I have never had a salon pedicure, nope, never. I really hate people touching my feet, just can’t bear it. However, I like strappy shoes, flip flops in the summer and my toes are always painted. So, I think I’m pretty well placed to impart my many trials of foot products, so you can look after your feet this lockdown before you can get another appointment. It may be winter and freezing and you may not be getting your sandals on just yet, but trust me, a bit of maintenance now will help as soon as the weather warms up, and really, what else is there to do on a Sunday evening?
First things first, controversially, I always exfoliate my feet first, when they are dry. I find most of these at home tools work best on dry feet, rather than just out of the bath or shower. Forget the pumice stone type of things, they never work, you need proper, hardcore filing apparatus. The Pedegg I have been faithful to for a long time, it’s small and convenient, really gets to work on hard skin areas and collects it all in the bottom, not creating any mess. The Revlon one is also good too. The Microplane foot file was recommended by India Knight a long while in one of her Sunday Times beauty columns and is excellent. A word of warning with all of these though, go carefully. Keep checking as you use so that you don’t take off too much skin, seriously, they’re that good, but you want smooth, baby soft heels, not raw, red ones!
Now, there is an alternative to Step 1 which is foot socks. You may have seen these advertised and if you’re eating reader, please pause now. The best ones I’ve tried are the Footner ones. They’re filled with exfoliating acids, you put your feet in the plastic bags, (and I recommend then putting some kind of slipper socks over that to keep them on and stop you from slipping about,) leave on for an hour, then rinse off. Don’t do any manual exfoliation beforehand though. You wait around a week to ten days and then your feet start shedding. Yes, literal skin falling off at every opportunity to reveal baby soft trotters. If you don’t live on your own and your partner can stomach it as well, now is a very good time to use them.
As you’re doing this at home, unless you have one of those foot spas, (I got rid of mine about 10 years ago, who has the space?) a bath or shower will suffice. If you want to use a particular body or foot scrub whilst lathering, then do, but I personally don’t really bother. The aim is for your feet to get soft enough to push the cuticles back easily.
3. Cut and File
Most chiropodists recommend cutting toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails, which is what I have always done. I use clippers straight across if I need to cut the length, (cannot stand long toenails!) then use a nail file to smooth the edges.
Next, I massage in some oil and push back my cuticles using an orange stick. I don’t have the confidence to use cuticle clippers myself and my toes don’t seem to need it, (whereas my fingers definitely do,) so if you’re good at it, go ahead, if not, just gently push them back to create a nice shape around the nail bed.
As I don’t have pedicures, I have always used an intensive foot cream, in fact, it’s a heel repair cream, from Flexitol. This is a really rich cream, which if you can, pop on with some cotton socks over the top, then leave for a couple of hours, or overnight if you prefer.
6. Buff and Polish
When it comes to polish, swipe some nail polish remover over each toe first to really clean them of any residue from the cream and like to use a buffer over the nails to smooth them. Then a base coat, two coats of colour and a topcoat to seal. Unlike how they do in salons, I prefer to let each coat fully dry before applying the next. My favourite polish for toes is OPI Big Apple Red. The Seche Vite topcoat is a winner and really shiny and the Beauty Pie one makes polish last a long while.
And that’s it. I find after a week or so, I file my nails down a little, add one more coat of polish and a topcoat and they’re good for at least another whole week, perhaps longer when no-one is seeing them. I also try and use the cream after a bath or shower on another couple of days. Invest the time now, really, your feet will thank you come spring, and maybe your bank balance will too if you don’t need a trip to the salon!