Steps for DIY a Great Pedicure

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Even if you know the workers in your local salon are paid a fair wage, there’s lots of other reasons to do your own pedicures at home. Maybe you’re on a tight budget, or maybe you just don’t enjoy having a stranger getting that up close and personal with your feet. Whatever the case, every woman should know how to give herself a wonderful pedicure from the comfort of her own home. Just follow these easy steps for an amazing DIY pedicure; your feet will be sandal-ready in no time!

Treat Yourself to an At-Home Pedi

Painted toes and flip flops

Giving yourself a professional pedicure is an eight-step process. It's a great way to treat yourself to a spa-like experience without the extra cost. With a soothing foot soak and rejuvenating scrub and beautifully applied nail polish, your at-home pedicure can be as posh as any nail salon.

Gather Your Supplies

Before you begin, be sure to gather all of your supplies. It will make the process easier to have everything by your side so you don't have to run around the house.

  • Nail polish remover
  • Cotton balls or lint-free cotton pads
  • Nail clippers
  • Emory board
  • Large bowl, water, and salts for soaking
  • Cuticle remover or mineral oil or olive oil
  • Orange stick or cuticle pusher
  • Cuticle nippers (optional)
  • Foot file or pumice stone
  • Moisturizer
  • Nail polish, base coat, and top coat
  • Speed setting spray

Remove Polish

At home pedicure

The first step to a great pedicure is to remove any old polish from your nails. You will need some cotton and a nail polish remover, and some are better than others.

The Cotton and Remover

Instead of cotton balls, which will leave fuzzies, try using a lint-free cotton pad. Miss Webril cotton pads are great. A beauty editor favorite is  Lippmann Collection's The Stripper To Go, which are nail polish remover pads you can carry around with you.

Alcohol- and acetone-free nail polish removers will not dry your nails as much, but they don't work as well, especially for dark shades. Use these only on lighter nail polish shades. A product like Sally Hansen Extra Strength Remover is a much better choice for any color.

Remove Old Polish

Saturate the cotton pad with a polish remover and rub off the old polish. If the color doesn't come off easily, press the saturated cotton on the nail and let it soak in for a few seconds.

If you have stains on your nails, remove them with lemon juice or a peroxide toothpaste.

Cut and File Nails

At home pedicure

With clean nails, it's time to give them a trim. It's best to use high-quality clippers made specifically for clipping toenails, such as Tweezerman Deluxe Toenail Clippers.

Nail Cutting Tips

To avoid ingrown nails, cut your toenails straight across to just above the skin. Make sure your nail doesn't extend over the tip of your toe. Don't clip the sides of nails, which can cause them to become ingrown.

To get a soft square shape, file nails in one direction until they are even and slightly rounded at the corners.

It's best not to use metal files because they can rip your nails. Basic emery boards work great. The fine-grade surface is for smoothing the nail edge, while the coarser surface is for shortening and shaping nails.

If you want to go pro, try the Mehaz Ingrown Toenail File, which allows you to easily lift nail corners for shaping. 

Soak Your Feet

Foot soaker

Next, you'll want to give your feet a soothing soak. It will soften the skin in preparation for the next steps and offers a little time to just relax.

At-Home Foot Soak

Fill a large bowl with warm water. Toss in bath salts, your favorite aromatherapy oils, or Epsom salt and soak your feet for 10 minutes. The more cracked and calloused your feet are, the longer they should stay in.

Pro Tip

The trick to a spa-quality foot soak is to add a quarter cup of milk to your bath along with the essential oils and salts. The lactic acid in the milk loosens dead skin.

Take Care of Cuticles

Nail tools

While your skin is soft, you can make easy work of cleaning up your cuticles. It should only take a couple minutes and is a foundation for great looking polish.

Touch up Your Cuticles

Apply cuticle remover to the base of each nail and rub it in. Sally Hansen Cuticle Remover is a basic remover that works great and is reasonably priced. If you don't have cuticle remover, try mineral oil or olive oil.

Leave the cuticle remover on for a minute, then use an orangewood stick or cuticle pusher (the Tweezerman works as well) to gently push with a circular motion in the spots where the skin meets the nail. Don't forget about the sides. Be careful to remove skin only on top of the nail, don't touch the toe flesh.

If you are confident that you won't cut yourself, you can use cuticle nippers (Mehaz Cuticle best) to trim any loose skin. However, it's often best to just leave your cuticles be.

Scrub Your Feet

Foor scrub

You'll then want to get rid of any dead skin on your feet. This can really build up during the summer if you wear sandals a lot because you're exposing your skin to many harsh elements in the environment.

For this step, you will need a foot file or pumice stone. You can buy pumice stones at your local drugstore. Cuccio Earth Lava Pumice Stone is a top choice, but a ceramic foot file is also really nice.

A Good Foot Scrub

Apply an exfoliating scrub, such as Tree Hut Peppermint, to a foot file or wet pumice stone. Scrub the balls, bottoms, and sides of your heels and around your toes. To get the most leverage, sit on the side of a bathtub, facing inward. 

A great pedicure motto is: "smooth, don't remove." You want to stop if your foot turns bright red, which means that you've scrubbed too hard. Remember that tough skin is there for a reason. It protects your feet, which are subject to a lot of abuse.

Moisturize Thoroughly

Woman applying lotion

Finish your foot treatment with a good moisturizer. This will help your skin recover from the scrubbing and it is a nice, relaxing time for a little massage.

Massage and Moisturize

Dry your feet thoroughly, including between the toes. Rub in a thick moisturizer or foot cream, such as the beauty editor favorite Barielle Total Foot Care Cream. Massage the moisturizer into your feet and calves. You can go all out and rehydrate cuticles by rubbing in a dab of cuticle oil as well.

Polish Toes

WOman applying nail polish on toes

It's time for color, so grab your favorite nail polish. Take your time and don't use too much polish at once. Your toenails are so small that a little bit goes a long way.

Flawless Painted Nails

Use acetone remover to get rid of any excess oils on the nails.

Apply a thin base coat, such as OPI base coat, using three strokes: one down the middle and one on each side. Don't paint the cuticle.

Wait a minute before adding two coats of your favorite nail polish. Use any polish that remains on the brush to cover the front edge of each nail. This simple step prevents chipping.

Finish with a thin top coat such as quick-drying Seche Vite. Clean up any errors with an orangewood stick wrapped in cotton and dipped in polish remover. Let your nails dry for at least 40 minutes.

Finish Your Pedicure

Painted toes and flip flops

After your nails have dried, you can really go all out and spritz them with a moisturizing oil like Solar Speed spray. This will set your polish while moisturizing your cuticles.