The pedicure procedure

Be sure to fully clean, disinfect and sterilize all tools and containers used to avoid risk of dangerous, life threatening pedicure infections!

Remove Polish
Precautions: The chemicals used in nail polish remover are very harsh and will dry out your cuticles and nail bed, making your nails white, dry and brittle. Try to limit prolonged exposure to these areas and to your skin in general. Yeah, I know its hard keeping the polish remover off of your cuticles and other exposed skin, but it really is bad for them so do your best. Read our article on Acetone, Ethyl Acetate and Acetonitrile to find out more.


Use a remover with moisturizers and vitamins. They will leave these behind after the harsh chemicals have evaporated.
When possible use non-acetone/alcohol removers to limit the drying out effect. They aren’t as effective though and may not be able to take off darker colored polishes as well.
Use a lint-free cotton cloth to avoid those fuzzies left behind by cotton balls.
Get your material of choice saturated with polish remover and rub over each toenail. For hard to remove spots, soak the material, press and hold firmly for a few seconds over these areas then wipe away. Repeat until all the trouble spots are removed, making sure to re-soak with remover before each press-and-hold sequence. This ensures a fresh batch of remover to dissolve the hardened polish. Noticed stains or yellowing on your nails? Read this page on how to remove nail stains.

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Groom your nails
Precautions: Be careful with anything that has a sharp edge and comes close to your skin. Oh yeah, if you start seeing blood(or feeling pain) – STOP!!


Use an emery board as your pedicure nail file instead of metal files that are notorious for ripping nails, unless you’re a pro.
With emery boards, the finer grade side is for smoothing around the edges of the nail while the rougher, coarser side is for shaping and shortening.
Use a safety nail clipper
The object of grooming your nails is to get them to the desired length while reducing the chances of getting foot problems like infamous ingrown toenails. To avoid ingrown toenails, make sure you cut your nails straight across and above the skin so that the nail corners are visible. Cutting too short is like begging your nail to grow into your skin. Once clipped, try to achieve a soft, rounded square shape by filing. With filing though, try to stroke in only one direction. Slightly round the corners but don’t take them lower than the middle portion of nail.

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Foot Soak
Precautions: Any unit that circulates water can be a breeding ground for very dangerous bacteria. Bacteria that can lead to amputation or even death! Be sure whenever you use one, or any pedicure vessel for that matter, that it has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to avoid pedicure infections.
If you have any open sores on your feet or legs, don’t soak. Soaking may help dangerous germs get to the wound. Consult your physician first, especially if you are a diabetic, elderly or HIV positive.


Add about a quarter cup of milk to the foot soak. The lactic acid helps to cleanse, soften and deodorize the feet. It also helps loosen dead skin cells.
Always use heated water. As hot as you can bear. It soothes and softens much better.
You can add marbles to the bottom of the foot basin to rub your feet over while soaking.
Essential oils can be added to aid in relaxation.
Epsom salt is anti-inflammatory, will help you relax, soothes muscle pain and improves rough patches of skin - it’s also an emollient and exfoliator.
Epsom salt will also help stop that wrinkling effect when you soak your feet for long periods.
Use Epsom Salt in your foot soak!
Pedicure foot spas (foot baths), pedicure tubs and pedicures bowls are not all necessary, but if you already have one you can make use of some of the features if you want. Click the links to find out more about them.

Fill your chosen vessel with water so that you at least cover the tops of your feet. Try to cover as much as possible even past your ankles if you can. The Epsom salt will soothe those areas too.  You’ll want to use about a ½ cup to a cup and soak for about 10 minutes (30 minutes is great!).

There is no real strict time or dosage limit on this, just put enough for it be effective (about a ½ cup for a medium to large container). Of course if you are using an extremely large vessel, adjust your dosage accordingly. Using too much won’t hurt, neither will soaking too long (unless you're pregnant). So judge it by how much product you have (and how long you want your supply to last) and how much time you have to spare.

Essential oils add to the relaxation effect more so due to their aroma. Lavender and Jasmine oil aromas have been said, by experts, to increase feelings of relaxation and may even help you achieve a better, more restorative slumber when present during sleep. Lemon oil aroma in addition to helping with relaxation has been said to enhance one’s overall mood. Give them a try in your foot soaks.

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Cuticle Treatment
Precautions: Be careful not to cut or scrape “live” flesh, instead of your cuticle.


A cotton wrapped orangewood stick is an excellent cuticle pusher.
Wooden (eg. orangewood) and plastic cuticle sticks are less abrasive than metal ones
If you are comfortable using them, liquid cuticle removers may be used, but they are dangerous if you use them incorrectly. Want to know how? Confused over where the cuticle actually is? Read “Cuticles and Removers“.

I recommend after soaking, using a cuticle stick or cuticle pusher to push back the cuticle towards the nail fold. You have to look closely to see where it begins. Usually after soaking (and bathing) excess cells begin to flake up at the edge of where your cuticle starts. As you push back firmly but gently towards the nail fold, more “dead cells” will begin to flake up. This is the excess cuticle skin that we will clip or scrape away.

