Pedi Like a Pro: 8 Steps to the Perfect At-Home Treatment
As a beauty editor, my skills are pretty good, but I have never mastered the at-home pedicure. Nail art, yes, facial massage, all over it, but ask me to paint my toenails and I will produce for you 10 messy digits that look like Jackson Pollock has run amuck on my feet. The secret, it would seem, is time and patience, so set aside an hour this weekend and treat your feet. Keep scrolling for eight steps to the perfect at-home pedicure.
Before anything, you need to shape your toenails. To avoid the nails becoming ingrown “file straight across with a crystal nail file,” advises podiatrist Margaret Dabbs.
“With clippers or scissors, you can’t always guide them properly to see what you are doing.” Vanessa Williams Head Educator at Nails Inc agrees, “Keep toenails cut straight across just in line with the end of the toe, and never round them at the corners. You can cut them a tad shorter if you are a runner, athlete or gym enthusiast.”
You can also use a glass file to thin a thick nail or buff nails that are discoloured from polish.
Use a foot file on dry skin. “Skin becomes rubbery when wet,” explains Dabbs. If your feet are seriously dry and hardened, then use a metal file.
For corns and callouses avoid using blades, advises Williams. “Blade removal of hard skin can be painful and encourage it to reappear tenfold. If you have to, only have this done by a qualified podiatrist.”
The skin on your feet is 12 times thicker than anywhere else on the body, so don’t be afraid to slough away. “Try fruit acid peels for excess hard skin on heels and balls of feet. These are great at breaking down the excess hard skin, leaving feet soft and refreshed,” says Williams.
A foot soak is a great thing to do after a long day on your feet, whether you’re doing an at-home pedicure or not.
Williams suggests “soaking your toes in a cocktail of fresh lemon, mint, your choice of essential oil and Epsom salts to reduce swelling, neutralise odour and kill any bacteria. Dry thoroughly between your toes.”
Now massage in a heavy duty moisturiser before slipping on some cotton socks and elevating your feet to reduce any swelling. Chill for five minutes.
Our resident at-home pedi expert Elinor Block recommends using a cuticle pusher to ensure all cuticles are pushed back and any excess dead skin around the nail bed is removed.
Next, use a cotton pad soaked with nail polish remover and wipe over each nail. This will take off any moisturiser or oil that could prevent your nail polish from adhering properly.
This is where you need some patience. Find a comfy spot to perch your foot so it is still. Elinor holds her iPhone in one hand and shines the torch on her toes (we kid you not). “It helps me see exactly where I’m painting,” she says.
When painting your toenails, use the same principle as you would with your fingers. Start with a base coat. Next, take the polish and start just below the cuticle in the centre of the nail, push the brush very lightly towards the cuticle (but don’t touch it!) before painting down to the nail edge. One stroke in the centre and two either side for your big toe and then one or two strokes on your smaller nails should suffice. The key is not to flood the cuticle with polish. If you do, take an orange stick wrapped with a little remover-soaked cotton wool and neaten up between the nail and your skin. Once the polish is touch dry layer on a high-shine top coat.
For a professional finish, once the topcoat is touch dry, apply a drop of cuticle oil on each nail and gently rub in to nourish your nails and the surrounding skin.
Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail& Cuticle Oil (£7)
Want more how to's? How about this facialist-approved guide to squeezing your spots at home?
Opening image: Free People