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You *Can* Give Yourself a Salon-Quality Pedicure at Home—Here’s How

It’s time for your toes to experience a little R&R.

pedicure at home
My mother invested a lot of her time in at-home beauty while I was growing up, which meant that I’ve learned a few useful tips and techniques over the years, as well. Some of my favorite moments as a kid were when she and I would give each other pedicures. I’m not talking about a simple coat-of-lacquer-and-quick-dry experiencethis was a full foot spa soak with all different types of oils and salts, tons of lotion, and a slew of exfoliating tools for those rough spots that need a little more love than others. Through rituals like this, I learned that skin care and pampering are not exclusively designed to help us feel more attractive or presentable; rather, it’s about investing in your own self-care. When our bodies are healthy and well taken care of, our mental and emotional well-being improve, too.

During this time, where I’m trying to both relieve my COVID-19 anxiety and avoid the stir-crazy feelings that come with social distancing, I am taking every opportunity to make myself feel good. This includes, you guessed it, the at-home pedicure routine that I’ve curated over the years. If you’re looking to give yourself a little treat, or rather, can’t stand to look at your callused feet or busted nails for another second, then read on. Here is everything I do to achieve a spa-like pedicure at home.


1. Remove Old Lacquer

This is quite simple. I like to use the OPI Expert Touch Lacquer Remover with a cotton pad to erase all the old lacquer from my nail beds. Let the remover sit on your nails for a few seconds before you start to rub it away—that will help break up the old polish so you’re not aggressively scrubbing.

2. Cut, File, and Buff the Nails

This is extremely important to do before soaking your feet, because although it's enjoyable to sit in a foot bath, your nails typically soften and become rather difficult to shape when wet. If you trim them while they’re still soft, you can cause more damage and tears, and they won’t cut as smoothly. I first clip my nails with a toenail clipper to a length a bit longer than I want my final nail shape to be. After that, I go in to file the nails down to my preferred shape and length. Any coarse nail file will work. Finally, I use the Deborah Lippmann Smooth Operator Nail File for a quick buff across the top—this helps smooth out any unevenness in the nail bed.

3. Wash Your Feet

Let’s face it: We all accumulate stuff between our toes from time to time, and the idea of that, or anything else for that matter, swimming around while I soak my feet makes me feel uneasy. The importance of cleanliness during these rituals, especially now, is paramount, so please, for the love of everything that is good, wash your feet!

4. Soak Your Feet

Now the fun begins. I like to use a foot spa for this. It’s worth the investment, I swear—they last forever, and as a bonus, most models can also massage your feet, as well. As an alternative, simply fill either your tub or a basin with hot water. Add in about half a cup of Epsom salt, and sit for about thirty to forty-five minutes. I like to apply a sheet mask during this time while reading a book. The key here for me is to be away from my phone and simply enjoy being off the grid for a bit.

5. Break Out the Foot File

Now that your skin has softened, take a callus stone and really work at the soles of the feet, top of the toes, cracked heels—really, anywhere you may have callused skin. Just be sure to never trim calluses. Regrowth is absolutely inevitable, not to mention, the risk of infection is increased exponentially when taking a blade to the skin. Filing off calluses, or any other hardened skin, is certainly the way to go, as it gently breaks down dead skin cells to reveal a healthy texture underneath. I know this may take a while to do, but good things take time, OK?

6. Take Care of Your Cuticles

Cuticles are somewhat divisive. Of course, there is something beautiful about a totally clean and bare nail. That’s why we’re all taught to push them back regularly. I know that snipping them off may seem tempting, but please leave that to the professionals. Nail technicians are trained to trim cuticles without causing any damage (which can sometimes lead to infection). Instead, I like to massage the Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil into the skin around my nails for a few minutes. After that, I use a cuticle pusher to gently push cuticles back and scrape away any dry skin. Run the tool under the nail, too, to eliminate any dead skin that may be hiding.

7. Exfoliate

Now it’s time to exfoliate your skin to baby-bottom perfection.  I like to use the Frank Body Original Coffee Scrub on my feet, heels, ankles, and up my entire leg. I mean, if I have the scrub out, I may as well use it. This is completely up to you, however, and you can certainly stop at the knee if that’s more your jam.

8. Moisturize

Next up is moisturizer. I like to slather on a generous amount of soothing cream while giving myself a bit of a foot and leg massage. A great option is the L’Occitane Shea Butter Foot Cream. For an even more decadent experience, I apply more lotion, wrap my feet with Saran wrap, and then slip them into some cozy socks. This is crucial for locking in moisture and ensuring that your feet stay soft long after you finish your pedicure. I’d recommend being here for an hour, although you could go longerI sometimes wear this treatment overnight. Once you’re done, unwrap the feet and massage any excess cream into the skin. Take nail polish remover and a cotton pad, and wipe the toenails clean.

9. Paint

Now that your feet are properly pampered and primed, you may go forth with a nail polish, if you choose. I like to start with a strengthening base coat before applying two coats of a nail varnish that I absolutely adore. After that, I finish with a high-shine top coat to protect my polish from chipping. Et voilà! A pedicure so good that even you might forget that it was an at-home job.
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