Summer is here which means it’s time for flip flops and bare feet. Even though we’ve likely all been spending a bit more time indoors this summer and had a little less pampering at the salon, it doesn’t mean we have to totally neglect our feet. Don’t sacrifice the luxury of having soft feet and pretty toes!
Let’s face it, nothing can replace being pampered at the salon, but if you can’t get to the salon or want to save a couple extra bucks, doing one at home can be just as fun and easy! It might be a little daunting if you’ve never done one before, but once you know the ropes, you’ll enjoy this nurturing form of self-care. Here’s what you need to do to enjoy a homemade spa experience.
Why Do An At-Home Pedi?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the chemicals found in glues, polishes, removers and other salon products can harm your health. These side effects include cancer and reproductive concerns — not a price many would willingly pay for sparkly toes.
You’ll benefit your microbiome and the environment by being able to pick your own natural products to use at home. For example, you can moisturize your cuticles with MCT oil, which reduces your risk of fungal infections. You can also add a few drops of lavender aromatherapy oil to a mister and play relaxing binaural beats to soothe the rest of your body.
If you feel uncomfortable with someone else touching your feet, having a stranger do so can exacerbate your anxiety. Such conditions hardly make for a relaxing spa experience, but letting a trusted partner or family member touch your tootsies helps you get over the tickle response.
Finally, giving yourself a pedicure at home saves you considerable cash. Once you factor in gratuity and that latte that you have to sip while in the chair, one treatment can cost over $50. Conversely, you can buy a quality bottle of natural nail polish for less than $10, and it lasts for several applications.
Here’s how to get started…
Prepare Your Supplies
Here’s a shortlist of what you’ll need. This can all be customized to suit your personal preferences.
- Foot Bath or Tub: If you don’t want to spring for an electronic model, use a clean, unused kitty litter tray.
- Pumice Stone or Sloughing Tool: Pumice works fine for removing calluses, but if you have arthritis, a device with a handle makes the chore more comfortable.
- Clippers, a File and an Emery Board: The clippers and file are to shorten and shape the nail and the emery board will help remove any dead skin.
- Nail Polish Remover: While it might be tempting, picking at old nail polish can damage the nail.
- Nail Polish: Even just a clear coat evens nail texture and gives a healthy shine. For those that prefer a color, always use a base to prevent stains and a top layer to avoid chips.
Set the Mood
The top spas know that atmosphere matters which is why they go out of their way to engage all five senses. Do the same at home. Put on some relaxing music and dim the lights. Add relaxing oils like chamomile or bergamot to your aromatherapy diffuser, and surround yourself with comfy pillows. Take a deep breath and mentally say “relax” as you exhale to center yourself.
Start with a Soak
To make dry, cracked skin less painful to remove, you need to soften it by starting with a soak. Set a timer for at least 10 minutes and add some Epsom salts or tea bags to make the waters more healing. If you want to be uber-fancy, sprinkle some rose petals in the basin.
Trim Troublesome Nails
You need to keep your toenails trimmed, and unless you enjoy torture, you should do so in a way that prevents ingrown nails. A square shape encourages your nails to grow upward instead of carving grooves into your flesh. However, if you find that this shape causes you to tear holes in your sock’s tips, it’s OK to round the edges slightly.
Sometimes, you might have a nail that resists standard trimmers. This thickness often occurs after an injury, such as dropping something heavy on your bare foot. Don’t try to battle with blunt devices. Invest in salon-quality clippers to tackle the toughest tootsie-toppers.
Clean Out Dirt
Use an orangewood stick with a sharp point to gently coax dirt from under your nails. It’s critical to avoid pushing too hard, as excess pressure can create a small separation between your nail and bed, where bacteria can enter your bloodstream.
Slough Away Dry Skin
Once your tired tootsies have enjoyed their soak, get out your pumice stone and begin sloughing that dead, cracked skin to reveal the baby smooth stuff underneath. You can also use a foot file and a few drops of tea tree oil — it’s a natural antifungal and antiseptic.
If your feet still feel a bit rough, think about how you sand wood with progressively finer-grained paper. Whip up a batch of homemade foot scrub with sea salt and essential oils to go over your heels once you finish with the pumice stone.
Treat Troubled Spots
An advantage of at-home pedicures is that you can treat issues like plantar warts naturally. Anecdotal reports indicate that Zijiding, a Chinese herb mixed with vinegar, heals this condition while preventing relapses.
If you spend a lot of time doing high-impact activities, the muscles and connective tissues in your feet can get sore. Plantar fasciitis occurs when small tears inflame your fascia, which holds your foot together. You can learn how to stretch this region while you give your tootsies a much-needed massage.
Cut Ragged Cuticles
If you ever had a hangnail, you know that biting at it will make the stinging pain worse. To avoid these, push back and trim your cuticles. Use a well-sharpened tool to avoid leaving ragged edges that can segue into excruciating nuisances.
Buff to Shine
If you bought a pedicure kit, you might have noticed a spongy little block with various grains of sandpaper attached to the edges. Use this to smooth out the surfaces of your nails. While you’re at it, pay attention to the texture. Deep grooves in your nails can indicate anemia — make an appointment with your doctor for a blood test.
Slather on Moisturizer
You typically reach for a bottle of lotion when your skin starts to feel tight or flaky. However, a lack of moisture can also cause your nails to become brittle and crack, sometimes painfully. Dermatologists recommend rubbing vitamin E into your cuticles at night to keep them supple.
As you rub in the lotion, take advantage of the opportunity to give yourself a massage. If you run, having your partner rub your calves can feel better than more intimate encounters. Are you concerned about the chemicals in commercial products? You can make homemade moisturizer by using coconut oil as a base and scenting it with your favorite essential oils.
Do a Base Coat
If you adore dark colors like blues and purples, a quality base coat is a must to prevent staining. Otherwise, your nails will resemble Easter eggs long after you remove your polish.
While you can camouflage lighter tones more readily, a solid base does more than prevent stains. It helps even out the nail surface so your color adheres more smoothly. Bumps make it challenging to add fun nail art details like flowers if you have a steady hand and creative bent.
Have Fun With Colors
If you always felt like you improved your mood by giving yourself a pedi, you aren’t imagining things. Color influences human emotions and behaviors. Why not coordinate your color choices to reflect your inner landscape?
- Red: In holistic healing, this color stimulates the body and increases your circulation. It also makes you react with improved speed and force and may make you feel more assertive. It’s the perfect color choice for before your next job interview — even though they won’t see your confident piggies.
- Blue: In the natural healing world, this shade soothes illnesses and treats pain. Anecdotal evidence indicates that this hue can help reduce crime rates by promoting calm. Choose this color family if you can’t seem to unwind.
- Yellow: While yellow alone isn’t as frequently seen as some other nail colors, it indicates a happy and carefree attitude. In holistic circles, practitioners believe it stimulates the nervous system and purifies your body. Consider hues with yellow undertones — like creamy peach shades — to appear more positive, balanced and playful.