Oh, summer. The season of bare legs and exposed feet. While many men and women eagerly look forward to warmer, longer days, there are some women who dread the summer months for one reason: sandals. Summer heat means exposed toes, and exposed toes means pedicures are in order. While this may seem trivial to some, others may find the cost of regularly pedicures somewhat prohibitive. Thankfully, an at-home pedicure is possible with the help of a few small tools.
At Home—the Best Pedicure Option
For many, a pedicure conjures up images of fancy chairs, basins filled with roiling water, and perhaps even a flute filled with your drink of choice. The luxury of these accommodations can be achieved, to some degree, at home—at a fraction of the cost. An at-home pedicure allows you the freedom of making your own decisions, the comfort of using tools that have only touched your feet, and such a low cost, any mistakes can quickly be erased and fixed.
While the cost is certainly a boon, giving yourself a pedicure also rules out the possibility of transmitting infection; most toenail fungus and other infections of the feet are procured while sitting in a fancy salon, sipping that glass of champagne. Using your own tools that have been properly sterilized in the comfort of your own home removes that risk entirely.
Additionally, you have complete freedom over your color and design options, as well as the type of polish used. As more reports identify the potentially hazardous ingredients found in many beauty products, using trusted brands and all-natural polish is becoming increasingly appealing.
Tools of the Trade
Now that you have made the decision to polish at home, you will want to make sure you have a few things on hand. Depending on the level of pampering you would like, you will need:
- A basin of warm water, or a foot bath
- Nail clippers
- Cuticle pusher and cream
- Nail polish and top coat
- Heat source
- Polish remover
- Decorating tools
- Callus razor or pumice stone
Most of these tools may be found at your local drug store or supermarket chain, though more high-quality versions of each item may require visiting a health and beauty store. After you have gathered your supplies, you’re ready for the next step.
First: Fill the basin or foot bath with warm water. To create a more relaxing foot bath, consider adding some magnesium or Epsom salts. These will both relax your feet, and thoroughly clean them of any dirt and debris. After you have soaked for 10-20 minutes, remove your feet and pat dry with a clean towel. Using a callus razor or pumice stone, buff or shave away any rough, callused portions of your feet. Dip in water and once more pat dry, before applying moisturizer.
Second: Begin prepping toes by cutting away any excess nail. This is an important step, as failing to cut long nails cuts down the life of your pedicure significantly. To avoid ingrown toenails, always cut toenails straight across, rather than following the natural curve of the nail.
Next: Apply cuticle cream and allow to sit for 1-5 minutes. After the cream has thoroughly softened and moistened cuticles, begin to gently press cuticles down and away from the nail bed. This step may take some practice to perfect, but will make a world of difference in the overall appearance of your pedicure; cuticles are often the difference between an amateur and professional-looking pedicure.
Continue by weaving strips of cotton through your toes. This will separate them to prevent accidental smearing of the polish as it is applied. Using clean, swift strokes, begin applying your chosen polish. Layer lightly; using too much polish at once will result in uneven coating, and will increase the likelihood of snags. Between each coat, be sure to apply a heat source such as a hair dryer or light to set the coat of polish.
Between layers, be sure to clean up any errant swipes of polish with polish remover and a cotton swab or tooth pick. Once you have completed your layers, you are ready to decorate. If decorating is not your style, feel free to continue to the next step. To decorate, allow the final coat of polish to dry. Using a stamp or pen, apply the desired decoration, and once again use a heat source to set. Be careful to work delicately when decorating; one poor move can result in the need to redo the entire nail.
Finish the look by applying a clear top coat. This coat, too, should be set using a heat source. Leave toes uncovered as long as possible—preferably overnight. Wake up in the morning, look down, and admire your at-home, professional-looking pedicure.
Any Tips for a First Timer?
As is true of anything, practice makes perfect. Do not expect a picture-perfect pedicure coming out of the gate. Perfecting the art of applying layers, thoroughly cleaning toes, and decorating on top of polish requires some amount of trial and error. Because of this, begin with the attitude of just having fun; turn on some music or a favorite television show, and make a night of it—perhaps trying it out your first time with a friend or family membes.
Additionally, do not be afraid to experiment; mix colors and patterns, utilize stick-on decals and rhinestones, and try drawing designs freehand. The more you experiment and try new things, the more comfortable you will feel in your newfound pedicure skills.
Finally, always remember to test new products on a small area of skin before using extensively. If you are using a new moisturizer, consider using it first on hands, as freshly-pumiced feet might be sensitive. Cuticle cream should be applied sparingly, as well as polish remover.
Your Toeses Can be Roses
Feet never feel quite as delicate and feminine as when they are adorned by a bright new pedicure. The sometimes prohibitive cost of professional pedicures, though, typically renders it an infrequent treat rather than an everyday occurrence. Using the steps outlined above, however, you can boast salon-ready feet at any time, all from the comfort of your living room or—even better—your bubble-filled bathtub.