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How to Give Yourself a Pampering Pedicure

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Woman sitting on bed, painting her toenails
Kathrin Ziegler/Digital Vision/Getty Images

There’s nothing like a great pedicure complete with a warm foot soak and a massage. Our feet have the burden of moving us around and if we’re on our feet all day, especially in high heels or tight, uncomfortable shoes, they can become swollen, tired and achy.

Going to the nail salon on a weekly basis for a pedicure, though ideal, would become very expensive. But you can give your feet a treat at home by doing more than just a quick polish.

The following is a great pedicure to give yourself. Do it near the end of the day, when you have nothing else planned, except to relax and retire for the night. It will help you get a restful sleep.

What You’ll Need

For the foot soak:

  • foot basin or foot spa
  • nail brush
  • foot scrub or cleanser
  • pumice stone or foot file
  • a couple of towels and washcloths

Foot Soak Ingredients

  • 3-5 lavender sprigs (or 2 tablespoons of dried lavender)
  • 3 stems of fresh peppermint (or 1 tablespoon of dried peppermint or 2-3 peppermint tea bags)
  • 5-6 drops of lavender oil (optional)

(Lavender is soothing and relaxing. Peppermint rejuvenates tired feet and is good for circulation. Learn more about the aromatherapy benefits of lavender and peppermint).

For the pedicure:

  • nail polish remover
  • toenail clipper or scissors
  • emery board
  • orange stick
  • cotton swabs
  • toe dividers
  • foot cream (or hand cream)
  • moisturizing wipes or tissue
  • vitamin E, olive or vegetable oil

1. Remove nail polish.

2. Boil 10 fluid ounces of water and pour over the flowers in a large bowl and let steep for 15 minutes. While waiting, boil about 18-20 cups of water or whatever amount will cover your feet and ankles in the footbath.

3. Strain the mixture and then pour into the foot basin. Add the essential oil if using and mix well. (If you are using an actual foot bath/foot spa, read the manufacturer’s instructions to find out what bath ingredients and products are safe to use in it).

4. Add enough water to cover the feet up to the ankles and soak for 15 minutes. Here's a trick I've used after having a pedicure at a spa. Put smooth stones (like the type used for hot stone massage or for decorating mini-water fountains) and spread them at the bottom of the foot basin to massage the soles of your feet as you soak.

5. Using a nail brush, clean under the nails and gently scrub the feet. You can also use a favorite foot scrub or cleanser to help loosen dead skin.

6. Remove a foot from basin and using a wet pumice stone or foot file, smooth away calluses and rough, hard skin with a circular motion on the soles and heels (but not the toes).

7. Gently push back cuticles with an orange stick. Repeat with the other foot.

8. Rinse both feet in the foot bath. (You might want to rinse off the feet again in another foot basin or use a soft, wet washcloth to wipe off the feet).

9. Pat dry with a towel and be sure to dry well between the toes.

10. Cut the toenails straight across with a toenail clipper. Do not cut into the corners. It's best to allow the nails to grow out at the corners to prevent ingrown toenails. If you cut too close to the corner, the nail can grow into the skin. [If you do have an ingrown toenail, have a podiatrist cut and shape it properly.]

11. Gently file and shape the nails with an emery board.

12. Rub in a foot cream and massage your feet for 10 minutes.

How to do a foot massage.

13. For extra pampering you can add this optional step: massage a rich foot cream onto the feet, then wrap them inside plastic and cover with a warm towel and relax for 15-20 minutes. (If you don’t have a towel warmer, you can warm a towel in the dryer). You can also use an at-home paraffin treatment.

14. Remove excess cream with a tissue or moisturizing wipe.

15. Use cotton balls or toe dividers to separate the toes.

16. Apply a basecoat to the nails and let dry.

17. Apply one coat of polish and allow it to completely dry. Apply a second coat.

18. Once the second coat has dried, seal with a topcoat. Clean up any polish that might have gotten onto the skin with a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover.

19. When your toenails are completely dry, just before going to bed, apply vitamin E oil (or olive or vegetable oil) to the cuticles and, if you like, massage a little more lotion onto the feet. Cover with socks over night and you'll wake up with gloriously soft, happy feet.

If you have certain health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, please consult your doctor about using hot footbaths.

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