Basic Foot Care: Heel to Toe. How To Pedicure Like a Pro.
Pedicures are one of the services estheticians will do most. The procedure and protocol is drilled into us to the point that we can do one in exactly 60 minutes without a watch or a clock in the room. It’s a little bizarre.
I am now going to reveal all of the secrets of spa pedicures! GASP! Well, not secrets so much as tips from experience. Here’s a basic procedure. Every spa will have a slight variation and may do some add ons.
1. Soak your feet. Fill a large, low bucket or bowl with water. Warm for aching, cooler if you’re experiencing swelling. Add your foot soak products to the running water. Place a towel on the floor, bowl on top. Have another towel ready for when you remove your feet from the water. Soak feet for 5-10 minutes. You can add marbles or smooth stones to the bottom and run your feet over them for massage.
When looking at foot soak products, try to pinpoint what you want to accomplish. If it’s purely relaxation, then anything that smells lovely to you will be fine. Spa Ritual has a great selection of natural bath salts. For more medicinal or focused results, Gehwol offers options that are anti-bacterial, warming, odor-reducing and healing for cracked heels.
Don’t soak for longer than 10 minutes. The skin will get too waterlogged to be able to prettify properly.
2.Remove old polish: We soak the feet first to cleanse the skin and make polish more easily removable. Soak the cotton ball with polish remover and HOLD it on the nail for a few seconds. Wiping and rubbing is too much work. Let the polish remover do it’s job. It will soak through the first couple of layers and should just wipe easily away. Things I’ve learned about polish: Glitter and sparkle polishes last a long time and are harder to remove. Red polish will get everywhere when you remove it. Be as tidy as possibly and wipe from the base of the nail to the the tip. Don’t rub it all over the place. Use a Q-tip to get in those crevices.
3. Cuticle Softener. We don’t really recommend people do their own cuticle work on the toes. They’re so adorably small it can be hard to do without uncomfortable injuries. But here’s what to do IF you feel you can do it properly. Apply a cuticle softening product to the base and sides of the nail. The cuticle you want to get rid of is the dry hard skin that grows up onto the nail. The product will soften that skin over a couple of minutes, making it easier to lift with a tool .
4. Nail Shaping. While the softener is doing it’s thing, it’s time to shape the nails. The nails will have been softened slightly by the soaking and will be easier to cut. Use clippers to cut them straight across. Remember that you will be filing down to give them shape, so don’t cut them too short. You should leave some of the white or “free edge” to work with. This is where a creative eye is useful. You’ll want to give each nail the same basic shape. All that’s different is the size will get smaller with each toe. Try to keep them proportional. This may mean having some of the nails slightly longer or shorter.
Don’t cut them too short or down into the corners. This puts you at a higher risk for ingrowns.
When you file, go from the outer edge toward the middle. Get rid of any jaggedness and sharp corners. Run the file flat along the top edge to bevel it slightly. This just gives a nicer finish to the edge. If you have thicker nails it lessens the stark look of polish against the plain thickness of the nail at the end. Did that make sense?
5. Cuticle Work. Now that the nails are beautiful, we can go back to those cuticles. Take a cotton wrapped orange wood stick and gently start pushing back any of the growth on the nail. This should not hurt or be uncomfortable. There is where the tips get iffy. IF you are going to cut your own cuticles, I can’t stop you. I don’t advise it. If you do, only trim anything that is opaque. If it’s translucent, it needs to stay there. Remember these are your toes, no one is really going to be that close and inspecting. They need to be tidy, not perfect. Leave perfect cuticles to the pros. they have a better angle. Slather on a cuticle oil. Most softeners will be drying to the skin as well. Massage it in around the nails.
6. File Heels. Use a two sided paddle foot file for the best results. Pumice stones are ok, but not ideal. Start with the rough side and begin filing the callous buildup. Be gentle. Dry skin and callous are two different things. Callous is thickening of the skin. Rinse your file in the bowl of water when it starts getting full of filings (skin). Finish up with the finer grit side. This side can also be used on the dry skin areas. Don’t over file as your feet will get all sensitive.
*WARNING* If you have severe cracking, filing a lot in one sitting is not a good idea. The best solution is consistent filing and hydrating over time.
7. Salt Scrub. Skip this step if you have shaved your legs that day. It won’t be fun, I can guarantee it. Have some warm, wet towels handy to rinse your feet afterwards. Take a teaspoon of scrub for each foot and start massaging it in. Focus on the rougher areas of the feet and around the cuticle and nail base to get a cleaner look. Don’t scrub too hard, let the exfoliant do the work. If your bowl of water is still warm, you can use that to help rinse. If not, wrap a warm towel around each foot and use them to wipe in a downwards direction. Fold it over to get clean bits so you don’t spread more salt everywhere. You probably won’t get rid of all of it. That’s ok.
8.Moisturize. This works best if you can trick someone into putting it on for you. Use a foot specific cream. They are richer and really give the hydration your feet need. Massage it in, again focusing on the heels and nails. If you are more utilitarian, use a foot foam and it will soak in right away.
9. Final check through. Use your cotton tipped orange wood stick to clean out any salt or dirt from in and around the nail beds. Do any touch ups with the nail file. Take a cotton ball, apply a small amount of polish remover and wipe down each nail. This will get rid of any oils that would inhibit the performance of the polish and give you a neutral base.
10. Polish. This deserves it’s own separate post. So for now, do your thing! Tips to come.
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