Pick up your supplies. For a good quality pedicure, you’ll need some basic toe-tampering supplies. Grab a tub and water for soaking, nail clippers, a nail file, a cuticle stick/orange stick, a nail buffer, a pumice stone or scrubbing brush, a clear top and base coat, and a polish color of choice. Optional additional supplies include bath salts for soaking your feet, cuticle trimmers, cuticle oil, and lotion for a massage afterwards
Remove any pre-existing nail polish. Although it may seem obvious, taking off your old nail polish is an important first step to giving yourself a pedicure. It’ll be hard to add a new color over the top of an old one! Use an acetone remover, making sure to get the bits along your cuticles as well.
Start your soak. Fill a tub or basin with hot water, and if you’d like, a bit of bath salts or oils. Now it’s time to sit back and relax! Let your feet soak for 10 minutes; the hot water will soften tough calluses and remove the dirt and grime that might have built up. It will also help to soften your nails and cuticles, which is critical when you’re prepping to paint your toes.
Cut and file your nails. Start by trimming your nails down to size; use a pair of nail clippers to cut your toenails to be just short enough to see a bit of white at the tips. The shape of the nail should be slightly squared, following the natural topline of your toes. Use your nail file to buff down the sharp edges of nail the clippers might have left, and to do any further shaping you would like.
- Avoid cutting your nails in a rounded shape, as this can promote ingrown toenails.
- If you’re able, try filing your nails in the same direction to avoid splitting the layers and damaging your nails.
Prepare your cuticles. Although this step is optional, it can go a long way in making your toes better prepared for painting. Use your orange stick/cuticle stick to gently push back the cuticle around each nail. If you have cuticle trimmers, gently cut away the excess cuticle skin that builds up over time. Rub on a little cuticle oil when you’re finished to supplement the sensitive skin with a bit of added moisture.
Smooth out the tops of your nails. Use your buffing pad to file down the ridges and rough edges on the tops of your nails. Pay particular attention to the edges that you’ve just trimmed or filed, as this area typically needs to be beveled a bit to create a level plane, so to speak. Use your buffing pad in the same direction and tilt the angle of it to reach the entirety of each toenail
Clean up and soften your skin. Now it’s time to move onto your actual feet. Use your pumice stone to scrub down the calluses on the heel and ball of your foot. You can scrub pretty roughly in these areas, because the skin is often very thick and dulled to pain. When you’ve removed any dried skin or calluses, you can use a scrubbing brush to clean up your entire foot. Use the brush between your toes and all over the bridge of your foot, adding soap if you’d like a bit of an extra clean.
- Be sure to rinse off your feet with a bit of water after scrubbing.
- Avoid using a “cheese grater” type tool on your calluses, as these have proven to be dangerous and can cause fungal infections.
Finish preparing for polish. Remove your feet from the soaking tub completely and empty it out. Dry your feet off, and if you’d like, massage on a layer of lotion into your skin. If you choose to do this, use a bit of nail polish remover to clean up your nails again (the lotion can keep polish from sticking).
Add your base coat. Use a clear nail polish as a protective base coat on all your toenails. This will prevent your nail polish from yellowing your toenails, as well as give your lacquer a solid base to stick to.
Apply your color of choice. Select a nail polish color, and paint each of your toenails. Start in the center of the nail near the cuticle, and use long brushstrokes towards the tip of each nail to fill in the color. Work from the center outwards until all your nails are filled in, using a fingernail or the edge of an orange stick to wipe off any polish that might have mistakenly gotten on your skin. You may need to add two coats of polish in order to get an opaque layer of color.
Finish your nails. Wait a few minutes for your polish to begin to dry, and add a clear top coat. This will set your polish in place, and help it to last longer without chipping. Then, protect your feet for 10-15 minutes while the polish completely dries. Test the polish with your finger to see if it is still tacky; when it is totally smooth to the touch and doesn’t smear under pressure, you’re finished! Go show off your cute new toes, and relish your soft new feet.