It’s like a scene from a horror film. The setting is late winter/early spring, Pilates class. There are four other people in the class. Your instructor arrives and asks everyone to remove their shoes. Trembling, you do as your told. You attempt to be as discrete as possible, but the chipped polish and cracked, pasty-white skin announce to the room that your feet haven’t seen the light of day since August. Your classmates glare at you.
Just because pedicures are expensive, it doesn’t mean your nightmare has to become a reality. The winter is harsh on the feet, but with sandal season quickly approaching, you can give yourself a perfectly-affordable pedi whenever you want.
Step 1: Prepare the Feet
- Lint-free cotton pads
- Nail polish remover
- Toenail clippers
- Emery board
Start by removing the remnants of last summer’s nailpolish with some nail polish remover and a cotton pad (cotton balls leave fuzzies behind). Acetone and alcohol-based removers are best for removing dark polishes. Then, clip your toenails in a straight line until they are just above the skin. Use the gritty side of an emery board to do some shaping, and the soft side to smooth the edges.
Step 2: Soak
- A large bowl
- Bath salts
- Warm water
- 1/4 cup milk
Fill a large bowl with warm to hot water from the bathtub. Add some bath salts and 1/4 cup of milk — yes, it sounds odd, but milk helps to loosen dead skin! Soak for at least 10 minutes, longer if you have callousing or cracked skin.
Step 3: Cuticle Care
- Cuticle remover formula (try Sally Hansen)
- Orangewood sticks (can be purchased at the drugstore) or cuticle nippers
Everything you need can be purchased at your local drugstore. Apply a cuticle remover to the skin around your nails and let it soak in for a minute or two. Then, use orangewood sticks to gently push skin away from the nail. Cuticle nippers are great for dead skin, but only use them if you’re confident you won’t cut yourself.
Step 4: Back in the Bath!
- Foot scrub — can be made from sugar and oil, or purchased
- Foot file or pumice stone
- Heavy-duty foot lotion
Dip your feet back in the bath, then apply a sugar scrub or foot scrub to your pumice stone or foot file. Slough away at your feet, especially at the balls and heels where callouses tend to form. If you feel pain, you’re using too much force. Then, rinse the scrub from your feet, dry them with a warm towel, and generously apply a thick moisturizer while giving your feet and calves a massage.
Step 5: Polish
- Base coat
- Top coat
- Nail color of choice
Go over your nails with nail polish remover once again in order to get any oils from the lotion off of them. Apply a thin layer of base coat in three strokes: one down the middle, then one down each side, avoiding the cuticle. After the base coat dries (which should only take two minutes), add two coats of your favorite nail polish in the same three-stroke fashion. Be sure to choose a color that will look amazing in all your sexy heels or summer sandals! Then add a top coat and allow your feet to dry for 40 minutes.