Here’s how to give those toes some love with my tips and tricks for a summer-fabulous at-home pedicure.
I’ve spent rather more time than usual looking at my bare feet as I pad around at home – although, personally, if I do go out at the moment, the idea of revealing any flesh that could be concealed is anathema to me. Still, feet are on display one way or another and pedicures, even if self-dispensed, are pretty indispensable. The basics never really change but, to ease the process, here’s my step-by-step guide for an at-home pedicure and the products I’m loving right now.
First, get prepped
Buy a good foot file and buff away dead skin – no cream will be able to do much if it has to penetrate hard skin first. My favourite is Margaret Dabbs Professional Foot File (£24, margaretdabbs.co.uk). It’s incredibly effective so do go easy when you first use it. If you prefer less manual labour then try Footner Exfoliating Socks (£9.99, boots.com): wearing them for 60 minutes will instigate a skin-peeling process that can last for up to ten days.
Every time you exfoliate and moisturise your body, remember to include your feet – especially your heels. But a super-nourishing dedicated foot cream is definitely worth using. A word of caution: rich foot creams can make things a bit slippery (and sticky) when you’re walking about so I always apply them once I’m in bed (on clean feet). New favourites include Sol de Janeiro Samba Foot Fetish Cream (£25, cultbeauty.co.uk).
This is wonderfully rich but easily absorbed, and has the same classic sweet smell of escapism as its sister Brazilian Bum Bum Cream (£18, cultbeauty.co.uk). It also comes with its own mini foot file shaped like a surfboard, which is very effective and surprisingly ergonomic.
Flexitol Intense Overnight Foot Cream (£6.99, boots.com) is the latest in its footcare range and has 30 per cent urea that delivers extra TLC for dry skin. SVR Xérial 50 Extrême Crème Pieds (£10, feelunique.com) is a stalwart: a liquidy balm that really works wonders.
Invest in decent nail scissors or clippers for your at-home pedicure. I like Navy Professional Betty Clippers (£56, navyprofessional.com) which are solid rather than so many flimsy clippers that quickly fall to bits and start to rust. This range is made in the UK with a titanium coating both for added durability and as a surface that bacteria can’t adhere to. To shape nails, I prefer crystal files as they are far more effective and last well (unless you manage to drop them on a hard surface). Again Margaret Dabbs Crystal Nail File (£12, margaretdabbs.co.uk) is a good one. Nails Inc did a fabulous one years ago that came adorned with some Swarovski crystals and I make a special plea to please bring it back. Remember always to file nails when they are dry.
If you’re finding it hard to reach, nailcare guru Leighton Denny recommends a long-handled foot file. His Crystal Nail File (£17, ld-boutique.com) is 19.5cm long which will aid access issues. If you’ve left it too long and your nails are a bit thicker or hardened, he suggests a bath or foot soak, then ‘apply a liberal amount of petroleum jelly to toenails to soften and leave for 20 minutes’.
Don’t forget a cuticle cream – on toes as well fingers. I’m currently using Margaret Dabbs (yes, her again) Nail & Cuticle Serum pen (£12, margaretdabbs.co.uk), which I keep by my bed to use at night. But other fantastic options are Nailberry Treat à la rose (£16, nailberry.co.uk), a rose-infused cuticle cream; Dior Huile Abricot Daily Nutritive Serum (£22, selfridges.com), a lovely little luxury, and the classic Dior Crème Abricot Nail Cream (£22, dior.com). Another favourite is The Body Shop Almond Nail and Cuticle Oil (£8, thebodyshop.com).
Pick your polish
Remember, nails must be clean and dry before applying polish. To make the at-home pedicure process easier, Leighton Denny suggests you sit down and rest each foot on a stool or a lower chair.
Here are my favourite shades for this summer:
★ Kure Bazaar in Mint (£15, kurebazaar.com) is made with plant pigments.
★ Leighton Denny Back in Catmint (£12, ld-boutique.com), from the new Back to Nature Collection, is a delicate grey/lavender shade.
★ Dior Vernis in Go (£22, dior.com) is fragranced with bergamot (not so useful for toes but charming for a mani).
★ Essie Gel Couture Polish in Polished And Poised (£9.99, superdrug.com) is a pretty pink with a gel-like shine.
★ Peacći in Frida (£10, peacci.com) is a fruity coral shade from this long-lasting vegan line.
★ Rimmel 60 Seconds Super Shine in Jet Setting (£3.49, boots.com) is a luscious pink that lives up to its name.
And to take it off
Never was there a nicer smelling nor more chic-looking varnish remover than Chanel Le Dissolvant Douceur Nail Colour Remover (£15, johnlewis.com). And The Sign Tribe – whose revolutionary cream polish remover Remove And Chill you simply rub on to nails, leave for a few minutes and wipe away – has introduced Reusable Nail Polish Remover Pads (£15.80 for three, thisisbeautymart.com) to use alongside the existing polish remover. Wash in soap and water after use and each pad should give up to 25 uses.
Remember that you cannot remove gel polish in the same way as normal nail varnish. Leighton Denny offers this advice: take the shine off the gel polish with a nail file and saturate ten cotton balls with acetone (you can buy this online; it is not the same as nail polish remover) and place one ball on each nail and hold it in place with tinfoil. Wait 15 minutes, then wipe off the gel polish. Reapply if needed.
Beauty assistant: Alice Robertson