How To Give Yourself A Salon-Worthy Pedicure At Home

Everything you need to know to keep your toes looking their best.
How To Give Yourself A Salon-Worthy Pedicure At Home

(Photo: iStock)

Sure, it's not sandal season yet, but it's no reason to skip a pedicure. And if you're looking to save money, don't worry—doing it yourself is easier than you think. We asked Julia Bautista, founder of Naked Beauty Bar in Toronto, to share her best tips on how to achieve a salon-worthy at-home pedicure.

What tools do you need for a pedicure at home?

First, prep your at-home station, Bautista says. These are the must-haves she recommends having on hand.

What is the best nail polish remover for a pedicure?

"Acetone, not polish remover, is your best friend. You can purchase 100 percent acetone at the drugstore," says Bautista. "It gets rid of all the most stubborn colours, quick!" (Acetone eliminates scrubbing—it removes colour in a single swipe.)

"For tough-to-remove polish, like sparkles or glitter, you can soak a cotton ball with acetone, and place it on top of the entire nail plate. Wrap it up with a piece of foil for about a minute or two. The acetone will break down the polish, allowing you to simply wipe it off," she continues.

How to give yourself a pedicure at home

1. Prep your feet

"Fill your basin or tub with warm water and add the Epsom salt and essential oils," says Bautista. Epsom salt helps freshen up odorous feet—a must if you sweat a lot. As a guideline, she recommends using 1 tbsp if using a basin or 1 cup if using a bathtub.

When it comes to essential oils, Bautista recommends tea tree oil for its antiseptic properties, chamomile as an anti-inflammatory or eucalyptus to relieve aches and pains. "Soak for three to five minutes to allow for your calluses to soften."

2. Get rid of rough skin

Though a foot scrub is always a good idea, you can go further to ensure the smoothest skin possible. "Pumice stones are great because they’re natural, or use a wooden foot file," says Bautista.

And although you will be the only one only using it, she stresses the importance of cleaning your buffer of choice after every use to keep it sanitary.

"Exfoliating is a perfect way to remove dead skin dead skin and smooth out the bottoms of your feet," says Bautista. "Focus on the heels and balls of your feet and [any] trouble areas. Also don’t forget in between your toes!" After exfoliation, apply your favourite foot cream or body butter.

A foot mask can also do wonders for flaky, tired feet. "To combat dry heels, look for one with moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil or olive oil." If you’re going to incorporate the foot mask into your pedi, Bautista recommends using it after you remove your calluses and before applying polish.

3. Cut and shape your toenails

"Cut down your nails and shape them to your liking," says Bautista. "Consider cutting toe nails straight across and softening out the edges using your nail file to avoid developing in-grown nails." Don't cut too short to avoid injuring the nail beds.

After you trim your toenails, apply a bit of cuticle oil.

4. Prep your toenails for nail polish

After your nails are all cleaned and buffed,  Bautista recommends soaking a cotton pad with acetone or polish remover and wiping your nail plate to remove every last bit of cuticle oil.

Next, put on your toe separators. If don't have toe separators handy, Bautista suggests rolling up a sheet of paper towel and weaving it in between your toes.

5. Don't forget the base coat

"For a long-lasting and professional-looking pedicure, make sure you use a base coat to ensure the longevity of your polish."

6. Apply nail polish

When applying colour, Bautista says that thin layers are best. Wait one minute between coats. "Thin layers are important because that’s how you achieve an even, non-streaky finish and speed up drying time. Depending on the polish coverage, two to three thin coats should typically do the trick," she says.

Finish with a clear top coat.

7. Tend to cuticles

To make sure your pedi goes the distance, keep your cuticles moisturized with an oil or cream. "It will help with the health of your nails as well as extend the life of your paint job," says Bautista.

What's the best way to fix pedicure mistakes?

Mistakes happen. Thankfully Bautista has an easy fix if you happen to colour outside the lines. "Use a small paint brush dipped in remover to clean up around the edges or when you get polish on your skin. It's super helpful in getting precise with your polish."

The best at-home pedicure essentials for 2024

iFedio Collapsible Foot Basin, $30

iFedio Collapsible Foot Basin, at-home pedicure

This collapsible foot bath folds flat to fit under the bathroom sink. It's also easy to clean.

Dr. Teal's Fragrance-Free Pure Epsom Salt, $11

Dr. Teal's Fragrance-Free Pure Epsom Salt for an article on at-home pedicure.

An Epsom salt soak is a great way to soak feet and freshen up. We love this fragrance-free version that's kind on sensitive skin—plus, you can add your own essential oils.

JJ Autumn Double-Sided Foot File, $15

JJ Autumn Double-Sided Foot File, at-home pedicure

With a rough and smooth side, this simple wooden file has everything you need to tackle calluses. Whether you opt for bright nails or French tips, smooth heels are a must.

Yves Rocher Foot Exfoliating Gel Scrub, $14

Yves Rocher Foot Exfoliating Gel for an article on at-home pedicure.

Made with pumice stone, this scrub gel can be used one or twice a week to smooth calluses and get rid of rough patches.

Dr. Scholl's Ultra Hydrating Foot Cream, $10

Dr. Scholl's foot cream for an article on at-home pedicure

This foot cream contains urea and Epsom salt to smooth and nourish dry skin, as well as peppermint and lavender essential oils to revive tired soles.

Essie On-A-Roll Apricot Cuticle Oil, $11

Essie On-A-Roll Apricot Cuticle Oil for an article on the best beauty products for March 2024.

A few drops of this bestselling oil soften cuticles to get your nails ready for a coat of polish.

Tweezerman 4-Piece Pedicure Kit, $19

Tweezerman 4-Piece Pedicure Kit, at-home pedicure

This set contains all the nail-trimming essentials you'll need.

ZaxSota Toe Separators, $8

Molain Toe Separators, at-home pedicure guide

Folded paper towels work just fine, but if you give yourself frequent pedis, it's worth investing in a set of toe separators.

OPI Nail Lacquer in Polly Want A Lacquer?, $17

OPI Nail Lacquer in Polly Want A Lacquer? for an article on at-home pedicure.

You can't go wrong with a bright and breezy lavender hue, which happens to be the must-try colour of the season.

Updated in 2024.

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