Whether you’ll be visiting a salon or scheduling your own do-it-yourself makeover at home, use these 25 pedicure tips to get your feet in tiptop shape for the spring sandal season. Don’t let your tooties swelter in shame inside boots and closed toes shoes when the weather turns warmer.
Tips for Salon Pedicures
1. Schedule a pedicure in the morning when fewer people have used the salon’s footbath or make sure you find a salon that cleans their footbath thoroughly between customers.
2. Bring your own pedicure tools to the salon to ensure you don’t get toenail fungus or bacterial infection.
3. If you have sensitive diabetic feet inform the salon at the time you make your appointment. Ask about sterilization procedures, the temperature of the water during foot soaks, and if any of the salon’s pedicurists have experience working with diabetic feet.
4. If you are diabetic and feel uncertain of the salon’s ability to take proper safety precautions trust your instincts and try a different salon. Remember that pedicures can be an invaluable component of diabetic foot care, but only when performed by a knowledgeable professional.
Tips for Home Pedicures
5. Begin by completely removing any residual nail polish from your last pedicure.
6. Soak your feet prior to exfoliating and trimming your toenails to soften the skin and enamel. Add a little milk to the water so that its lactic acid can loosen any dead skin. 5 minutes is usually a good rule of thumb for how long to soak your feet, but the more cracked and callused your feet are the longer they will need to soak.
7. Use a pumice to gentle smooth away calluses and rough skin patches. We recommend the Personal Pumi Bar because it is gentler on sensitive feet than a pumice stone or steel callus file.
8. After exfoliating, dry feet thoroughly, including between the toes.
9. Apply moisturizing foot cream being careful not to put moisturizer between your toes or you run a greater risk of getting a fungal infection such as athlete’s foot.
10. Cut nails straight across just above the skin to prevent ingrown toenails. Never clip the sides of your toenail and make sure your toenails don’t extend beyond your toes.
11. When rounding sharp nail edges file lightly in one direction being careful not to scrape the nail’s surface. Use an emery board rather than a steel nail file. A steel file is more likely to rip your nails.
12. The fine-grade surface of the emery board is for smoothing sharp or rough nail edges. This is the side you should use on your toenails. The coarser surface of an emery board on the reverse side is for shortening & shaping fingernails which can safely be kept longer than toenails.
13. Apply cuticle remover to the base of each nail & rub it in. Leave on for a minute.
14. Use a wooden or rubber cuticle stick (often called an orange stick) to gently push back the cuticles. A properly designed cuticle stick should be relatively small with rounded ends and a flattened tip.
15. When pushing back the cuticles, hold the stick at angle to prevent jabbing motions and use slow, gentle pressure. Be careful to remove skin only on top of the nail. Do not touch the toe flesh. Pushing back your cuticles should not be painful and should not bleed. If it hurts you’re pushing them back too hard.
16. While there are cosmetic benefits to trimming your cuticles, there is much debate among medical professionals as to the degree to which it increases your risk of infection. If you do plan to trim your cuticles use a sterilized, cuticle nipper. Don’t trim all the way down to the skin or you’re likely to bleed and feel a burning sensation.
17. If you have never trimmed your cuticles before it is probably a good idea to have a professional pedicurist show you how to do it the first time. If you have a foot condition, ask your doctor before trimming back your cuticles.
18. Don’t apply colored toenail polish to conceal toenail fungus as it will only protect the infecting bacteria causing the infection to last longer. Apply a coat of clear antimicrobial nail polish instead.
19. Prior to polishing remove any traces of cuticle remover from the nails by applying a non-acetone polish remover.
20. Roll your nail polish bottle between your hands rather than shaking it to avoid air bubbles.
21. When applying nail polish keep away from fans, air conditioners, and drafts which can also cause bubbling.
22. When applying nail polish use the three stroke method. One stroke on either side with the final stroke in the middle. Try not to paint the cuticle.
23. If you accidentally paint your cuticle or skin you can remove the blemish with a Q-tip dipped in nail polish remover.
24. If you don’t wish to color your nails apply a clear coat of polish or use a nail buffer to remove surface enamel imperfections.
25. Moisturize your feet regularly; not just when you give yourself a pedicure. A recent AMPA survey revealed that only 41 percent of women moisturize their feet frequently even though it’s the easiest way to prevent cracked heels and peeling skin.
A Quick Footnote on Pedicures for Men
A common misconception that men have about pedicures is that their sole purpose is to pamper (and pampering is girly). When stripped of the pink nail polish, the basic idea behind a pedicure actually has very little to do with relaxation and luxury. The basic pedicure is simply a series of foot health saving actions performed in sequence to maximize their efficiency. Preventing dead skin build-up on your soles from turning into full-blown calluses which can become painful or crack and bleed is crucial for preventing pain and infection. Trimming toenails regularly is important for preventing fungus from finding its way beneath overly long, unkempt toenails and also preventing black toenails which occur as a result of the damage to the nail matrix from overly long toenails coming into contact with a shoe’s toe box during running or walking.
A foot hygiene survey conducted by Shopzilla in 2006 indicated that only 15 percent of men have ever had a pedicure. Most men take better care of their cars than they do of their feet. If you are a man who wants to improve his foot health, please feel free to use the above pedicure tips discounting the nail polish application advice (unless you’re a rock star or otherwise unconcerned with social convention). Your podiatrist and your feet will thank you for your manly efforts.