Give yourself the perfect spring pedicure at home
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Give yourself the perfect spring pedicure at home

After months of shoving your feet into thick, slouchy socks — it's past time for your toes to see a little sunlight. But they're likely to need at least a little TLC, lest you risk offending the members of your quarantine pod. Follow this step-by-step (no pun intended) guide to give yourself a safe spring pedicure.

And, yes, these instructions can also be followed by the manliest of readers.

Getting your feet sandal ready can be done at home, but it's important to safety proof each step to prevent the risk of infection.

Getting your feet sandal ready can be done at home, but it's important to safety proof each step to prevent the risk of infection.Credit:iStock

Assemble and sterilise your tools.

You'll definitely need a pair of nail clippers, a cuticle pusher and a nail file; depending on how thorough you want to get, you'll also need a dry foot file, exfoliating scrub and moisturiser. If you really want to treat yourself, have a foot basin filled with warm water ready. Don't skimp when it comes to the nail clippers and cuticle pusher. Krista Archer, a podiatric surgeon based in New York's Manhattan, recommends using as many all-metal tools as possible so that you'll be able to properly disinfect them before each use. To sanitise your tools, soak them in a shallow dish in 91 per cent alcohol for at least 10 minutes.

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For toenails, Archer recommends single-use paper emery boards that you can buy in bulk. They'll be "contaminated with nail dust and fungus, and that lives on the nail file," she explained, so you shouldn't hold on to them.

Also grab cotton balls and nail polish remover to get rid of remnants of pedicures past. And finally, you'll need your base, colour and top coat within reach. Work in a well-lit area (natural light is best).

"If you don't have a bright light in your apartment, wear a headlamp," said Archer, who often employs this technique both in her home and her office.

Landscape your nails.

Spray your feet with rubbing alcohol, focusing on the nail and cuticle.

"So, if something does happen and you do nick yourself you're not going to get infected," Archer said.

Then, pat them dry.

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Next, cut your toenails for length. No matter your preferred nail shape, experts agree you should always cut straight across to avoid ingrown nails. (If you do get an ingrown toe nail, make an appointment with a doctor. "Don't go diving for it," Archer said.)

Then use a file to gently shape the sides of your nail, she said, getting rid of any sharp corners, by following the lunula, the lighter coloured half moon shape at the nail base. Archer recommends leaving the cuticle cutting to professionals, too. Instead, gently push back the cuticle with a metal cuticle pusher.

Ditch your dead skin.

Some nail salons buff out calluses after feet have had a good soak. But Margaret Dabbs, a foot care specialist in London who has a line of products in her name, said to avoid wetting the skin first.

"You're going to mask the area that needs to be treated, and you're not going to see the dry skin, the cracks in the skin or the hard skin," Dabbs explained.

So, use your foot file before you soak your feet. Rub the heel and balls of the feet, which are typically the most callused parts, with your dry foot file in a back-and-forth motion. The soft parts of the skin, those in between the toes and the arch of your foot, will be taken care of by an exfoliating scrub.

Remember: Leaving some calluses on your foot is beneficial and protective, but too much callus can lead to gait changes and, if they rip open, infection. To avoid these complications, it's best to dry-file your clean feet once a week. If you have lost sensation in your feet, Archer and Dabbs both recommend forgoing the foot file completely.

Now, soak your feet.

You've made it to the relaxing part. Both Archer and Dabbs suggest using Epsom salts, which can relax the muscles in your feet; Archer recommends adding drops of essential oils, like tea tree, for an aromatherapy experience. Dabbs likes rinsing fresh mint leaves with cold water and tossing them into a basin for some cooling relief on a hot day.

Rub your wet feet with an exfoliating scrub to remove any lingering dead skin. Then, pat dry and moisturise with a thicker cream, like L'Occitane en Provence's Shea Butter Foot Cream. If you're looking for lower-cost and more natural options, Archer recommends coconut oil, olive oil or shea butter.

Finally, polish your nails.

Get into position: You might want to elevate your feet on a stool or rest them on a windowsill so you can reach them better. If you don't have a toe separator, which does exactly what it sounds like and is available for a low-cost at most chemists, Edwards recommends cutting makeup wedges and placing them between your toes, as they are sturdier than cotton balls or paper towels. Be sure to remove any oil or moisturiser residue from your toenails with nail polish remover.

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Start by applying a base coat, which smooths the nails so that your polish sticks better and lasts longer. Edwards uses a simple base coat, rather than the strengthening base coat that she uses for manicures.

Then, apply two coats of your colour. Work parallel to the nail, from the middle of the nail outward, and don't put the brush at an angle, Edwards said. As for colours, Edwards recommends a warmer peach, muted Terracotta or moody blue — but her personal favourite is bright yellow.

Lastly, use a topcoat, which adds a layer of protection to prevent the colour from chipping. Edwards' favourite topcoat is Essie's Good to Go.

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