Your poor toes spend all winder imprisoned by boots. Now that strappy-sandal season is upon us, it's time to pamper them with this at-home pedicure.
Step 1 Soak those dogs: Don't cheat yourself out of the foot soak just because you're doing your pedi at home. This step does more than clean your feet and make you feel amazing. It also softens dead skin cells in preparation for exfoliation. As you let the tub fill with water, remove all traces of old polish. Add to the water a teaspoon of tea tree oil, a capful of witch hazel and a half cup of Epsom salts and three drops of peppermint or rosemary oil. Soak your feet for five to ten minutes.
Step 2 Scrub off dead skin: To slough off rough spots, look for exfoliants with medium size grains, like sugar or salt crystals and moisturizing agents such as jojoba or almond oil. Massage each foot for a minute or two with a quarter size blob of scrub. Start at your heel and work your way out to your 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 lave rock, like the Tweezerman Pedro Too and coat it with a little body wash. Using a back and forth motion, lightly scrape your heels, the bottoms of your feet and toes. The key is to be gentle - you want to abrade only the very top layer of skin.
Step 4 Trim and file: Using a strong steel clipper made specifically for toenails, trim your nails straight across, then smooth the edges with a nail file. Giving them a slightly rounded shape helps prevent painful ingrown nails.
Step 5 Moisturize and massage: Drench your soles with a moisturizing product made especially for your feet. Using a circular motion massage a quarter size dollop of cream all over your feet and lower legs. Then, with the knuckle of your index finger, press down gently into the arch of one foot and knead; repeat on the other foot. The mini massage will relax your feet while boosting circulation, which reduces swelling.
Step 6 Polish: First, swipe your nails with a non-acetone remover to get rid of any cream residue left over from your foot massage. Insert foam toe separators or roll up a paper towel and weave it through your toes. Next, apply a clean basecoat - the formula should contain protein, vitamin E and or calcium, all of which will help strengthen brittle nails and prime them to hold on to polish longer. Now you're ready to apply color. This summer's pedi colors are not for shy girls - we're talking hot pink, shocking purple and juicy tangerine. Starting just above the cuticle, sweep the bristles down the center of your nail toward the top of your toe. Then sweep color on each side and across the edge of your nail. After you've done all 10 nails add a second coat. To prevent chipping and seal in color, layer on a finishing topcoat.
Experts: Marc Brenner, DPM FASPD, podiatrist, Glendale Newq York; Donna Perillo, owner, Sweet Lily Natural Nail Spa New York City; Elena Blanco, DPM, Hackensack University Medical Center; Skyy Hadley, owner, As U Wish Nail Spa Hoboken New Jersey; Robert Klein DPM podiatric physician, board certified foot surgeon, Texarkana Texas.