By Vincent Platania
It is time for your hard working feet to take a break.
Whether your feet need a boost before putting on those open-toed sandals or your pedicure is a gift you give to a loved one's tired toes, pedicures are easy to do at home.
Whether you are doing it for yourself or someone else, the procedure is the same, although it's easier to massage someone else's feet than it is to completely massage your own.
To start, you will need a footbath or large, wide bowl. Choose from a selection of bath and essential oils, foot scrubs, or fizzing bath bombs. Organize toe nail clipper, emery board, nail buffer, spongy toe separators (if planning to polish toenails), nail brush, and follow-up scented foot lotion. In addition, you'll need towels for catching spills, and drying freshly washed feet. If you have nail polish on your toe nails, remove polish thoroughly before starting the pedicure.
Take the bowl or footbath and fill it with warm to hot water. Give yourself the hottest water your feet can take for optimum softening of the tough heel skin, and to promote relaxation. Toss in a fizzing bath bomb. Most are made with scent and Epsom salts, and, when added to water, turn a simple bath, or in this case, a simple footbath, into a bubbling, tickling massage. Add a drop of your favoring essential oil - lavender is a relaxing choice.
While feet are wet, use a foot scrub to soften the calluses built up during everyday exercise and ordinary tasks. Be gentle. If the tough skin on your feet has been building up over a few years, realize that it may take a few weekly pampering pedicures to bring your feet back to softness.
Rinse foot scrub off feet in the cooling footbath. Feet can soften in the footbath for a total of about five minutes, or until water is too cool for enjoyment.. Gently dry off feet with an absorbent towel.
While skin and nails are soft, take a few minutes to gently push back toe nail cuticles with an angled cuticle stick. Use big toe nail clippers to cut toe nails straight across. A caution: do not clip them too short for this can cause problems with ingrown toe nails as the cut nails grow back. Grab the nail brush and scrub across the tip of nails and on the top of the nails. This is a safer way to clean out gunk under nails than to poke a stick underneath the tip and down the side of nails.
Now for the foot massage. If you are giving yourself a pedicure, don't skip this step no matter how awkward or difficult it may seem. Massaging feet increases blood circulation, relaxes muscles and relieves aches and pains. Any lotion will do but using a peppermint oil foot lotion brings added benefits: the peppermint also promotes blood circulation in the foot, and overpowers lingering foot odor. You can start at either end of your foot, but make sure the entire foot receives the benefit of the massage.
Pour a quarter-sized dollop of lotion into your hand and start at the heel, rubbing repeatedly with a light touch, softening skin and soothing stresses. Move up the foot, rubbing lotion in the bottom of the foot. Use thumbs to make small circles as you work your way over the sole. Pressure can be increased anywhere it feels good. In fact, ticklish feet prefer a firmer hand; it’s the light touch that tickles most!
Pay extra attention to the toes. Rub between toes, using a gentle touch. Finish by rubbing each toe individually. Give both feet equal care.
Finish with the toe nails. File any jagged or sharp edges and shape the toe nail. Even if you do not want to polish the toenails, use a nail buffer to smooth nail ridges for a clean, healthy look. If possible, use a nail buffer that has three separate finishes. Start with the roughest surface first and give each nail 20 strokes. Give each nail 20 more strokes with next surface, and finish with 20 buffing strokes with the finest surface on the nail buffer. Use that goofy looking sponge toe separator. This tool keeps polish from smearing as toes bump together. When polishing toe nails, keep in mind the beating your feet take during the day. Start with a clear base coat of polish to prevent the yellowing on the toenails resulting from dark polish painted directly on the nail. Two coats of color will help the nails stay attractive for up to two weeks. Finish with two sheer coats of a protective top coat to keep your pedicure looking great.
Now that your feet look and feel festive, take those pampered toes out on the town.
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