It might be difficult to get to a nail salon, but that shouldn't stop you from doing your own nails in the comfort of your own home. Sure, you may not be a professional, but thankfully, the nail artists you depend on for perfect mani-pedis are providing guidance online now more than ever, thanks to social media. Bustle spoke with nail experts about how to give yourself an at-home pedicure, and while you may not get the relaxing massage you're used to, you can make sure they look good enough for sandal season.
The good news about doing a pedicure at home is that unlike manicures, where you may need to remove gel or acrylic nails beforehand, most people don't opt for these items on their toes. While you may need to remove some latent nail polish, getting your feet pedi-ready could be markedly easier than your at-home manicure.
Plus, just like the time you take to do an at-home manicure or at-home facial, your new pedicure routine can act as a means of self-care during this often frightful time. Just like your weekly or biweekly visits to the salon, taking time to give yourself a pedicure at home isn't just a beauty moment, it's a self-care one as well.
If you want to learn how to give yourself the best at-home pedicure, here are some expert tips.
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1. Remove Existing Polish
The first step in your at-home pedicure may be the most obvious: remove any existing polish. Kelly Montesino, consulting nail artist with ORLY, recommends the brand's Genius Remove which helps to remove nearly all forms of polish including gel and glitter.
2. Soak Your Feet
Wellness nail care brand Sundays founder Amy Lin recommends soaking your feet before beginning your pedicure. Even if you don't have a foot tub, you can use your typical bath tub or whatever you have on hand. She explains that you can use a sea salt soak for 5-10 minutes to help soften both the feet and cuticles.
Lin also recommends using this time for self-care. "You can also add a eucalyptus essential oil to your foot bath to help with minor itching or discomfort of the feet," she advises. Lin also recommends turning on some music or a guided meditation to make your self-care even more enjoyable. "You can also light some candles for a complete salon experience," she adds.
3. Use A Foot File
While not necessary for everyone, ZOYA's creative director Rebecca Isa recommends a foot scrub if you feet need a bit more love. She tells Bustle, "It's not necessarily required but if your feet need more love, I would recommend doing some sort of foot scrub to help even out any last few rough spots."
It's a sentiment that Sunday's Lin also echoes. After your feet are dry, Lin recommends using a foot file mixed with body scrub to remove any dead skin (if you don't have a foot file, you may use a nail file). However, make sure that you don’t over-file your callus on your feet, as this might make your skin rougher, warns Lin.
4. Care For Your Cuticles & Shape The Nail
Just like your at-home manicure, a pedi also requires cuticle care and nail-shaping. To do so, Lin suggests first shaping and buffing your nails and then adding your cuticle serum. Once this is done, use a wooden stick to lightly push back your cuticles. Then, remove any dead skin around the cuticle using the wooden stick. "It’s best to use a wooden stick as it is more gentle than mental ones," says Lin.
Montesino adds that if you have hangnails or protruding skin, snip it gently with a cuticle nipper.
If you need tips on best practices for filing, Isa tells Bustle you should be filing in an "upward motion from underneath the nail to remove any stubborn residue."
Lin, Montesino, and Isa all recommend moisturizing your feet and legs after your cuticle care and filing. All recommend drying off and then applying a moisturizer of your choice.
6. Clean The Nail Bed
Before you begin the process of painting your nails, Montesino explains that your nail bed needs to be clean and oil-free in order for polish to adhere as close as possible. "Use a lint-free wipe and either alcohol or nail polish remover to thoroughly cleanse the nail plate. You want to remove oil from the surface of the nail," she says.
7. Paint Your Nails
The final step in your at-home pedicure is painting your nails. But before you do, set yourself up for success. Use a toe separator or a paper napkin to separate your toes, just like they would at a salon, says Lin. Then, grab a base and top coat, as well as your polish of choice.
"Don't forget to add a base coat before the nail polish application and top coat after the nail polish application. Base and top coat are super important because they keep your nails healthy and your polish last longer," says Lin.
As for painting your toes, Montesino says that the trick is to work in thin layers. "Apply your nail polish with minimum strokes," she shares.