Pedicures are a staple for many people in the summer since barefoot soccer games and dips in the pool tend to dry out skin and chip polish. However, a do-it-yourself manicure and pedicure can save time and money for those willing to learn the tips and tricks for safe, healthy hands and feet.
Start with clean nails
Sheila Wade, instructor and admissions director at the Gainesville campus of the Georgia Institute of Cosmetology, notes cleaning the nail bed before putting on polish is key.
“You have to remove the oils from the nails if you want anything to stay on because it can keep the polish from adhering,” she said.
To do this, any nail polish remover will work.
Soften, push back cuticles
Next, the instructor recommends softening the cuticles with a natural oil and pushing them back gently with a wooden stick. Then wash hands to remove excess oil, she said.
“Olive oil is a natural oil you can use from home,” Wade said. “Keep moisture in your hands and feet at all times, but don’t remove the cuticles.”
Put on base coat
Once your nails are clean, start with a base coat. Wade pointed out nails should be painted in four coats.
“Always wear a base coat,” said Deborah Cohen, master cosmetologist and owner of Nails by Deborah. “Nails can be really porous and absorb the color.”
Apply two color coats
Next, put on two coats of polish color followed by a top coat to ensure a clean, durable manicure or pedicure, Wade said.
Cohen added color can be buffed off of toenails with a buffing block or file, but not as much on fingernails because they are thinner and can be damaged with too much buffing.
Another of Cohen’s at-home tips is to use a spray nail enamel dryer between coats to help them harden quicker and prevent smudges.
Rub lotion on hands, feet
As for the skin around the nails and on hands and feet, Cohen emphasized moisture.
“Use whatever moisturizer you like,” she said. “Just make sure you use it consistently for the best results.”
Exfoliate as needed
For extra-dry skin, especially on feet, a pumice stone can smooth out rough places like calluses, Wade said.
“It can help remove the dead skin,” she said. “But you don’t want to remove it completely because the calluses are defense mechanisms for skin to protect itself.”
For particularly bothersome calluses and rough spots, see a doctor to get them removed.
If skin is simply dry and flaky, Wade noted the PedEgg, as seen on television advertisements, works well at home.
“It’s great for dead and dry skin if you only use it on (yourself),” she said. “Keep it clean and dry or bacteria can grow on it.”
Add top coat midweek
Once hands and feet are smooth, moisturized and bright with color, Cohen said her best maintenance tip is top coat.
“I recommend putting on a top coat or two every other day to freshen the manicure,” she said.
Remove the polish
When it’s time for a color change, Cohen recommends an easier way than the old-fashioned method of wiping polish off with a tissue and nail polish remover.
Instead, the cosmetologist advises putting polish remover on a cotton ball, placing it on the nail and wrapping it with foil. This lets the remover penetrate the enamel.
With this method, however, moisture is key. The acetone can dry out cuticles and nail beds. Some recommend putting petroleum jelly around the nail to protect it from the polish remover.
If the at-home nail salon isn’t for you, Wade and Cohen stated sanitation is key when visiting a salon.
“Look for a jar of barbicide with the instruments in it,” Cohen said. “Ask if each customer gets his or her own set of files, toe separators, etc.”
To sanitize at home, rubbing alcohol will do the trick to keep clippers, nippers and files clean when sharing with family members or between uses.