10 Steps to the Perfect Home Pedicure

Whether you view pedicures as an occasional indulgence or a necessity, going to a salon can cost a pretty penny. The good news: a DIY pedi is easy to, ahem, nail. Here's how.

1. Gather everything you'll need in one place. You'll need:

  • Nail polish remover and cotton balls
  • A large bowl or foot-bath filled with warm soapy water
  • Exfoliating foot scrub
  • Pumice stone
  • Foot file
  • Cuticle oil
  • Orange wood stick
  • Bath towel
  • Nail clippers
  • Emery board
  • Foot lotion
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Foam toe spacers
  • Nail polish—base coat, color coat, top coat
  • For hygienic reasons, don't share your clippers, files, or cuticle sticks with other people.

    2. Remove old nail polish with acetone remover and cotton balls.

    3. Soak your feet in warm water and give them a nice, soapy scrub. Use your pumice stone and exfoliating scrub to remove any dry skin and calluses and to remove dirt in cracked skin. For particularly tough or thick calluses, rub a foot file over the area, but never use any sharp objects or blades.

    4. Dry one foot at a time (leaving the other in warm water) and apply cuticle oil at the base of each toenail. Use your orange wood stick to gently push back (but don't clip) cuticles. Use an ultra-fine high grit buffer after pushing back the cuticles to remove the dead skin. It's a safer alternative to cuticle nippers and preps the nail bed for polish.

    5. Clip toenails straight across to desired length and smooth rough edges with an emery board.

    Make sure nail corners aren't sharp as these might cause ingrown toenails. After trimming and shaping each nail, clean out underneath the nail edge with a cuticle stick.

    6. Slather on a thick layer of foot lotion (hand and body lotion work just fine too) and give yourself a nice foot massage.

    7. Apply rubbing alcohol to a cotton swab and remove any lotion on the nails.

    8. Separate toes with foam spacers and smooth on a thin layer of basecoat. Allow to dry for a couple of minutes.

    9. Apply two coats of colored polish, allowing a few minutes of drying time between coats.

    10. Finish with a top-coat and let your nails dry for as long as possible before putting on shoes.

    How to Pick the Perfect Nail Color

    Choosing the right color of polish depends on your personal preferences and skin tones. Popular colors are blues, greens, and natural tones, but reds, corals, and pinks are always in style. It's no longer considered chic to match fingernail and toenail polish so have fun using different colors on each. "Not only is it less important than it used to be to match nail colors on hands and feet, the current trend says it's okay to choose a random contrasting color for one nail on each hand or foot," says Ron White, licensed cosmetologist and co-owner of Amarte, an Aveda concept Salon in Redding, California. "Nail art is also an extremely popular extra touch that is fairly easy to apply. Nail decals of all sorts can be found in stores and online."

    How long will your pedicure last? That depends on how tough you are on your feet and what styles of footwear you wear, but most people can go at least a week or two between pedicures.

    Craig Kraffert, MD, and Ron White, licensed cosmetologist, reviewed this article.