How to Have Pretty Feet

To have pretty feet, you do not always have to go to an expensive salon. With a little time and effort—and a few supplies easily sourced at your local drugstore—you can give yourself a fabulous foot makeover at home.

how to take care of your feet at home
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

A Step-by-Step Foot Care Guide

A pampering as can be to have an esthetician give you a toe-to-heel pedicure, you can follow the same steps to achieve similar results at home.

What You Will Need

  • Non-acetone polish remover
  • Aromatherapy oil
  • Emollient moisturizer
  • Toenail scrub brush
  • Pumice stone, callus file, or emery board
  • Stainless steel nail nipper
  • A cuticle pusher or orange stick
  • Four pounds of food-grade paraffin wax
  • A double boiler or portable paraffin wax bath
  • A reliable candy thermometer
  • A pair of socks
  • Box of plastic cling wrap
  • Extra towels

Step 1: Remove Your Toenail Polish

Stripping nail polish allows you to inspect the toenails and look for any problems, such as onychomycosis (nail fungus) or hangnails. It is best to use a non-acetone polish remover. Polish removers containing acetone are very harsh on the nails and may cause the thinning of the nail plate and the formation of unsightly ridges.

Every now and then, you should give your toenails a break from nail polish. Keeping your toenails constantly painted may cause discoloration, usually with a reddish or yellowish hue. If the nails do turn colors, leave them bare for a couple of weeks, and they should turn back to their normal hue.

Step 2: Soak Your Feet

A relaxing foot soak for 15 to 20 minutes will do you wonders. You can add aromatherapy oils to the tub of water if you choose, but it is not necessary. The very act of soaking your feet will loosen dry scales and soften the thick, hardened layers of skin on your heels, toes, and balls of the feet.

Do not use water that is too hot. This can cause the skin to become dry and crack as the water quickly evaporates and draws moisture from the stratum corneum (the outermost protective layer of cells of the epidermis).

Use a toenail brush to gently scrub your toenails at the end of the soak.

Step 3: Trim Your Calluses and Corns

After softening the skin with a good soak, use a pumice stone, emery board, or callus file to gently reduce corns and calluses. It may take a few trimmings before you are able to remove all of the hardened skin, but take care not to cut or abrade the skin too deeply. 

Removing calluses can help prevent cracks from forming, but trimming too much can the skin to split if pressure is applied to overly thinned tissues. This not only causes pain and bleeding but can increase the risk of infection. Remember that you are only trying to remove dead skin cells, not healthy tissue.

If it has been a long time between pedicures, do not try to remove calluses and corns all in one go. Instead, do so over the course of two or three treatments performed every four to six weeks.

Step 4: Trim Your Toenails

Use a stainless steel nail nipper to trim your toenails. To prevent over-trimming, cut the toenails straight across and then gently round the corners with an emery board.

You can push your cuticles back, but make every effort avoid cutting them. Most dermatologists will tell you that there is no good reason to cut your cuticles (also known as the eponychium). Cutting cuticles not only increases the risk of splitting and bleeding but also provides bacteria and fungus easier access to the nail bed.

Step 5: Give Yourself a Wax Treatment

A paraffin wax treatment will make your feet feel incredibly soft. The warmth of the wax helps increase blood flow and opens up the pores in the skin. When your pores are open, they are able to absorb more moisture.

You can purchase a portable paraffin wax bath online or at certain brick-and-mortar retailers. The devices (which retail from $30 to $70) can ensure the wax temperature never exceeds 125 F. There are also pre-packaged paraffin wax kits that save you the hassle of having to break down a large block of wax and melt it in a double boiler.

Once the wax bath has begun to cool, wrap your feet in a towel to retain the therapeutic heat for a while longer.

Use only food-grade paraffin for foot wax treatments. Additives like stearic acid, coloring, and perfumes can increase the wax's melting point and cause skin irritation.

Step 6: Moisturize and Massage Your Feet

To finish your foot spa treatment, apply an emollient moisturize after the paraffin wax treatment. The softened tissues are better able to absorb the emollients in the lotion and ensure softer, well-hydrated skin and feet.

You should gently massage your feet as you apply the lotion, stretching tendons in the toe joints and the arch of your foot. This is especially useful if you have plantar fasciitis.

After applying lotion, you can put on a pair of socks or wrap your feet in plastic wrap for an hour or two. Known as occlusive therapy, this ensures better absorption of the lotion—a big plus if you have dry, flaky feet.

Other Foot Care Tips

Pretty feet are healthy feet. To ensure that your feet feel as good as they look, make every effort to treat foot conditions appropriately or to contact a podiatrist if you have structural foot problems or pain.

Among some of the more common concerns:

  • Athlete’s Foot: If you have itchy, red, peeling skin between your toes or the bottom of your feet, you may have tinea pedis (athlete’s foot). Try an over-the-counter antifungal ointment, cream, or powder, or ask your doctor for a prescription antifungal like Lamisil (terbinafine) or Spectazole (econazole).
  • Nail Fungus: If you start to see discoloration or ridging in your nails, this may be a sign of the onychomycosis. You also try a topical antifungal like Lamisil or a medicated nail polish that is less easily rubbed off. Tea tree oil is a natural therapy that many people swear by, although the results are generally mixed.
  • Foot Perspiration: Excessive sweating can be a breeding ground for fungus and odor. Try using your regular antiperspirant spray on your feet (rather than a deodorant that only covers smells). If foot odor is a problem, buy a shoe insert with activated charcoal. Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) can sometimes be treated with Botox injections.
  • Inappropriate Footwear: Sometimes, the shoes that make your feet look pretty may end up causing blisters, corns, and calluses. Shoes that are too tight can aggravate bunions and hammertoes. Even though your feet may both look the same, one is usually slightly larger than the other. Buy the shoe size that fits the larger foot, and have your feet measured occasionally as they often get larger with age.

A Word From Verywell

In the end, pretty feet are about more than aesthetics. Treatments are not meant to cover up problems. If you have a foot problem that you can't ignore, ask your primary care doctor for a referral to a dermatologist (if the problem is skin-related) or a podiatrist (if the problem is with the structure or function of your foot).

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