How do I do a Home Pedicure?

Felicia Dye

If they are not properly maintained, feet can become a very unattractive part of the body. Proper maintenance, however, can be costly if you regularly employ the services of a professional. If you want to save money and have attractive and healthy feet, do your own pedicures. A home pedicure may require a bit of time and work, but it is not nearly as difficult as you may think. Basically, you just need to soak, scrub, and care for your toenails.

A person soaking her feet before a pedicure.
A person soaking her feet before a pedicure.

The first step of your home pedicure should involve you filling either a foot spa or a basin with warm water. Before you put your feet in, add either foot soak or bath salts. If your feet are tired or aching, try something that contains mint or eucalyptus. You can also use Epsom salts. Make sure the contents are distributed throughout the water. Then, let your feet rest in the potion.

Bath salts can relax your feet during a home pedicure.
Bath salts can relax your feet during a home pedicure.

Once your feet and ankles are relaxed and the skin is softened, remove one foot and remove excess water from the toes. You do not need to make them completely dry. After you have done this, apply a bit of cuticle remover to each toenail and allow it to sit.

Toenails with a French pedicure.
Toenails with a French pedicure.

Meanwhile, scrub the bottom of your foot with a pumice stone, foot file, or similar tool. Once you have removed the dead skin and your sole feels smooth, use a cuticle-removing tool to loosen the cuticle that has grown out onto your toenail. After you are finished, place your foot back into the water and do the same to the other foot.

Adding eucalyptus to a foot soak can help relieve aches.
Adding eucalyptus to a foot soak can help relieve aches.

When both feet have been scrubbed and the excess cuticles are removed, take your feet out of the water and dry them well. If you feel the need to trim your cuticles, now is the time to do so. Many beauty professionals advise against doing this, but it is commonly done during professional pedicures. Before all of the moisture leaves your feet, apply a thick moisturizer. Shea butter is a good choice, as are products specially designed for the thick skin on the feet.

After the polish is dry, moisturizer should be applied to the feet to condition and nourish them.
After the polish is dry, moisturizer should be applied to the feet to condition and nourish them.

Now, your home pedicure is halfway done. The next steps involve caring for the toenails. First, clip the toenails so they are straight and even. Second, file them to the desired shape. Third, buff the toenails so they are shiny and smooth. Unless you plan to apply polish, you will have completed your home pedicure.

A pumice stone can be used during a home pedicure.
A pumice stone can be used during a home pedicure.

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Discussion Comments


I have diabetes, so I have to be careful when doing a home pedicure. Any little cut could lead to an infection, and I have a couple of tricks for avoiding that.

I don't shave my legs on the two days leading up to my pedicure. That way, I won't have any little nicks that might allow bacteria to seep in and wreak havoc.

Also, I never use metal tools or blades on my rough feet. I use a callus stone, and I use it tenderly.

It does take a little extra attention to detail, but I am glad to be able to even do a home pedicure. Some of my diabetic friends are too afraid to even try, but I've never had any problems arise from mine.


@StarJo – Thanks for the tips on using a buffer. I think this may be just what I need to add to my home pedicure routine.

My toenails look so rough on the surface. I have white and yellow areas here and there, and there are spots that feel like sandpaper.

I have been soaking, trimming, and painting them, but I think I need to do more. The paint covers up the discoloration, but it can't hide the texture. I believe I could buff it off with the tool that you use.


I think it's strange that my feet get so rough in the summer. I don't go barefoot, so I don't understand why the skin on my soles starts to snag on blankets.

I do wear flip-flops, and I guess that since I'm not wearing socks, my feet must dry out a whole lot. This is the only reason I can come up with.

So, I do a summer home pedicure once a week. Since my feet will show all season long through my sandals, I know I need it.

I use a pumice stone to smooth them out after a good soak with scented bath salts. The soaking itself is so relaxing that I barely have the energy to exfoliate once it's time!


My favorite part of a home pedicure is buffing my toenails. It is amazing what a three-sided buffer can do to improve their appearance.

The first side of my buffer is the roughest. I run this across my toenails five times in a row. Then, I do the second side, which is smoother, seven times. I finish up with the finest side, used for creating a smooth, glossy surface, which I buff across the nail nine times.

After buffing, I like to apply cuticle oil. I massage it into my nail and the surrounding area, and I let it soak in for about five minutes. Then, I rub off any excess oil. At this point, my toenails look as shiny as if I had applied a clear topcoat!


@ysmina-- Yea, you're right. I try to work around that by keeping some hot water next to me while soaking my feet. As the water cools down, I add more hot water to the basin. I agree that it would be nice to have the water stay warm during a home pedicure soak.

A pedicure scrub is a good idea! I'm going to look for one next time I'm at the store. Thanks for the suggestion!

Yes, I do remove my cuticles once in a while. I use a cuticle tool with two ends. One end has a little piece that lets you push your cuticles back. The other end has a cuticle cutter to cut the excess cuticle. Sometimes it's enough to push cuticles back. Sometimes, there is too much skin there, so I push them back and then cut them gently with the tool.

The right way to cut toe nails is to cut the two sides of the nail straight out, not curved. If you leave it curved, it could cut into your skin and became an ingrown nail. So always cut it straight out and slightly away from the skin.


@alisha-- That sounds like a nice pedicure. I know that the home pedicure spa systems cost a lot but I want one because it will keep the water hot. Whenever I use a plastic basin for a pedicure, the water cools down so fast. I don't get to soak my feet as long as I'd like to.

I agree with you about not filing feet too much in the winter. That's why in winter, I use a pedicure scrub in the winter instead of a file. It's much more gentle so you can use it every week and keeps feet super soft.

Do you remove cuticles during your pedicure? If so, what do you use? I don't know how to remove cuticles. Also, how do you trim your nails? I have an ingrown nail problem on my feet, I think I trim them wrong.


I love salon pedicures but it can be very costly if I go every week. So I've learned how to do a pedicure at home and do it every weekend.

I haven't bought a foot spa because as far as I understand, they don't do anything that a basin with hot water can't. And they're also expensive.

So I just use a basin with hot water and add different things in it depending on how my feet are doing. If I have really tired feet, I put either epsom salt or ginger powder. They're great for relaxation and ginger is known to be an antioxidant. I use lavender oil if I have aching feet, it acts as a pain reliever. It's also great for aromatherapy.

After soaking my feet, I do the usual filing of dead skin and shortening nails. I don't do too much filing in the winter since I have much softer, thinner skin. I might file twice a month in winter, whereas I file dead skin and calluses every week in the summer.

I like to do my home pedicure before I sleep so that I can moisturize my feet at night. I put on foot lotion and wear socks over them. The next morning, I have beautiful, soft feet.

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