It’s always nice to give your toes a once over before breaking them out of hibernation (and breaking out the sandals). But, if you can’t make it to the salon for a pedicure, don’t worry—doing it yourself is easier than you think. We asked Julia Bautista, founder of Naked Beauty Bar in Toronto, to share her best tips on how to master the at-home pedicure. Trust us: Your feet will never have looked better.
These are the tools you need for a pedicure at home
First, prep your at-home station, Bautista says. These are the must-haves she recommends having on hand.
- Basin (or bathtub)
- 1 tbsp (if using a basin) or 1 cup (if using a bathtub) Epsom salt or bath salt (dead sea salt)
- 2-3 drops of essential oils of your choice
- Foot file or pumice stone
- Body scrub
- Foot cream or body butter/cream
- Cuticle oil
- Nail kit which includes nail clippers, cuticle nipper, cuticle pusher and a nail file
- Toe separators
- Acetone or nail polish remover
- Cotton pads
- Polish: base coat, top coat and the colour of your choice
The best nail polish remover for a pedicure
“Acetone, not polish remover, is your best friend. You can purchase 100 percent acetone at the drugstore,” says Bautista. She likes the Quo acetone remover, available at Shoppers Drug Mart. “It gets rid of all the most stubborn colours, quick!” (Acetone cuts out the scrubbing—it takes away colour in a single swipe.) “For tough-to-remove polish, like sparkles or glitter, you can soak a cotton ball with acetone, and place it on top of the entire nail plate. Wrap it up with a piece of foil for about a minute or two. The acetone will break down the polish, allowing you to simply wipe it off,” she continues.
How to prepare your feet for a pedicure
“Fill your basin or tub with warm water and add the Epsom or bath salt and essential oils of your choice,” she recommends. Epsom salt helps freshen up odorous feet (a must if you have sweaty feet). Bautista recommends trying tea tree oil for its antiseptic properties, chamomile as an anti-inflammatory or eucalyptus to relieve aches and pains. “Soak for 3-5 minutes to allow for your calluses to soften.”
How to get rid of rough skin on your heels
“Pumice stones are great because they’re natural, or a wooden foot file,” says Bautista. And although you will be the only one only using it, she stresses the importance of cleaning your buffer of choice after every use to keep it sanitary. “Exfoliating is a perfect way to remove dead skin, provide moisture, and smoothen out the bottoms of your feet,” says Bautista. “Focus on the heels and balls of your feet and [any other] trouble areas. Also don’t forget in-between your toes!” After, apply your favourite foot cream or body butter.
Consider a foot mask
A foot mask can do wonders for flaky, tired feet. “To combat dry heels, look for one with moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, or olive oil.” If you’re going to incorporate the foot mask into your pedi, Bautista recommends using it after you remove your calluses and before putting on polish.
How to cut and shape your toenails
“Cut down your nails and shape them to your liking,” says Bautista. “Consider cutting toe nails straight across and softening out the edges using your nail file to avoid developing in-grown nails.” After you’ve trimmed the nails, apply a little bit of cuticle oil on and around your nails.
Prep your toenails for nail polish
After your nails are all cleaned and buffed, Bautista recommends soaking a cotton pad with acetone or polish remover and wiping your nail plate to remove every last bit of cuticle oil. Next, put on your toe separators. If don’t have toe separators handy, Bautista suggests rolling up a sheet of paper towel and weaving it in between your toes.
Don’t forget a base coat
“For a long-lasting and professional-looking pedicure, make sure you use a base coat to ensure the longevity of your polish, plus a top coat for gloss and shine.”
The best way to apply toenail polish
When applying colour, Bautista says that thin layers are best. Wait one minute in-between coats. “Thin layers are important because 1) it’s how you achieve an even, non-streaky finish and 2) it speeds up the drying time. Depending on the polish coverage, 2-3 thin coats should typically do the trick,” she says. Finish off with a clear top coat and another application of cuticle oil once it’s dry.
How to fix mistakes
Mistakes happen. Thankfully Bautista has an easy fix if you happen to colour outside the lines. “Use a small paint brush to clean up around the edges or when you get polish on your skin. It’s super helpful in getting precise with your polish.”
How to tend to your cuticles
To make sure your pedi goes the distance, keep your cuticles moisturized with oil or cream. “It will help with the health of your nails as well as extend the life of your paint job,” says Bautista.