Sometimes, especially with how long quarantine has lasted, you just look at your feet, and you can’t help but think: How did I let it come to this? Your feet might be a little cracked, your nail polish is chipped beyond belief, or maybe you’re just really in need of some treat-yourself-time. No matter the reason, knowing how to give yourself a professional pedicure from home will seriously update your next home-spa day. And as coronavirus cases continue to spike in some states, salons may slow down or halt their reopenings, meaning it’s all the better you know how to get your pedicure on at home.
“The key components to a pedicure are getting rid of dead skin and rejuvenating the foundation of your body — your feet,” Syreeta Aaron, LeChat Nails Educator, tells Elite Daily. “Polishing your toes, of course, is the cherry on top.” Whether you’re on your feet all day or just looking to do a little self-care, you might as well spend some time pampering the part of your body that takes the most wear. And even if you’re doing the job solo at home, it might help to have some guidance along the way. Sundays Nail Studio offers tutorials you can watch, or you can even book a virtual masterclass with them to ensure your pedi is perfect. Sundays also has a Pedicure Kit ($88, Sundays) available to purchase, with everything you need for the most calming experience.
Here’s what you'll need to get started.
Before you get started, Aaron suggests having a soaking tub, nail clippers, a cuticle pusher and nipper, a nail file, a buffer, cuticle oil, pumice, massage cream, Epsom salt, a body scrub, and essential oils alongside your nail polish, for the ~full~ experience. If your toes are like mine, you may also want to get your hands on a toe separator before you get started. Of course, hot towels and a candle will really help you get the most salon-style pedicure vibe possible.
Start with a relaxing foot soak.
Amy Ling Lin, the founder of Sundays, recommends that you remove any nail polish from your previous pedicure before starting to soak your feet, since it may be harder to remove once your feet are wet. Also, pay attention to the water’s temperature. “To give your feet a rejuvenated feel, you would need to have warm to hot water. You can add Epsom salt to reduce pain and inflammation,” Aaron tells Elite Daily. “To further enhance your pedicure, you can add a few drops of diluted essential oils, such as lavender, eucalyptus, or peppermint.” Both Ling Lin and Aaron recommend letting your feet soak for about 10 minutes before performing any further steps, so make sure to have your favorite book on hand.
Exfoliate your skin, and shape your nails.
Once you’re done soaking, you can massage your favorite body scrub on your legs and feet to get rid of any dead skin — don’t forget in between your toes. Then, with a Pumice Stone ($5, CVS), you can get rid of any calluses by rubbing the stone along them back and forth. Just be careful not to overdo it; Ling Lin warns that going too hard can actually make your skin rougher.
After your feet are smoothed to baby-bottom status, it’s time to shape up your toenails with nail clippers, a nail file, and a buffer. First, cut your toenails starting in the corner. When filing, Ling Lin says it’s best to place the file underneath your toenails at a 45-degree angle before filing back and forth. Then, gently push back your cuticles with a Cuticle Pusher ($8, Amazon). At this point, a professional pedicurist might nip away your cuticles; however, not everyone loves this step, so do whatever feels most comfortable to you. Take your buffer to the surface of your toenail and rub it along the cuticle area and the edge of your toenail. After all that work, Aaron says to make sure you use cuticle oil, like LeChat Nail’s Cuticle Oil ($30, LeChat Nails), to keep your nails healthy and strong.
Don’t forget to moisturize.
While letting the cuticle oil sit, it’s time to moisturize. Any body moisturizer will do, Ling Lin recommends using one of Alba Botanica’s body lotions, like its Very Emollient Maximum Body Lotion ($10, Amazon). You'll want to pay special attention to the back of your feet, according to Ling Lin, since they can easily dry out.
Now, you can move on to my favorite part: the hot towel. Make sure you dampen it under a faucet and wring it out before placing the towel in the microwave to warm it up. After 30 seconds, your towel will be ready to go. Simply wrap it around your feet for three to five minutes. If your feet are particularly swollen this summer, Aaron suggests adding about five drops of essential oils, like rose, thyme, or eucalyptus, to the towel to help reduce inflammation.
Ready your nail colors, and start painting.
When you’re feeling supremely relaxed, you can start painting your nails. Wipe away any excess oil with a paper towel and start by painting one layer of base coat over your nails. “Base and topcoats are super important because they keep your nails healthy and make your polish last longer,” Ling Lin says. After letting the base coat dry for about 30 seconds, you can apply your nail polish. But don't be afraid if you tend to have a shaky hand — trust me, you can still get a good paint job. “Place your finger onto your toe creates stability with the brush,” Aaron says. When you have to paint your dominant hand, Ling Lin states that placing your non-dominate fingernails horizontal on the brush will help you apply the nail polish more evenly.
If you do make a mistake with your polish application — and let's be real, we all do — Ling Lin says you can easily fix it by just lightly applying more nail polish over the smudge. If you get a little (or a lot of) polish on your skin, Aaron recommends using a toothpick wrapped in a tissue to clean up and that you should actually avoid Q-tips, because the fibers can stick to the polish. After you're happy with your first coat and let it dry for a beat, you should apply a relatively thin second coat, says Ling Lin, and let it dry for a few minutes before apply a single layer of topcoat.
If you’re not very patient, Ling Lin also recommends using a quick-dry oil like Sundays’ Quick Dry Oil ($20, Sundays) after your topcoat, so you don’t have to worry about smudging your pedi. The oil should be applied about two to three minutes after your topcoat and needs only about seven minutes in total to dry.
If you’re looking for fun new polishes to try, Aaron loves LeChat Nails’ Unicorn Tears ($12, LeChat Nails). The polish is iridescent, so you can use it alone or put it on top of your favorite polish for some extra shine and dimension. There's also LeChat Nails' Dare to Wear Mood ($12, LeChat Nails) which changes shades based on your body temperature, like a mood ring. Sundays also has a vast collection of vegan, non-toxic nail polishes, but No. 3 ($18, Sundays) is a great option for a neutral you can wear with all your open-toed shoes.
Your feet literally carry you through everything, so it’s good to spend time making them feel healthy and nourished. And after giving yourself a spa-level pedicure, your feet will definitely thank you. Light up your favorite candle, grab your next nail color, and get ready for relaxation.