Pedicures 101: Six Steps to Pretty Feet

feet2There are few beauty rituals I enjoy more than the pedicure. Going to a salon and having a professional pamper your feet is incredibly relaxing, and you leave with a frequently abused and overlooked part of your body feeling refreshed and healthy. Not to mention the fact that freshly-pedicured feet look lovely and well-groomed. It doesn’t matter how disheveled the rest of me is; when my heels are smooth and my toes are newly painted, I feel like I’ve got it together.

Unfortunately, I frequently do not have the time or money to spend on a salon pedicure. Plus, given how easy it is for me to reproduce a salon-quality pedicure at home, I have a hard time justifying the expense most of the time. The good news is, even when I do the job by myself I still feel amazing. So, just in time for sandal season, here’s your six-step guide to a perfect at-home pedicure. (Please note: this guide assumes that you’ve trimmed your nails and removed any old polish before starting.)

1. Soak your feet in warm water. I usually use water that’s quite hot. To me, it adds to the relaxing feel. If you have Epsom salts, scented oil or a nice foot soak, feel free to throw it in. If not, plain ol’ H2O will work. I generally soak for about five to ten minutes.

2. Scrub your feet all over with a specialized foot scrub. I’ve long been a fan of Freeman’s Bare Foot line, and their Creamy Pumice Foot Scrub in Peppermint and Plum works wonderfully. Rub it all over the bottoms and tops of your feet, paying special attention to your heels and anywhere else you may have rough spots.

3. Scrape away dead skin. Okay, this is the gross part but I promise it’s the most effective way to get rid of dragon feet. While your foot is still covered in foot scrub, use your fingernails to scrape dead skin off your foot, once again spending extra time on your heels and/or rough spots. When you’re done, rinse your feet (and hands!).

4. Slather a thick lotion or, better yet, specifically formulated foot cream all over feet, toes and ankles. I swear by Ahava foot creams. Let it soak in for at least five minutes.

5. Swipe nail polish remover over each toenail. Depending on the thickness of the lotion you used, you may want to do this twice. The goal is to remove all traces of product and oils so that your nail polish will glide on easily and stick to your nails.

6. Select a fun shade of polish and paint on a coat or two. Right now I’m loving hot pinks, like Ruby Wing Color Changing Nail Polish in Poppy (shown).

Foot Fetish

It seems like most people either love feet or hate them. I know people who grimace at the mere mention of toes. I know others that live to flaunt their peds and accessorize them with sexy sandals, jewelry, and polish. And we all know that some people really love feet. Scandalous foot fetish videos, hilarious Sex and the City reruns, and creepy rumors keep us all aware of that fact.

Regardless of your personal stance on feet, I think we all can agree that we want ours to look nice. For some reason, being told I have pretty feet is a particularly confidence-boosting compliment.

If your feet are in really bad shape, get thee to a nail salon and get yourself a pedicure. If, like me, you just need a little maintenance to get yourself sandal-ready, here are some tips to keep your feet looking ridiculously pretty:

1. Trim your nails. Having talon-like toenails is sure to perpetuate the feet-are-ugly myth and will turn off even the most hardcore fetishist. Keep your nails trimmed, straight across, and on the short side.

2. Scrub-a-dub-dub. A good foot scrub is key to having soft, delicate-looking soles. I recommend giving yourself a foot soak once a week. After soaking your feet for 5 to 10 minutes in hot water (foot soak or salt optional), pat them dry and scrub them with a generous dollop of foot scrub. Right now I’m using Toe the Line, from the Bath & Body Works True Blue Spa line. Massage the scrub into your feet, paying extra attention to especially dry areas. I find using my fingernails to scrape off dead skin is the most effective way to get my feet soft and smooth – it’s kinda gross, but it really, really works.

3. Lotion up. Feet need extra moisture to keep them smooth. I follow every foot scrub with a healthy dose of foot cream. Bliss Foot Patrol contains aloe and peppermint and leaves freshly scrubbed feet feeling tingly and rejuvenated. To keep my feet soft between scrubs, I slather on a thick foot cream each night before bed. I’m currently obsessed with Ahava Dermud Enriched Intensive Foot Cream. It has a sweet scent and my feet still feel moisturized when I wake up. An alternative: try moisturizing gel socks. My grandmother, who appreciates a pretty foot as much as I do, gave me a pair for my birthday. The insides of these little gems are coated with a softening gel, and while it feels weird to slide your feet into a little gel sleeve, just 20 minutes gets your feet surprisingly smooth.

4. Pick a pretty paint. In the heat of summer I tend to spice up my pedicure with hot pink polish, but when I’m just trying to get pretty feet, I like soft nude shades. They look clean, lovely, and sophisticated. I’m still hooked on Essie nail color in Innocent, a soft nude pink, but I occasionally switch it out for Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Peachy Keen, a one-step light peach (it looks great on hands, too).