One part of the body many of you may have been hiding throughout the winter is ready to emerge: your feet – in particular your toes, painted in all the bright, bold hues of the happiest season of the year. A study by Harris Interactive shows that 41% of women get pedicures as part of their personal grooming routine, but if you’re into DIY beauty, then there is no reason why you can’t sport a glossy, perfectly pedicured look of your own making. The following tips will help ensure your feet look and feel as fantastic as when you visit a luxury spa.
Sparking Clean Tootsies
Prior to working on your feet and toes, ensuring that they are completely clean and soft is key. Many of the best foot spas have massaging functions, which can help you relax and de-stress. Foot spas perform two vital functions: they help remove dirt and soften skin in tough areas like the cuticles and heels. This enables you to perform tasks such as filing away dead skin from your heels. A good time to indulge in a foot spa is right after work or on a weekend, since you can warm up the water and give your feet a long, relaxing soak without time constraints. Do not apply moisturizer at this stage: if it touches the nails or cuticle area, it will interfere with your nail polish’s ability to ‘stick’ to the nail. If you have cracked heels, try to rub off dead cells every day, and apply a nightly cream containing around 30% urea. This has a peeling effect that keeps your heels soft. After applying your cream, put a pair of socks on to really lock the moisture in overnight, and to avoid the product getting onto your bed sheets.
Giving Nails A Trim
After a foot soak is the ideal time to trim nails, as they will be less likely to crack or split. Use a dedicated toenail cutter, and aim for a straight cut, leaving the sides of the nail at the same general length as the center. If you cut the sides of your nail too short, you could develop ingrown toenails, which can be very painful and sometimes require medical attention.
Pushing Cuticles Back
You will need to spend a few minutes pushing cuticles back with a wooden cuticle pusher covered in a little cotton. Doing so will ensure that your nail polish reaches the maximum amount of nail, and that your pedicure looks neat and tidy. To care for cuticles throughout the week, use a dedicated cuticle oil, massaging it in, and gently pushing cuticles back regularly. Once again, on the day of your pedicure, your cuticles should be dry, oil-free, and fresh from a shower or foot soak. Avoid the temptation to cut your cuticles, as this can cause infection and will only make your manicure look uneven as the skin starts to grow back.
Applying A Nail Strengthener If Necessary
Now is the time to apply a coat or two of clever nail strengthener. If your toenails tend to split or you wear closed high heels often, give them extra strength by investing in a good nail strengthener. Avoid products (strengtheners, base coats, colored coats and top coats) containing toxic ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and camphor. These ingredients can cause a wide range of reactions, ranging from severe skin irritation and loss of nerve sensation (formaldehyde resin) right through to nausea and headaches (camphor). In large doses, they can cause even more serious issues (including cancer). Read up on the brands that interest you prior to making a purchase, ensuring their products are free of at least ‘the dangerous three’: formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP).
What’s In This Summer?
Once your nail strengthener (or base coat) is dry, it’s time for some popping color! This summer, just a few trending hues will include nudes, pastels, vivid yellow, white, and spearmint. Design trends will include painting each nail in a different shade of the same color, unique French manicures (e.g. with brown or taupe ends instead of the usual white), marble effect nails, animal print, graphic designs, and holographic nails (using nail polish containing tiny reflective particles, followed by a clear sealing gel). Don’t be shy to add a little artistry to your toenails using stickers, graphics, or nail rhinestones. If you like your bling subtle, add your toenail jewelry to just one nail, or to one nail on each foot (use different toes to avoid a look that is too ‘matchy matchy’, and vary the art used on each nail as well). One look that will be very popular this season involves the use of stick-on pearls ranging in size on the same nail. Use the largest pearls at the base and the tiniest ones at the end of the nail to help them stay on longer, and wear this look with open-toe sandals or the pearls may fall off sooner than you hope. Top your color or nail art with a little gloss to seal it all in.
To ensure your pedicure is completely dry, use a nail varnish dryer. When you are confident enough to do so, it’s time to pamper the rest of your feet. Lavish your heels, arches, and the bottoms of your toes with your favorite moisturizer, making sure you don’t get any product on your nails (as this will immediately dull the glossy look you worked so hard to achieve). Once your foot is hydrated and your nails are perfectly designed and executed, put on your most elegant sandals and show off your work at your next soiree or work event.
If you want to ensure your home pedicure looks as great as a professional one, don’t miss out on any of the key steps. Start out with a good foot soak, which will clean your skin and make it easier to clean beneath the nails. Trim and file your nails if necessary, and wait until they are dry. Apply your nail strengthener or base followed by color, nail art, and a top coat. When your manicure is dry, apply moisturizer to your heels, making sure you have filed away any dry or dead skin first.