How to Actually Give Yourself a Salon-Quality Pedicure at Home

It's all about having the right tools.

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WINGING IT: How to Give Yourself a Proper Pedicure at Home
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With the change of season, we can all be honest enough to admit that the vast majority of us are in desperate need of a pedicure. But with busy schedules and packed salons, it's sometimes easier to just DIY at home.

Don't get it twisted though — doing your own feet takes skills. That's why it's important to know the right pedicure tools and uses to ensure a salon finish, all without having to leave your home.

To help you get started, we spoke to two nail experts.

All of the best expert tips and tricks, ahead.

What Type of Pedicure Tools Will I Need?

Since pedicures are a little more complicated than your traditional manicure, you're going to need to have a few extra tools on deck.

Of course, the traditional nail polish remover, files, nail clippers, polish, and cuticle oil are necessities, but having a pumice stone or callus remover nearby is essential, too. You can also keep a coarse physical exfoliant handy, like a good sugar or salt scrub.

How Do I Prep My Feet?

You essentially want to follow the same protocol as the salons do, which means you should give yourself at least 45 minutes from start to finish.

"Start by removing any old polish with a gentle nail polish remover — I recommend a non-acetone polish remover, as acetone weakens and dries out nail beds," advises Jin Soon Choi, an editorial manicurist and founder of the New York City-based JINsoon Spas. "Fill your tub or basin with warm water and soak your feet in there for five to 10 minutes. To make the experience more spa-like, add in a few drops of your favorite essential oil."

But if you're in a rush, there's a simple hack for saving time. "If you don't have time to soak, you can always give yourself a pedi after a long bath or shower," says Rita Remark, the global lead educator at essie.

OK, I'm Ready to Roll. How Do I Give Myself a Salon-Quality Pedicure?

Once your feet have soaked for up to 10 minutes, start by cutting down and shaping your toenails. "Keeping toenails short and square prevents infection and ingrown toenails," says Remark. "Soften and refine the shape with a nail file."

Next, it's time to give your toe cuticles a little love. "Using a gentle nail brush, scrub your cuticles and apply a cuticle oil, or olive oil if you don't have," says Choi. "Then, push back your cuticles thoroughly using a cuticle pusher or an orange stick. I try to refrain from cutting cuticles if possible, as they protect your nail bed from bacteria."

Follow up by using a pumice stone or callus remover to gently buff away any hard skin that has formed around the heels and sides of the toes. Then you should be good to go.

"For an extra spa treatment, apply a coarse exfoliant to the feet and massage up the calf," Remark adds. "An exfoliation with a sugar scrub removes excess dead skin, leaving behind baby soft feet. Follow with a rinse and lotion."

VIDEO: Here's Why Getting a Gel Pedicure Is Actually Worth It

What Do I Need to Know About Toenail Polish Application?

It's essentially the same as applying polish to your fingernails, except you only have to use one hand, which may actually give you a more precise finish. But before you get to painting, make sure to cleanse the toenails using nail polish remover to get rid of any excess lotion or oil, as those will prevent the polish from bonding to the nail.

Once you've finished, make sure to have your base coat, polish color, and top coat handy. However, if you want to give your toes a break, that's okay too. "If you are skipping the color, apply a nourishing treatment like JINsoon HyperRepair," Choi shares. "This treatment hydrates, strengthens, and restores nail health in just two applications."

If you want to go with traditional polish, always start with a base coat. "[It's] a protective layer between your natural nail and polish," Choi continues. "I recommend the JINsoon Power Coat base coat, it strengthens and primes the nail with ingredients like biotin and diamond particles for durability."

Once your first layer of polish has dried, it's time to add in a little color. But as Eric B. & Rakim once said, don't sweat the technique.

"The easiest way to paint your nails is to make sure your first stroke starts from the edge," says Choi. "Utilize the natural shape of the brush to make sure it is as wide as possible. Let your second stripe overlap with the first to cover the rest of the nail. Wait about two minutes until your second coat as you work your way across. Don't forget to paint the tip as well!"

Afterward, it's time for one layer of top coat to keep your color looking shiny and fresh. essie's Gel.Setter Top Coat always does the trick. And if you want to treat yourself to a little something extra, why not? "When nail polish has dried, I recommend applying cuticle oil, like apricot cuticle oil, with a little massage," says Remark.

How Do I Keep My Feet Looking Fresh For as Long as Possible?

One word: moisturize.

"To extend the life of your pedi, make sure you're applying lotion and cuticle oil every night before bed, or before you put your socks on in the morning," says Remark. "You can also re-apply topcoat every week to restore shine and prolong the wear of your polish."

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