Even at the best of times, feet are hardly the most glamorous of body parts. Not to mention the fact that we currently have no way of getting a professional pedicure done because of lockdown restrictions.
In any case, sorting out neglected toes isn’t just a cosmetic endeavour, it’s also a chance to check if your feet are in good health and can be a soul-soothing, therapeutic ritual too.
Dry, cracked skin is a common bugbear, and when you consider that the heels and balls of your feet spend all day rubbing back and forth against shoes – or slippers as the case may be – while supporting your entire body weight, it’s no surprise that hard areas build up pretty fast.
Raggedy cuticles and overgrown nails with the remnants of your last pedicure are another dead giveaway that your feet are more than a little bit attention-starved. But with some TLC and a selection of great tools, you can get salon calibre nails at home with one eye on Netflix if you fancy.
Read on for every tip and product you need – you’ll be looking down at your pedi with pride in no time.
Ultimate home pedicure prep: Peel
If your pedicure needs aren’t urgent, prep one week in advance with Skin Republic Foot Peel Foot Masl, R120 for a pair, which will do away with dry skin and require zero effort.
Simply pop them on for about 90-minutes while you watch TV, then remove and wait.
Within the next week or so a good proportion of the very hardest skin on your feet will disjoin itself, peel and flake off.
Obviously this wouldn’t be an ideal scenario if you were going out and about with your toes on show, but on your own at home? It’s just perfect and fascinating to observe.
How To Get The Ultimate At-Home Pedicure
Step 1: File
Tackle any residual build-up that the peel didn’t remove. There’s a number of fancy gadgets out there promising to burr away hard skin with minimal effort, but a good foot file does the trick, too. Give the nifty Clicks Hard Skin Reducer, R54,99, a try.
Always file feet when they’re dry and inspect your work every few minutes to ensure you don’t go too far and damage your skin.
Top Tip: Remember to set some newspaper down wherever you end up filing your feet. You’ll be both surprised and gratified to see how much debris you create.
Step 2: Clean and clip
Now’s the time to remove old polish and create a nice, neat nail shape before any water gets involved.
Get rid of old polish remnants with Mavala Nail Polish Remover Pads, R119,95 for 30. They’re pre-soaked in an acetone-free solution and are a lovely quick and easy-to-use option compared to faffing around with cotton wool.
ALSO SEE: How To Remove Gel Nails At Home
Always cut nails straight across to avoid encouraging ingrown toenails, then file down any rough edges in one direction only.
Step 3: Soak
Now the really relaxing bit can begin. If you’re lucky enough to own one of those bubbly foot spas, plug it in and you’re ready to go. If not, fill a basin with almost too hot to handle water, chuck in a handful of aromatic bath salts, or a few drops of essential oil, and soak away for at least 15 minutes.
We love Dr Teal’s Foot Care Therapy Pure Epsom Salt Refreshing Foot Soak, R109,95 for 909g, which leaves feet minty fresh as well as soothed and soft.
ALSO SEE: Tips And Products For Beautiful Feet
Step 4: Massage
Once you’ve finished soaking, dry off with a towel, then use a rich cream to give yourself a foot massage.
Dr. Sole Intense Moisture Butter, R32,99 for 100ml, is everything you need for tired toes. It smooths, is infused with anti-bacterial tea tree oil and instantly softens with argan oil and shea butter.
Now follow Spaseekers simple foot massage tips for serious at-home spa vibes:
1. Place a small amount of your moisturiser in the palm of your hand, then rub your hands together to distribute.
2. Wrap your hands around your foot, ensuring your thumbs meet in the arch.
3. Apply gentle pressure whilst moving your thumbs outwards in a T motion towards your toes, circling back around and repeating.
4. Move towards your toes, gently squeezing each toe pad, one by one.
5. Turn your foot back over, and use the same T motion as before to work the tops of your foot, starting at the ankle moving towards your toes.
6. Repeat with your other foot.
Step 5: Tidy
Trim and tidy cuticles are often the difference between a slick salon-quality pedicure and an obvious DIY job.
This Kellermann 3 Swords Tower Pointed Cuticle Scissors, R199, is so sharp, precise and enjoyable to use that it’s crucial not to get carried away. Only clip ragged, dry bits of cuticle that are obviously hanging loose around at the bottom or sides of the toenails.
Step 6: Treat
Toenails take the brunt of everything from exercise to impractical footwear and are generally trapped inside socks and shoes so we can’t really expect them to look super fresh without any assistance.
There is something particularly un-lovely about a yellowing toenail, but it’s easily fixed. For a true DIY treatment, rub on a dash of lemon juice with a cotton pad.
Step 7: Paint
The final stage, and for many people the fiddliest one: applying nail polish.
Use toe separators if you have them, or the old wedge of tissues between the toes trick works well too. Take your time with each nail and don’t overload them with polish, one dip in the bottle and three licks of the brush for the larger nails is plenty.
Don’t worry too much about little smudges, they’re inevitable on smaller nails and you can easily clean up with a cotton bud dipped in remover later on.
A couple of coats of colour should be ample then finish with a clear topcoat and let everything dry for 15 minutes before moving or putting on your flip flops.
Try and wait a couple of hours before wearing socks or shoes if you can, it takes longer than you think for nail polish to completely dry.
Shade wise: a cherry-red is timeless, flattering and glamorous. If you don’t already have one at home, Chanel Le Vernis Velvet Nail Colour in Ultime 636, R480, has a fab texture and should fit the bill.
Main image: Prostock-Studio
Words: Fiona McKim. Additional words: Martinique Stevens