Salon Savvy: How to Give Yourself a Pedicure

Warm weather and sandal season mean your toes need to be in tip-top shape. Whether you've been neglecting your feet or just want to give them a little extra pampering, there is good news: You can give yourself a salon-quality pedicure without having to break the bank paying salon-worthy prices.

In just 10 simple (and relaxing!) steps, your piggies will be on their way to their happy, pretty place in no time!

Step 1: Remove Old Polish

Use a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover to remove all old nail polish, paying special attention to remove any in the creases. You want a clean, fresh nail to start.

Step 2: Clip, File and Shape

Using toenail clippers, carefully cut your toenails so they are an even length, holding the clippers at the same angle the whole time.

Then use a nail file positioned just under the nail to file rough edges slowly. Shape the corners to your preference – either square or more rounded. If you choose a rounded shape, however, beware: The shape can make you more susceptible to developing painful ingrown toenails.

3. Soak and Relax

Fill a tub with warm water and add Epsom salts and your favorite aromatic oils or a ready-made beauty bath soak from your local bath and body store. Sit back and relax for five minutes, letting your skin soften and your mind melt a little bit.

4. Care for Your Cuticles

Once your feet have soaked, your cuticles will be soft and pliable. Apply cuticle remover oil and let it sit for a minute or two, then use an orangewood stick to push back your cuticles to the nail bed gently. Salons often clip cuticles, but this is not recommended and can do more damage than good. Also, it's healthier for them to leave them intact.

5. Lose the Calluses

If you walk barefoot often or just have rough, scaly feet, take the extra step to scrub hardened or cracked areas with a callus remover. Doing this will help more and more over time. Don't overdo it all at once, or your feet may feel raw and uncomfortable to walk on. If your foot starts to look red or irritated, stop. A good rule of thumb here is: "Smooth, don't remove."

6. Scrub and Exfoliate

Use a foot scrub to rub your feet and calves in a circular motion to smooth and invigorate your skin. You can buy many different kinds of foot scrubs at the store, but in keeping with the DIY theme, here is a simple recipe for a deliciously scented foot scrub you can make yourself!

1 cup coarse kosher salt
½ cup coconut oil
A few drops of coconut essential oil (or your favorite scent) 

Combine all ingredients in a small container, stir them up and you're ready to apply! Bonus: This also makes a wonderful gift for your beauty-loving friends!

7. Moisturize

Now that your feet are smooth as a baby's tush, it's time to lock in that smoothness with plenty of moisture. Generously slather on your favorite cream moisturizer and rub it into your feet and calves. There's no reason to keep this pampering to just your feet!

8. Prep for Painting

Before applying polish, remove any oils and residue from your nails themselves so that your polish stays put. Use a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover to swipe across each nail to get them clean and bare.

9. Polish Pretty

Apply one coat of basecoat polish and let dry. You can find many options for this at drugstores, beauty stores and online. Note: Clear polish is not the same as basecoat or topcoat polish – they are actually all different formulas!

After the basecoat dries, apply two coats of your favorite nail polish, allowing them to dry in between. (Pro polish picking tip: Anything with glitter will last longer. Sparkle doesn't come off as easily.)

Apply a clear top coat to seal the deal. All top coats are not created equally! Of all the layers, this is the most important and worth investing in a quality product from your local beauty supply store. This is what will help your pedicure stay fresh and not chip or peel after just a couple days. Be sure to cover the tips well to seal in color.

10. Maintain Your Pedicure

It doesn't take much to keep your polish looking pretty, but there are a couple things you can do to extend the life of your pedicure.

  • ·Apply a fresh layer of top coat every couple of days to keep the polish looking shiny and fresh. Over time, with soap and wear, polish becomes dull. But this will keep it looking like you just got you nails done day after day!
  • ·Stay moisturized. Before bed each night, use your favorite moisturizer and sleep with socks on to lock it all in. This will help keep your feet soft and battle stubborn hard or cracked skin.
  • ·Wear open-toed or round-toe shoes. This may seem like a no-brainer, but there's not bigger enemy against your piggies than tight, pointy shoes or the rough insides of over-worn pumps or boots. Avoid unnecessary toenail friction by showing off your pedicure in strappy sandals instead!

The Benefits of a DIY Pedicure

Giving yourself a pedicure may seem like a bit of work, but if you take the time to enjoy it and think of it as pampering yourself, you'll not only be saving money, but also protecting yourself against any of the possible ickies that can sometimes be caught at nail salons. If proper sanitation procedures aren't followed there, you can end up with bacterial or fungal infections.

It's also a good idea to give yourself a "buff-only" pedicure every few times to let your nails breathe. Fungus grows in dark places, and constantly having your nails polished means they can't breathe and heal. A week of bare nails can help keep your toes healthy and even prettier for the next time you polish!