Clearly, you should paint your toes whatever color (or colors) will make you happy. Right now we’re loving the range of softer shades included in this Deborah Lippman set; for a brighter, bolder look, opt for the vitamin C–infused Freshly Juiced Nail Polish Duo from Nails Inc. Apply two coats, allowing each to dry completely. Your toe separator will come in handy here.
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You want to keep your pedicure pristine, right? Use a top coat to seal the polish, prevent chips and add even more shine. Let it dry for at least 10 minutes — allow for up to 20, if you have the time — or you might end up having to redo a few toes.
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