How to Do a Pedicure at Home That Rivals a Salon Treatment

Get your feet in top shape with a high-quality pedicure at home.

Woman giving herself a pedicure at home
Photo: Francesco Carta fotografo/Getty Images

Like emojis and Paris, pedicures are always a good idea. Zoning out while someone massages your feet and paints your nails with precision is extremely gratifying.

But like all beauty treatments, they take time and $$$, so sometimes a DIY pedicure is the move. Luckily, if you know how to replicate the experience, you can unwind and keep your feet in their best shape without leaving your home. Below, each step you should take to mimic the salon pedicure at home, based on advice from the pros. (

How to Do a Pedicure at Home

If you're trying to give yourself the full experience, the key is to set the scene. Find a comfy spot, turn on some music, maybe light a few candles, and gather all your tools so that you won't have to get up (and potentially ruin your polish) mid-session. Once you've prepped a workstation, proceed to step one to give yourself a salon-like pedicure at home. (

What You'll Need:

  • Large bowl
  • Foot soak (or whole milk)
  • Towel
  • Foot file
  • Cuticle softener and pusher
  • Glass nail file
  • Uncurved nail clippers
  • Foot scrub (or DIY)
  • Lotion
  • Nail polish
  • Cuticle oil

Step 1: Soak Your Feet

Celebrity nail artist Pattie Yankee starts every pedicure by filing then soaking the person's feet. First, buff any dry, rough spots with a foot file like Tweezerman Step-Two-It Foot File (Buy It, $13, amazon.com) and clean your nails with cotton soaked in nail polish remover.

Then Yankee suggests soaking your feet in a bowl filled with warm water and a foot soak, such as Naturally London Exhale Detoxifying Foot Soak (Buy It, $20, verishop.com). If you don't have one, use whole milk, since it has lactic acid which helps soften calluses. "This softens the skin and nails, making it easier to exfoliate and trim," says Marcela Correa, a medical pedicurist in New York.Soak your feet for 10 minutes or so, remove them, and dry them with a towel. "Wipe between each toe — it feels great to have fully dried toes, and it helps prevent fungus from growing there," says Correa.

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Tweezerman Step-Two-It Foot File

Tweezerman Step Two It Foot File
CVS
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Naturally London Exhale Detoxifying Foot Soak

Naturally London Exhale Detoxifying Foot Soak
Verishop

Step 2: Shape Your Cuticles and Nails

Up next for your pedicure at home: cuticle care. Use a cuticle softener such as CND Cuticle Eraser (Buy It, $12, cvs.com), then gently push back the thick layer of skin surrounding your toenails with a wood cuticle pusher.

At this point, you can go in with cuticle trimmers if needed, but proceed with caution. "Sometimes after you push back your cuticle, there's a really thin fold of skin that surrounds the nail," says Yankee. "That part you can cut off, but you don't want to cut into anything that's living."

Once you've perfected your cuticles, it's time to trim your nails. "Cut toenails straight across the top — that's the key to avoid­ing an ingrown nail — then follow with a teeny clip on each corner to soften the edges so they don't dig into the sides of your toes as you run," says Julie Kandalec, a celebrity manicurist in New York. "I like an uncurved clipper [Buy It, $11, sephora.com] because it offers the most control, especially on little nails. Make sure it's new and sharp; otherwise, it can crack or split the nail." Then, smooth the free edge with a glass nail file (Buy It, $12, ulta.com), which has a grit that's gentle enough for all.

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CND Cuticle Eraser

CND Cuticle Eraser
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TWEEZERMAN Nail Clipper Set

TWEEZERMAN Nail Clipper Set
Sephora
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OPI Crystal Nail File

OPI Crystal Nail File
Ulta

Step 3: Exfoliate and Moisturize

At this point in your at-home pedicure, you can continue to promote softer skin by exfoliating with a scrub. OPI North America education and capability manager Darlene Sritapan likes the brand's ProSpa Exfoliating Sugar Scrub (Buy It, $26, amazon.com). If you prefer a DIY scrub, she suggests combining one part almond, olive, or coconut oil with two parts sugar. Buff the scrub onto your feet and lower legs, rinse, then towel dry.

