DIY Pedicure (Like the Pros!)

An at-home pedicure is definitely more time consuming and not quite as relaxing as a professional salon service, but doing it yourself can save a pretty penny.  I also have to say, when I do my toes myself, I am generally happier with the results (and quite relaxed when I combine the experience with a glass of wine).  These are the steps I take to give myself the perfect pedi, and in Savannah, we truly need to be ready for sandals all year round.

Gather base coat, your polish of choice, and a top coat, along with toe separators, nail clippers, a cuticle pusher and trimmer, and an emery board.  Set these on your coffee table.  This is my favorite place to do a pedicure because the height is perfect when sitting on my couch.  (Essie’s Poor Lil Rich Girl is the beautiful oxblood color I went with.)

And my best advice:  Do your toes before you paint your nails.  Fingernails are a great ally to the perfect pedi because of their ability to quickly and precisely remove mistakes.


Head to the bathroom, where you will remove your polish with acetone and gauze (ideal because it doesn’t leave any fuzzies like cotton balls do).  After that I like to jump in the shower, because the hot water softens nails and cuticles.  Shave your legs and toes, then exfoliate the calluses with a pumice stone.  When you’re done, generously apply lotion to your legs and feet.  (I’m in love with St. Ives 24 Hour Deep Restoring Body Lotion!)

At   At this point, I’m heading to the living room, pouring a glass of something delicious, and flipping on my current Netflix obsession.  Now we get down to business.

  1. Clip toenails in a straight line. Rounding them out isn’t pretty or healthy. The straight shape is  attractive and also helps to prevent ingrown.  Leave just a little bit of a tip.
  2. Push cuticles down gently. They are already soft so you won’t have to be rough. If there is some  weird skin that’s stuck, turn your cuticle pusher to the side and gently scrape the skin from the nail.   None of this should hurt.
  3. Trim the dead skin that you’ve pushed from the surface of the nail. Again, this shouldn’t hurt.  Your cuticle is there for a reason, so hacking away at it is going to do more harm than good. Simply pinch off what obviously doesn’t belong there.
  4. File your toes. Keep them in the straight line you clipped them in.  The reason you don’t do this immediately after clipping them is because filing requires dry nails, clipping requires soft nails.  The two steps between clipping and filing give your nails an opportunity to dry out. I also like to file the sharp corner down just a bit, so it’s not poking my skin.  It’s a personal preference, and it keeps the nail from irritating my toe.  After filing, I like to turn the board so it is pointing towards my foot, and quickly drag it down the tip of the nail to file away any excess residue or snaggly nail that filing may have created.
  5. Use acetone and another piece of gauze to wipe each nail down, finishing the drying process and removing lotion, powder created from filing, and flecks of skin.
  6. Put on your toe separators. Apply a base coat.  Remove any errors with your fingernail as quickly as you see them happen.
  7. Apply the first coat of color.  Again, removing errors with your fingernail quickly will prevent a mess at the end.
  8. Apply the second coat of color.  Same thing about removing any slips.  Then, my next trick is to take the almost wiped clean brush and apply it to just the tips of my toenails.  The spot between the top of the nail and the skin.  If you think about it, when you just paint the toe as a two-dimensional object, you’re only getting the top.  When you are in front of someone though, the whole front of the toe is visible.  It just looks much more, ahem, polished, if you paint the tip of the toe too.  Fun fact:  This will also help your pedi last much longer because you are sealing up any loose ends.
  9. I recommend waiting about half an hour before applying the top coat.  Your nails have enough paint on them it will take a bit to dry, and you don’t want to overload wet layer after wet layer.  The top coat seals and protects the paint job, so it also makes it more difficult for those underlayers to dry.  Follow the same technique with removing any mess-ups immediately. 

I guard my toes with my life for an hour or two, so it’s a good thing I only have to do this about once a month.  I try to stay out of my own way, and I leave the toe separators in just to remind me to be careful.


I hope this helps you with your own at-home pedicure experiments.  It’s taken years to get it down, but I love this process because it delivers the prettiest results!  I’d love to hear your questions or see pictures of the results!



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