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How to Give Yourself a Professional Pedicure

Give Yourself a Pedicure Step #1: Remove polish from nails

Miss Webril cotton band

Giving yourself a professional pedicure is an 8-step process. The first step is to remove the old polish from your nails.

Instead of cotton balls (which will leave fuzzies on your nails), use a cotton band, such as Miss Webril ($5.60 per box; 800-545-2506). Saturate the cotton band with acetone remover and rub off the old polish. If the color isn't coming off easily, press the saturated cotton on the nail & let it soak in first.

Tip for picking the perfect polish remover: Alcohol- and acetone-free removers are less drying, but don't work as well, especially on dark shades. Use the 'free' stuff on lighter shades.

Give Yourself a Pedicure Step #2 -- Cut & File Nails

It's best to use high quality clippers made for clipping toenails such as Tweezerman Deluxe ($10, tweezerman.com). To avoid ingrown nails, cut nail straight across, leaving about 1/8" of length. Make sure your nail doesn't extend over the tip of your toe.

To get a soft square shape, file nail around the corners slightly in one direction. (Hint: Don't use metal files, they'll rip your nails). Basic emory boards like the ones from Revlon work great, but if you want to go truly pro, try the Mehaz ingrown toenail file ($19, amazon.com) which allows you to easily lift nail corners for shaping.

Emory board tip: The fine-grade surface is for smoothing the nail edge, while the coarser surface is for shortening & shaping nails.

Give Yourself a Pedicure Step #3 -- Soak Your Feet

Fill a large flat-bottom bowl with warm water. Throw in bath salts, your favorite aromatherapy oils or Epsom salt & let your feet soak 5-10 minutes. The more cracked & calloused your feet, the longer they need to stay in.

Trick only the pros know: Add a quarter cup of milk to your bath along with the essential oils & salts. The lactic acid in the milk loosens dead skin.

Give Yourself a Pedicure Step #4 -- Trim Cuticles

Apply cuticle remover to the base of each nail & rub it in (Sally Hansen, $4 at most drugstores works great). Leave on for a minute, then use an orangewood stick (Tweezerman works great) to gently push with a circular motion everywhere where skin meets the nail (including the sides). Be careful to remove skin only on top of the nail, don't touch the toe flesh.

Use cuticle nippers (Mehaz nippers work best) to trim any loose skin. Be careful not to nip your toe flesh.

Give Yourself a Pedicure Step #5 -- Scrub Your Feet

Apply an exfoliating body or foot scrub to a foot file or wet pumice stone to slough away the dead skin on the balls & heels of your feet. You'll want to scrub the balls, bottoms & sides of your heels & around the toes. To get the most leverage, sit on the side of a bathtub, facing inward. Remember tje pedicure motto, "smooth, don't remove." Stop if your foot turns bright red (you've scrubbed too hard). Remember, that tough skin is there for a reason.

Any basic foot file or pumice stone from your drugstore will do the trick, but if you want the Cadillac of foot files, try Perfect Beauty certamic foot file, $20, 800-694-4866).

Give Yourself a Pedicure Step #6 -- Moisturize

Dry feet thoroughly including between the toes & rub in a thick foot cream like Barielle Total Foot Care Cream ($19.50, barielle.com). Rub the feet & theh calves. Rehydrate cuticles by rubbing in a dab of cuticle oil. Wait 2 to 3 minutes.

Give Yourself a Pedicure Step #7 -- Polish Your Toes

Use acetone remover to get rid of any excess oils on the nails (including the cuticle oil you just applied). Apply a thin base coat using 3 strokes, one down the middle, then one on each side. Don't paint the cuticle. Wait a minute before adding two coats of your favorite polish, then finish with a thin top coat (try quick-drying Seche Vite, $10 at ulta.com). Clean up any errors with an orangewood stick wrapped in cotton & dipped in acetonoe remover.

Let nails dry for at least 40 minutes.

Tip: It's good to paint any polish remaining on the brush over the front nail edge. This prevents chipping.

Give Yourself a Pedicure Step #8 -- Finish

After nails have dried, spritz with a moisturizing oil like SolarSpeed spray. This sets your polish & moisturizes your cuticles. Then voila! You're done!

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