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Illustration for article titled It’s Time to Learn How to Do Pedicure at Home (Yup, You Too Bro)
Image: Bernard Hermant (Unsplash)

Recently, one of my group chats devolved into an almost day-long lament about the state of our collective feet. Oh, it was grim. If the state of your feet is equally as troubling, it’s time to learn how to do a pedicure at home. It’s not so hard, really! And also, it feels quite nice.

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Pedicures are a thing many consider a little luxury. But also, you know, your toenails need to be cleaned and trimmed, your heels are a wreck, and your feet probably are a little achy just from, like, life. I say that to say this: Don’t skip the part where you treat your feet to a little soak when you do a pedicure at home. It feels nice, and you deserve that, but the soaking also serves a purpose in that it preps your feet for the work that’s about to be done to them.

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You can soak your feet in a tub filled with shallow water, or use a large bowl, bucket or dish basin for the job. But, since it looks like salons won’t be open for a while (and dicey to patronize even if they are open), this is the time to splurge on a foot spa, if that’s something you’ve been eying.

A reasonably priced, basic foot spa that soaks and massages your feet will be the right choice for most people.

But souped-up versions are available!

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If all of that seems a bit much, a no-frills foot soaking tub is for you.

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Either way, use a foot soak to elevate the experience. Tea tree oil soaks are especially good for people with athlete’s foot or other fungal infections.

There are also salt soaks formulated to ease achy, tired feet.

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One of the benefits of making soaking your feet part of doing a pedicure at home, in addition to just feeling great, is that it softens and loosens up dead, hardened skin, making it easier to remove. There are loads of ways to treat dead skin, and your product or tool of choice depends on what you’ve got to work with. If your feet are in pretty good shape, you’ll be fine to just use an exfoliating scrub.

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If your feet are afflicted by calluses or cracked heels, take exfoliating a step further by using a pumice stone or file.

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After soaking your feet, dry them, and turn your attention to your toenails. Clip the nails and shape the corners and edges with a file to prevent ingrown nails. Then, use a nail buffer to smooth out ridges — this is especially important if part of doing a pedicure at home will include painting the nails, as it will allow the polish to go on smoother.

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After you’ve clipped, filed and buffed, clean dirt and dead skin out from under the nail and around the cuticle using a two-sided cuticle pusher and spoon nail cleaner.

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Much like the soaking step, you may be tempted to skip giving your feet, ankles, and calves a gentle (or firm! I don’t know your body and its preferences!) massage with lotion but don’t! I mean, it feels great and that’s enough reason to do it. But also using a good, thick foot cream and applying a bit of cuticle oil to your nailbeds will lock in moisture and treat dry skin, preventing painful peeling and cracking.

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If, after treating your feet to a spa day, you also would like to paint your toenails, this is the point at which you would do so. Here are some tips:

  • Start with clean, dry nails. The polish will go on wonky if residue from the moisturizers and oils you used is left behind.
  • Use toe separators to make applying polish easier.
  • Don’t skip base and top coats — using a base coat helps the polish go on smoother, and a top coat will protect it from chipping
  • Once your polish is fully dry, you can do some clean up, if needed. Use an eye makeup brush dipped in polish remover to quickly and easily get rid of polish left behind by errant brush strokes or cuticle flooding.
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Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person

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