How to Give Yourself a Salon Pedicure at Home

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Tips and tricks to give yourself a salon pedicure at home

When my time on this spinning blue planet is complete I'll know one thing for sure: I passed on every piece of spa wisdom I possibly could to the next generation. Here's what I know about nails:

You're probably aware that the New York Times recently published a series of investigative reports on the nail industry. The articles reported that the hazardous chemicals in many of the products used could be causing workers' health problems. Also noted were the unfair conditions that many of these employees are working under.

Let's be honest: we've all been to salons where everyone seemed wacky, but pretty happy and healthy. Anjelah Johnson's viral "Nail Salon" YouTube video captures that perfectly.

But if we're honest with ourselves, we've also been to salons where workers were obviously coming from precarious life situations. There are no smiles on their faces either for you or the people they work with. There's no talking; no balance of human exchange; their clothes don't fit and they look (seriously) a little bit hungry and definitely poor. It's an uncomfortable environment and the experience doesn't feel like a treat.

This year I kind of stopped going save the very occasional pedicure date with a friend. I've always been on the fence about nail salons, anyway. Are you helping or hurting by giving them business? It's hard to know. But it was easy enough for me because I don't particularly enjoy pedicures. Whenever they do the foot scrub it makes the insides of my ears itch. I either can't hear anything or I have to listen to the nail drills and the fans amplified through my hearing aids. Fans are the hearing aid wearer's kryptonite.

So I just started doing my own toes at home. Over the last few months I've had to up my game to get them to look as good as if they were done in a salon. And at 44? It's not that easy to get my leg up close enough to my eyes to be able to see my toes clearly enough to paint them.

So...I put together a list of tips and tricks to help you do a "salon" pedicure at home. Here it is!

How to Give Yourself a Salon Pedicure at Home

 1. Run some hot, soapy water and gather your equipment.

You need a "Satin Hands" set from Mary Kay. It has an emollient cream; a scrub; and a smoothing lotion. You're just going to use it on your feet. If you're smart, though you'll also do your hands at the same time. I don't use much Mary Kay but this "Satin Hands" thing is a good product. You can mail order it via my consultant using the link if you don't have your own.

You need a pumice stone to scrub your heels. By the way, it's enormously helpful if you do this in the shower every day. Four bucks at Walgreens. While you're at Walgreen's, pick up some new nail files as well as the "shovel" thing that scrapes your nail beds and a 100 percent acetone nail polish remover. Because why mess around?!

You need a bottle of clear base coat which makes the polish color smooth and helps keep the color off your skin. I like OPI's Natural Nail Basecoat.

Skip the cheap nail colors and splurge on one from Dolce & Gabbana. I know what you're thinking: "But Heidi, I'd NEVER spend $27.00 on a bottle of nail polish." When actually, you'd spend $40 on one, single pedicure. So there! Dolce & Gabbana polishes are GREAT. They stay chip-free for weeks and the colors are fun. Choose a bottle that you'll enjoy wearing often and see for yourself. It will dry out before you ever reach the bottom of it.

Now, if you're age-d like me, it's helpful to have a pair of reading glasses on hand. I wear Eyebobs "Bobbi Brown" in pink.

2. Remove old polish then dip your feet in the hot, soapy water (I do all this in the tub and sit on the edge) and then when you can't stand the boredom any longer goop them up with that Mary Kay emollient cream and scrubbing gel. Scrub...scrub...scrub...use the pumice stone for extra scrubbing power. Use the "shovel" tool to scrape your nail bed and clean underneath it. Rinse under running water then towel dry.

3. Trim nails as needed and file the edges smooth. Put lotion on your feet and legs and then wipe the nail bed clean of lotion with a tissue. Don't skip this step or your polish won't set. Shake up your color and let it sit while you do the clear coat. This way you won't get a blob of color on the first stroke.

4. Put your magnifying glasses on and then put your foot up on the tub edge that you're (hopefully) still sitting on. Knee in the middle of the chest. Apply your OPI Natural Nail Base Coat. Switch feet. Repeat.

5. Open your color, wipe the excess off the brush and then do a sweep the color down the center of the nail first. Then the sides, pulling back the skin a little (you're going to mess up your fingernails so leave them until last.) and finally, do a horizontal sweep of color across the cut edge of the nail. Prevents chipping. Do a second coat if you want.

6. Do a clear top coat. Many mistakes will brush out with a coat of clear. Otherwise, use a little remover on a Q-tip to get the job done.

7. Let the toes sit and dry while you do your nails. You may as well since you basically scrubbed your hands while you were doing your feet.

8. Read a book or watch a movie until they dry. That's the self indulgent part of the home pedicure. Plus? You just SAVED FORTY BUCKS!

You're welcome.

--Heidi

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