A Salon-Worthy Pedicure At Home
Although it’s nice to be pampered by a professional sometimes, going for a pedicure can be an expensive luxury. The good news is, you can learn to achieve salon-worthy results at home. Here is a comprehensive guide to stepping up your nail game without the professional price tag.
What you’ll need:
- Basin or bathtub
- Epsom salt, bath salt or dead sea salt
- 2-3 drops of essential oil
- Foot file
- Foot cream
- Cuticle oil
- Nail clippers/scissors, cuticle pusher, nail file
- Toe separators
- Acetone and cotton balls/pads
- Polishes: base coat, top coat, and colour of choice
A professional technician will complete a few steps before beginning the pedicure itself. It guarantees the best results and is part of the pampering experience.
Remove existing polish
Opt for acetone rather than polish remover. This will prevent you from having to scrub, which can weaken the surface of the nail. For more stubborn colours or glitter-based polishes, soak a cotton wool ball in acetone and hold it to your nail for a minute or two. You can secure it with foil or tape to ensure the whole nail plate is absorbing the acetone - this will help it to break down, allowing you to swipe off the colour without any vigorous scrubbing.
Speaking of scrubbing, if you want to go all the way with your pedicure, use a foot scrubber or buffing block to deeply exfoliate the heels and balls of your feet, and any other problem areas. You can do this either before or after soaking, just take care not to over-exfoliate. If your skin is particularly dry, you may like to follow this step with a moisturizer or foot cream, and allow it to sink in before taking the next step.
Protip: Remember to clean your foot file with soap and water after every use to keep it sanitary.
Soak your feet
This is where the indulgent part begins. Fill a basin with warm water (not too hot, otherwise you’ll dry out your skin). Adding Epsom salts can help with foot odour, and essential oils can help with a variety of ailments. Try eucalyptus oil for soothing aches and pains, camomile oil for its anti-inflammatory benefits for sensitive skin, or tea tree oil for its antiseptic properties, helping with spots, bites or rashes. Soak your feet for 3-5 minutes. As well as being therapeutic, this can also help to soften the skin, nails and cuticles ready for treatment.
Now your skin is soft and supple, you can gently push back your cuticles (without breaking them) to give you a clean, clear area to paint onto.
Shaping the nails
This is the part that may take a bit of practice, and will depend on the shape you prefer. The rule of thumb is to cut the toenail straight across to reduce length, then use a file to smooth the nail tip and round the edges. Some prefer a more ‘square’ look, some prefer rounded or oval.
The golden rule is: never cut down into the corners of the nail, and be careful not to file too deeply into the corners when rounding them. This can encourage the nail to grow into the sides, causing in-growing toenails. Not pleasant!
After trimming and filing, apply cuticle oil to keep the nails supple and strong.
For a perfect first coat, practitioners recommend sweeping an acetone-dipped cotton wool ball over the nails once again, to remove the residue from the cuticle oil (after allowing the oil to sink in for a few minutes to get the benefits). You can also use a nail buffer to smooth the surface and remove any dust from filing.
Now it’s time to put on your toe separators. These are important, as they’ll prevent any polish from smudging onto neighbouring toes. If you don’t have them, you can use cotton wool, or rolled up tissue, to set your toes apart.
This is the clear base polish that will “hold” the colour on your nail, making it last longer. The layers also help your nail to breathe, so they are minimally affected by the colour. Apply a thin layer of base coat to the whole nail. If you’re new to self-pedicuring or your hand isn’t too steady, leave a tiny gap of around 1mm between the cuticle and the start of the colour. This prevents leaching or smudging onto the nail bed, and gives a neat and tidy finish.
Wait at least 60 seconds for your base coat to dry, and then repeat the process with your colour of choice. Again, leave a 1mm gap at the bottom of your nail, and use a thin layer - this is how you achieve the most even coating with minimal streaks. Thin layers also help the polish to dry quicker. Depending on the thickness of the polish and your desired shade, apply 1-3 thin coats (this will give a much cleaner result than 1 thick one). The more you apply, the darker the colour will be.
When your colour is dry, apply your topcoat as the final step. Follow the same rules as above. Your topcoat will help to protect your colour, while boosting gloss and shine.
If you’ve gone over the lines, no need to worry. Have a small brush on hand to dip in acetone and clear up any smudges or mistakes. If you don’t have a paintbrush at home, you can rinse out an old nail polish, cleaning the brush with acetone.
Finally, when your nails are completely dry, follow up your pedicure with cuticle oil or nail cream. It’s important to keep caring for your nails, and it helps to preserve the colour.