Style and Beauty

Treat your feet

Our step-by-step guide to a pampering home pedicure

By Alison Wood
Treat your feet

Your feet carry a heavy load, especially during pregnancy. They deserve a little respect — and what better way than a pampering home pedicure?

Can’t reach your feet? No worries. Offer to exchange tootsie treatments with a girlfriend; it’s a fun way to spend a lazy weekend afternoon. Or get your guy to do it! This 10-step guide makes it easy. And your feet will look and feel great — even if you can’t see them.

1. Remove polish
Thoroughly clean old polish from nails with a cotton pad (avoid cotton balls as they tend to shred) and a non-drying, acetone-free nail polish remover.

2. Soak
Soak feet in a basin of warm water for five to 10 minutes to soften tough spots and deep clean skin. To help, add a few drops of ordinary dishwashing soap to the water. You can also pour in a ready-made foot soak.

3. Exfoliate
After soaking, rub damp skin with a wooden paddle brush or pumice stone (soaked in the water with your feet to soften) to get rid of callouses and dry spots. “Concentrate on the areas where shoes rub, such as heels, balls and sides of feet, including baby toes,” suggests Charmaine Stephens from Toronto’s Concepts Day Spa. “Look for skin to turn a healthy pink shade.” For extra exfoliation, rub feet with a foot scrub or mix up one of your own out of sugar and olive oil. Rinse and dry feet.

4. File
File nails straight across in one direction with smooth strokes, leaving a short white edge. Round corners slightly so they aren’t sharp, but do not cut into the sides as this can lead to ingrown nails. “The home pedicure is all about the file,” says Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia from Absolute Spa in Vancouver. Instead of metal, which can shred nails, opt for a fine-grain emery board or one with real diamond particles.

5. Cuticles
Soften cuticles with cuticle oil or foot lotion, then gently push back with an orangewood stick (a thin wooden stick slanted at both ends). At the spa, Stephens uses nail scissors to trim the dead skin in front of cuticles — but not into them, as this could lead to infection. A safer home option is sloughing the area with a damp washcloth in small circular motions. Rinse feet.

6. Massage
Massage feet and calves with a rich, moisturizing foot cream. Moisten a cotton pad with nail polish remover and wipe cream from nails so nail polish adheres. Dry toes thoroughly.

7. Basecoat
Weave a tissue between toes or use a toe separator, and then apply one coat of basecoat to prepare nails. “Basecoats help prevent polish from discolouring nails,” explains Natalie Kellar from Haldimand Hills Spa Village in Port Hope, Ont.

8. Polish and topcoat
Brush a thin coat of polish on nails from base to tip, getting as close as possible to edges. Wait a couple of minutes, then apply another coat. Set polish with a topcoat for protection and shine. To speed up the process, look for quick-dry options.

9. Touch up
Dip a cotton swab in nail polish remover and touch up any polish mistakes. Or, try one of the easy-to-hold polish-remover pens. To prevent smudging and nicks, avoid wearing shoes or touching toes for one hour.

10. Maintain
To give your pedicure staying power, Lisogar-Cocchia suggests reapplying topcoat every other day and moisturizing feet often.
Tool Time
The secret to a great home pedicure lies in the tools. Charmaine Stephens, of Concepts Day Spa, suggests laying everything you’ll need on a clean towel so you don’t need to go searching halfway through. When you’re finished, always sanitize tools right away to prevent contamination. Scrub well with a nail brush and antibacterial soap, then lay flat on a paper towel to dry. Store tools in a clean, sealed container.
In order of appearance, here’s what you’ll need:

• cotton pads
• polish remover
• footbath or large bowl
• foot soak
• towel
• pumice stone or wooden paddle brush
• foot scrub
• nail file
• cuticle oil
• orangewood stick
• foot lotion
• tissue or toe separators
• basecoat
• polish
• topcoat
• cotton swab or polish remover pen

This article was originally published on Dec 20, 2005

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