If you don’t have cuticle nippers you can use your cuticle pusher/stick to scrape the excess off of the nail plate. This all becomes easy because you soaked first. This keeps you from painting over excess cuticle skin that will most likely just flake up in a little while ruining your new coat of polish. It also helps eliminate the white, flaky excess cuticle cells that accumulate on your nails, improving their appearance when unpolished.

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Scrub/Clean your nails and Feet

Old (or new) toothbrushes can substitute for nail brushes. Just keep in mind some are harder than others. If your skin is more delicate, go for soft to medium bristles. The stiff/hard bristles may scrape your feet.
A cotton wrapped orangewood stick is an excellent, safe way to for clean underneath nails
After the foot soak, any dirt under the nails and other places should have loosened up. Wrap the tip of your cuticle stick or pusher with cotton to gently and carefully remove any dirt you see underneath your nails. Many leave this step out of their how to do a pedicure guides, but cleanliness must be addressed as it is very important.

Get your nail brush and scrub your nails and feet. Underneath nails is an excellent place for bacteria to hide. Be sure to scrub underneath the free edge, the nail plate and around the nail fold. Also scrub your soles, paying special attention to your heels, in between your toes and the tops and sides of your feet.

This part may get very ticklish. If you can’t stand the scrubbing with the brush because you are too ticklish, use a bath towel instead.

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Precautions: Be very careful with anything that has a blade!
If you are environmentally conscious, some big brand body scrubs contain tiny particles of a substance called polyethylene. Many marine animals die from ingesting too much of these particles as it clogs their digestive tracts.


You can make your own foot scrubs from home ingredients. A few ideas are:
Milk, Baking Soda and Salt
Epsom Salt, (Opened)Peppermint tea bag, Vitamin E Oil
Mix them to a creamy paste

You have a few options of things to use to mechanically exfoliate your feet. The usual choices being foot files, loofah sponges and pumice stones. They all work well. Loofahs usually can't handle really tough skin though. The Ped egg, a new device, may also work well for you.

You can also add a chemical exfoliant, i.e. foot scrub cream to aid in the exfoliation process. As suggested above, these can be homemade or store bought. These scrub creams have tiny abrasive particles in them to aid in the exfoliation which can be applied to the foot directly and/or to the instrument you are using.

Be sure to scrub the heel and balls of the feet, sides of your heels and around your toes; basically anywhere there is rough, hard skin.

The key again is to be firm but gentle. You are trying to grind away slowly, layer by layer to expose the younger, softer skin below. Aim to smooth instead of removing, this should keep you on track because it is very possible to rub too hard and damage your feet.

Don’t try to get your feet super smooth in one sitting. It will most likely take a few pedicure/exfoliation sessions to get your feet as smooth as want them to be. Be patient. If you see a bright red color emerging, it’s time to stop and remember that certain areas of your feet are a bit tougher for a reason.

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Moisturize, (Insert Foot massage here if applicable)

Retrieve your moisturizer of choice and massage a generous portion into your feet. Rub deeply to be sure the ingredients are absorbed into the skin. Pay special attention to rough, tough patches. Include the ankles and lower legs as well, keeping this skin soft is a must for beautiful legs and feet. If you want to get your feet softer (or any skin), the following are some natural ingredients that do just that, so be on the lookout for them in your creams. Ingredients that soften the skin are called emollients.
Shea Butter
Grape Seed Oil
Cocoa Butter
Jojoba oil
Vitamin A,C & E (although chemicals are sometimes used to add these)
For dry, cracked feet read our page on Dry Feet. If you are giving someone else a pedicure, you could insert a foot massage here.

If the weather is cold, slipping on a nice, warm pair of pedicure socks before you paint your nails might be a good idea right now since the next step is, you guessed it, nail polish application.

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Apply Nail Polish
Dry your feet thoroughly and ensure your nail plates are free from any oil or residue moisturizer. If they do have some moisturizer or other chemicals left on them, dab a piece of cotton (or cotton cloth) in some polish remover and run it over your nails. Any residue material will seriously affect the base and top coats/polish ability to adhere.

Now get your base coat, nail polish and top coat ready (or clear nail polish/enamel). If you have allergies to certain types you should use either formaldehyde free nail polish or water based polishes. I always recommend using a base coat as it protects your nail plate from the yellowing, staining effect of deeper shades, especially red. The base coat also provides a nice, smooth surface for your polish to be applied to. The top coat will add a gloss shine and protective cover to your nails, much like as in automobiles.

Try to master the art of how to apply nail polish . After applying the polish, you can use a pair of disposable pedicure slippers or disposable pedicure sandals to maneuver around in. These are great because if you do happen to get polish on them, it doesn’t matter because you’ll toss them any way.

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Post Pedicure Maintenance Tips

To keep up with feet softening treatments, you can generously moisturize your feet at night before going to bed with a moisturizer that contains one or more of the emollients we detailed above. Then put on a thick pair of cotton socks to ensure that most of moisturizer is absorbed into the skin instead of being rubbed off on your sheets. These emollients work best over time through repeat exposure!

You can also reapply some top coat every few days to keep it intact over the polish color and to renew the shine making your nails look fresh all over again.

Foot soaking isn’t something restricted to a pedicure. Doing regular foot soaks can be beneficial.

You have now been enlightened on how to do a pedicure in the comfort of your own home. Now, go forth into the world, showing off the beauty of your feet!