Step 1: Soak those dogs. The foot soak feels good and sets the tone for the rest of the pedi. Plus, this step cleans feet, and softens dead skin cells in preparation for exfoliation.
While a tub fills with warm water, completely remove old polish. To the water, add a teaspoon of tea tree oil (to banish stinky bacteria), a capful of witch hazel (to cleanse and tone), a half-cup of Epsom salts (to rejuvenate), and three drops of peppermint or rosemary oil (to heal and freshen). Soak your feet for five to 10 minutes.
Step 2: Scrub off dead skin. To slough off rough spots, use an exfoliant with medium-size grains like sugar or salt crystals (sugar is less irritating), and moisturizing agents such as jojoba or almond oil. Massage each foot with a quarter-sized blob of scrub for a minute or two. Start at the heel and work out to the toes, ankles, and calves using tiny circular motions. Rinse off with warm water.
Step 3: Buff away bumps. Now it’s time to smooth down nasty calluses. Wet a pumice stone or lava rock, and coat it with a little body wash with moisturizer like cocoa or Shea butter, or coconut oil.
Using a back-and-forth motion, lightly scrape the heels, the bottoms of the feet, and the toes. The key is to be gentle— to abrade only the very top layer of skin, not rub the flesh raw. Do not use anything but a pumice or lava rock to buff.
Step 4: Trim and file. Using a strong steel clipper made specifically for toenails, trim the nails straight across, then smooth the edges with a nail file (a glass file is best). Giving them a slightly rounded shape helps prevent painful ingrown nails.
Step 5: Moisturize and massage. Drench the soles with a moisturizing product made especially for feet — something with Shea butter to add and lock in moisture; arnica to reduce inflammation; and Laponite powder to zap odor.
Using a circular motion, massage a quarter-size dollop of cream all over the feet and lower legs. Then, with the knuckle of the index finger, press down gently into the arch of one foot and knead; repeat on the other foot. The mini massage will relax the feet while boosting circulation and reducing swelling.
Step 6: Polish. First, swipe the nails with a non-acetone polish remover (acetone damages nails) to get rid of any cream residue left over from the foot massage. Insert foam toe separators or roll up a paper towel and weave it through the toes. Next, apply a clear basecoat with protein, vitamin E, and/or calcium to help strengthen brittle nails and prime them to hold the polish longer.
Now it’s time to apply color. This winter’s pedi colors are about celebrating — liquid mirror silver, wine, and starry sapphire. Starting just above the cuticle, sweep the bristles down the center of the nail toward the tip of the toe. Then sweep across the edge of the squared-off nail so it looks like a T. Continue by sweeping up from cuticle on both sides of first sweep. When done with all 10 nails, add a second coat. To prevent chipping and seal in color, layer on a finishing topcoat.
Finally. When the nails are just about dry, massage in a few drops of cuticle oil. It will pump up shine and create a barrier to protect against smudges.