Twice a year, mostly around the time for New Year's Resolutions and before the start of what the magazines call "sandal season" everywhere you go you find these articles about how easy, fun, and wonderfully frugal it is to skip the salon and give yourself mani-pedis at home. There's plenty of advice, usually with quotes from some celebrity nail technician, and a list of must-have products (often sponsored). So you go shopping, gather all your supplies, ready to transform your bathroom into a luxurious spa or whatever, and your hands and feet into soft and papered princess paws.
Then reality strikes and you discover that the process is the opposite of relaxing, since you're the one doing all the work. You're sitting uncomfortably, working for so long on your feet is kind of back-breaking, and often you've run out of time before painting your fingernails, so you're lucky if you even got to shape them. There goes another resolution.
It doesn't have to be that annoying, and as a matter of fact you can do a lot for your hands and feet at home. What I have here today is a list of quick tips to demystify the issue. It's a matter of adjusting expectations as well as some regular and simple maintenance. I've already shared my favorite foot products, so today we're talking about the process. Here's my approach:
1. Don't do your hands and feet at the same time, or even on the same day. Give yourself a pedicure the day before you do your nails. This way both are manageable tasks, and you're not at risk of ruining your mani.
2. Soaking your feet is an important part of the process (and the only time you get to relax). You're usually told to add some Epsom salt to the water, which makes sense because it is great for stress relief. What they don't tell you is that if you have very dry feet this soak is going to make things much worse. If you insist on using salts, cut the suggested amount drastically, but base your soak on a milk bath product or a bath oil. They will actually soften the skin and add nourishment.
3. Clip your nails while soft and damp (seriously, why would anyone do it dry is beyond me), and deal with the other icky stuff: buffing, scraping, cuticle pushing. I dearly suggest using a metal tool for the latter (Tweezerman has a good one). Keep a couple of small towels or washcloths on hand for wiping and polishing.
4. I'm a huge fan of using body oils on my feet, but rich creams are also great (I'm loving Gehwol, both the Soft Feet cream and their Lipidro. Available at Nordstron and Dermstore).
5. It's a good idea to have two kinds of nail files on hand, to deal with thicker and thinner nails, and the precision level needed.
6. Make sure your feet and nails are completely dry before even thinking about painting them. Toe separators are also necessary. If you're prone to messing things up like me, it's not a bad idea to start painting when you're already wearing your flip-flops. This way you eliminate all chances of accidentally smudging a toe when slipping them on.
76. The thing that cuts the time you have to devote to buffing and callous fighting (significantly!) is regular maintenance. I'm not talking about doing a mini pedi every other day, but keeping a heavy duty foot file in your shower and using it for just 15 seconds per foot every day will make a world of difference. Slathering a softening cream before bed and rubbing it into the cuticles will also make the less fun part of the home pedicure easier and quicker. It also helps make your pedicure last longer.
Do you give yourself regular pedicures? Please share your tips and little truths you've learned over time.