You can also use a foot file instead of a scrub. Correa and Kandalec prefer to tackle rough areas once a week with a stainless steel foot file that has disposable abrasive sheets (like

ASP Stainless Steel Foot File, $17, sallybeauty.com) because it's sanitary and more effective than a pumice stone, says Kandalec. If your heels are cracked, file in the same direction as the crack, not against it. "Otherwise, you could make it bigger," says Correa. Afterward, apply a hydrating cream and give yourself a foot rub. Top pick: Weleda Skin Food Ultra-Rich Cream (Buy It, $19, ulta.com).

Just be sure to tread carefully: "Too much aggressive scrubbing or foot filing can stimulate calluses, making them bigger, not smaller," says Correa. (

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ProSpa Exfoliating Sugar Scrub

OPI Pro Spa Skin Exfoliating Sugar Scrub
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Weleda Skin Food Ultra-Rich Cream

Weleda Skin Food Ultra-Rich Cream
Ulta

Step 4: Solve for Special Concerns

Summer peak season for blisters, athlete's foot, and nail fungus. "All occur when there's too much moisture," says Correa. When your foot is sweaty, it begins to slide in your shoe, and the friction causes a blister to form. Applying a balm, such as Body Glide Foot Glide Anti Blister Balm (Buy It, $8, amazon.com), is a good preventive step.

Meanwhile, sweaty shoes are an ideal home for bacteria, which can cause athlete's foot and nail fungus. If you're dealing with either, "I recommend sterilizing shoes after every wear," Correa says. She sells a Fungi-Fix UV Shoe Sterilizer (Buy It, $150, medipedinyc.com), which slides inside your shoes and kills fungus, bacteria, and odor in 15 minutes. You can also treat shoes and feet with Arm & Hammer Invisible Foot Powder Spray (Buy It, $7, target.com); the clear baking soda formula helps absorb moisture and neutralize odor. "In general, keep your feet as dry as possible, switching socks midday if needed. Wear a toe-cap protector on any infected nails in the shower, then dry feet completely before you put on shoes," says Correa.

Lastly, to treat cracked heels, apply a foot cream with urea, like Eucerin Roughness Relief Cream (Buy It, $12, amazon.com), before bed, and slip on a silicone heel protector (Buy It, $10, amazon.com) to lock in moisture. You can also wear these during the day for extra support and cushioning — just skip the lotion.

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Body Glide Foot Glide Anti Blister Balm

Body Glide Foot Glide Anti Blister Balm
Amazon
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Eucerin Roughness Relief Cream

Eucerin Roughness Relief Cream
Amazon

Step 5: Polish Your Toes

Time for the main event of your pedicure at home. "I'm a fan of a simple solid-colored pedicure," says Kandalec. "I love the crisp outline of a classic red, magenta, white, or mint that draws just the right amount of focus." Swipe nail polish remover over your nails again to remove any product that might've made its way onto your nails. To prevent yellowing, apply a base coat, like Orly Bonder (Buy It, $9, amazon.com). Then add two coats of lacquer and a high-shine, quick-dry top coat."Make sure you let each coat fully dry to prevent bubbles or wrinkles in your application," advises Sritapan.

If you don't have a steady hand, you can erase any mistakes with an angled makeup brush (Buy It, $4, target.com) dipped in nail polish remover. (Do it while the polish is still wet rather than waiting until the end.)

Apply a cuticle oil (Buy It, $7, target.com) and your at-home pedicure is complete.

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Orly Bonder

Orly Bonder
Amazon
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Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil

essie Apricot Cuticle Oil
Target
Updated by
Kate Sandoval Box
Kate Sandoval Box Shape headshot
Kate Sandoval Box (she/her) is a writer, editor, and cross-platform beauty expert with over 15 years of experience at national women's brands, where she has interviewed the nation's top aesthetic experts and culled the beauty market for the most innovative products that deliver next-level results. She is the beauty director at Oprah Daily. She was the beauty director at SHAPE for eight years and held the same title at Parents and Parents Latina. Previously, Sandoval Box held beauty editor roles at Self, Latina, Cosmopolitan, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Her skin content has been nominated for multiple Skin Sense Awards and has won a media award from the Women's Dermatologic Society. She has profiled celebrities including Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laura Dern, Jennifer Lopez, Kristen Bell, Eva Mendes, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas; she also has appeared as an expert on The Dr. Oz Show, Fox, CBS, and many news syndications across the country. Sandoval Box graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Originally from New Mexico, she now resides in Hoboken, NJ with her husband and two children.
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