How To Achieve the Perfect Pedicure (for free)


Editor's note: this blog post was originally written in July 2014 and has since been updated for clarity and with the latest information. Enjoy!

Treat neglected toes to a free pedicure by doing it yourself.

We all love the luxury of a professional treatment but you can save money by going it alone.

Follow our step-by-step guide to creating a professional pedicure...for free!

First thing's first...

Remove, Trim and File

Close up of feet with toes painted red

Get feet like this in no time!

Begin by getting rid of any old nail polish with a moisturising nail polish remover. Ones with Vitamin E will help prevent brittle nails.

Use an old flannel, instead of costly cotton wool pads, as not only will this save you money but the thick towel texture works wonders in shifting stubborn nail polishes.

Don't have nail varnish on? Still give your toenails a quick rub of remover.

But why?

It lifts any dirt or grease that might be on your toenail, leaving you with a cleaner and smoother base.

Next, get out your clippers and trim toenails straight across.

How far down do I trim I hear you cry?

Professionals usually leave around 1-2mm of white nail. An error most people make is cutting right down to the nail bed, which can cause ingrown toenails.

(Psst, don't be tempted to hack off your poor pinkie toenails either, it’s a clear tell-tale sign of a shoddy pedicure).

Finally, file your toenails to your preferred shape. For a truly professional finish, keep it square with the corners lightly rounded off.

Use the 'short, short, long' technique: two short strokes to file down and a long stroke to shape the nail around.

File in one direction, avoiding going back and forth as this weakens nails and encourages splitting.

Soak, Exfoliate and Scrape

Pair of feet soaking in a bowl with flowers in

Credit: Natural Living Ideas. Psst, check out the 7 gorgeous foot soak recipes to re-energize and re-invigorate!

Rest your feet in a large bowl of lukewarm water and add a few drops of your favourite essential oils or bubble bath.

Fancy treating yourself?

Add marbles to the bowl and lightly roll your feet against them for a relaxing, massaging effect.

Once you're done relaxing, refill the bowl with fresh water.

Pop on some exfoliating gloves and gently scrub your feet.

You could even use an old toothbrush to lift any flaky skin between your toes, just don't forget to throw it away once you're done...

Rinse your feet and use the hard tip of your towel to rub around toes, gently removing dead cuticle skin.

Next, take a foot file and scrape away at your heels and sides of your feet, in one direction.

Going back and forth will just press dead skin back in again!

Moisturise and Massage

Close up of hand massaging foot wearing white trousers

Now your tootsies are smooth and free of dry skin, it's time to give them a little moisture.

Wash your feet and lightly pat them dry. Leave slightly damp and massage in a good moisturiser.

Want to give your feet a deep moisturising?

Pop a pair of socks onto your feet after you've moisturised and keep them on overnight. In the morning, peel away the socks to reveal baby soft feet.

For a quick moisture fix, wrap cling film around your feet after moisturising and leave on for 30 minutes. You won't be able to move around, so make sure you've got a book to hand and been to the toilet!

If after a long day your feet need a good massage but there’s no one around to do the honours, dig out a golf ball.

Place it on the floor beneath one of your feet and revolve it back and forth for 30 seconds. Give it a go – it’s surprisingly relaxing.

Prep, Paint and Polish

Eight nail varnishes in an array of colour line up on a mirrored background

Rub a good cuticle cream into cuticles and toenails, taking time to massage into the corners.

This is an essential part of a pedicure as you want to dissolve any excess cuticle skin, the prime suspect for making nails look unkempt.

Grab a cuticle stick and gently push them back.

Haven’t got a cuticle stick?

You can push back cuticles with anything that has a similar flat surface, like a pair of tweezers.

Smooth nails down with a buffer and you're ready to start painting!

Start off with a decent base coat so your colour glides on.

Grab your chosen colour and rub the bottle between your hands to warm it up.  

Apply two thin coats using long strokes to spread the nail polish evenly. Keep a Q-tip, soaked in nail polish, on standby to quickly remove any over-spill.

Finally, give your toenails a quick blast of the hairdryer to help them set.

So there you have it! Follow these top tips and you'll never have a dodgy pedicure again...

Woman painting her toenails red, with smudges on the toes