Summer may be over, but it’s no reason to skip your next 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.
Trust us: Your feet will never have looked better.
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.
- Basin (or bathtub)
- Epsom salt
- 2-3 drops of essential oils of your choice
- Foot file or pumice stone
- Foot scrub
- Hydrating foot cream
- Cuticle oil
- Nail kit, which includes nail clippers, cuticle nipper, cuticle pusher and a nail file
- Toe separators
- Acetone polish remover
- Cotton pads
- Polish: base coat, top coat and the colour of your choice
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. She likes the Quo Beauty acetone remover ($7), available at Shoppers Drug Mart. “It gets rid of all the most stubborn colours, quick!” (Acetone cuts out the scrubbing—it takes away 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 an at-home pedicure
1. Prep your feet
“Fill your basin or tub with warm water and add the Epsom salt and essential oils of your choice,” 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.
Bautista recommends trying tea tree oil for its antiseptic properties, chamomile as an anti-inflammatory or eucalyptus to relieve aches and pains. “Soak for 3-5 minutes to allow for your calluses to soften.”
2. Get rid of rough skin
Though an a foot scrub is always a good idea, you can go a step 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, provide moisture and smooth out the bottoms of your feet,” says Bautista. “Focus on the heels and balls of your feet and [any other] trouble areas. Also don’t forget in-between your toes!” After, apply your favourite foot cream or body butter.
A foot mask can 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 putting on 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.” After you’ve trimmed the nails, apply a little bit of cuticle oil on and around your nails.
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 in-between coats. “Thin layers are important because 1) it’s how you achieve an even, non-streaky finish and 2) it speeds up the drying time. Depending on the polish coverage, 2-3 thin coats should typically do the trick,” she says. Finish off with a clear top coat.
7. Tend to your cuticles
To make sure your pedi goes the distance, keep your cuticles moisturized with an oil or a 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.”
Shop a few at-home pedicure essentials below.
iFedio Collapsible Foot Basin, $29
Short on space? This collapsible foot bath folds flat to fit under the bathroom sink.
Dr. Teal’s Fragrance-Free Pure Epsom Salt, $9
An Epsom salt soak is a great way to soak feet and freshen up. We love the fragrance-free version that’s kind on sensitive skin—plus, you can add your own essential oils to the mix.
JJ Autumn Double-Sided Foot File, $15
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.
Dr. Scholl’s Ultra Hydrating Foot Cream, $10
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.
CND SolarOil Nail & Cuticle Care, $17
A few drops of this bestselling oil soften cuticles to get your nails ready for a coat of polish.
Tweezerman 4-Piece Pedicure Kit, $18
This set contains all the nail-trimming essentials you’ll need to shape your nails.
Molain Toe Separators, $6
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 Got the Blues for Red, $22
You can’t go wrong with a classic dark red polish, which happens to be the must-try colour of the season.
While the products in this piece have been independently chosen by our editors, this article contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
Originally published in 2017; updated in 2023.