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What Are the Basics of a Manicure and Pedicure?

A person getting a manicure.
A manicure done with artificial nails.
A manicurist giving a person a paraffin wax treatment.
A woman getting a pedicure.
Manicure and pedicures are often finished with an application of nail polish.
Cuticle maintenance is a component of most manicures and pedicures.
Nail clippers.
The final step in both a manicure and pedicure is applying moisturizer to the skin.
A woman getting a manicure.
During both a manicure and a pedicure, the nails are shaped using a nail file after clipping.
Toenails with a French pedicure.
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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 18 December 2014
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The basics of a manicure and pedicure include nail trimming and shaping, cuticle maintenance, hand and foot moisturizing, and nail polishing, if preferred. The typical home manicure and pedicure, which is a popular alternative to expensive salon treatments, consists of these simple steps and can be easily done with a few nail-care tools. While much of the emphasis on manicures and pedicures is focused on women, men also often include a basic manicure and pedicure as part of keeping the hands and feet healthy and well-groomed.

Nails that have grown too long are usually the first area of focus for a manicure and pedicure. Some people prefer to first cut off the excess nail growth with nail clippers, though this practice can often lead to excessively sharp nail edges. Trimmed nails are then typically smoothed with a nail file. This step can be done with either a disposable emery board or with a metal nail file. Some professional nail technicians caution against the use of metal files with extra rough grains because they can sometimes leave jagged nail edges. Once the fingernails and toenails are correctly filed and shaped, the powdered residue from the filing needs to be wiped away from the hands and feet before moving onto the next steps.

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Soaking the feet in a basin of warm water is usually the next pedicure step, and this can be done in a portable foot spa basin or in the bathtub if one of these basins is not available. The water both clears away the nail filing residue and softens any callused foot skin to make it easier to exfoliate. While the feet are soaking for about ten minutes, the fingers also usually need to be soaked in a bowl of warm water for roughly three to five minutes to soften the cuticle skin. Once the feet and hands are sufficiently soaked and dried, the cuticles of both can then be exfoliated and moisturized.

Excessive cuticle skin on the nails usually appears as a white coating near the base of each nail. Some nail technicians recommend gently exfoliating this skin away with a damp washcloth rather than pushing the cuticles back and trimming them off. Cuticle trimming is easily overdone and can sometimes result in an infection from removing this protective layer. Moisturizing can generally be done with any type of lotion since most work as well as any type of cuticle cream. The basic manicure and pedicure is then finished off with a polish application, if preferred.

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Discuss this Article

bythewell
Post 3

@Ana1234 - I bite my nails, so I like to have a manicure at a salon every few weeks to stop myself from doing that. There's nothing that will remind me not to bite my nails quite like getting them professionally polished so that I know I'll wreck them if I nibble on them at all.

For a while I was getting artificial nails put on to cover the ragged ends as well, but they've grown out quite nicely. I'm hoping one day I'll get over the urge to bite them completely, but it doesn't seem to have happened yet.

I can't quite bring myself to get a professional pedicure though, so I do that at home. It always seems a bit too private to have someone fiddling with my bare feet for half an hour.

Ana1234
Post 2

@irontoenail - I don't think it's recommended that you cut your cuticles because it can affect the growth of your nails, but I don't think it's a big deal if you do it.

I never touch them at all. I only ever trim my nails and file them, then put on some clear paint.

The downside of not pushing back or cutting the cuticles is that I don't seem to have as much nail space as people who do and if I put colored polish on them they look a bit off. But I hardly ever have the time and patience to paint them anyway.

irontoenail
Post 1

I can remember reading in magazines when I was a teenager that you should never, under no circumstances, cut your cuticles. It seems like the general idea now is that you basically can, but I've never done it. I just soften them with cuticle oil (which is supposed to rejuvenate them, but I don't know if it does) and then put them back with an orange stick. I don't usually have to do very much because they seem to have just settled down over the years into the shape that I like them to be.

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