How to Have Pretty Feet

You don't have to go to an expensive salon to have pretty feet. With a little time and effort—and a few supplies you can find at your local drugstore—you can give yourself a fabulous foot makeover at home.

In six steps, this article tells you everything you need to know about giving yourself a home pedicure. Following other foot care tips might even have people convinced that you spent a bundle at a prestigious spa.

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

A Step-by-Step Foot Care Guide

It's hard to match the heady feeling of being pampered. But who says you can't match that feeling—and get similar results—by pampering yourself with a home pedicure? Before you do, make sure you have the following products at home before heading to the drugstore:

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
  • Double boiler or portable paraffin wax bath
  • Reliable candy thermometer
  • Pair of socks
  • Box of plastic cling wrap
  • Towels

Step 1: Remove Your Toenail Polish

Stripping nail polish allows you to inspect your toenails and look for any problems, such as onychomycosis (nail fungus) or hangnails. It's 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 them to become discolored, usually with a reddish or yellowish hue. If your nails do turn colors, leave them bare for a couple of weeks. They should soon return to their normal color.

Step 2: Soak Your Feet

A relaxing foot soak for 15 to 20 minutes will do wonders for your feet, whether or not they're aching. You can add aromatherapy oils to the tub of water if you choose, but it's not necessary. Soaking your feet will loosen dry scales and soften the thick, hardened layers of skin on your heels, toes, and balls of your feet.

Do not use water that is too hot. It can cause the skin to become dry and crack as the water quickly evaporates and draws moisture from the outermost protective layer of the skin. Use a toenail brush to gently scrub your toenails at the end of the soak.

Step 3: Trim Your Calluses and Corns

After the soak, use a pumice stone, emery board, or callus file to gently reduce corns and calluses. It may take a few trimmings before you can remove all of the hardened skin. Take care not to cut or file your skin too deeply.

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

Take It Slow

If it has been a long time between pedicures, don't try to remove calluses and corns in one sitting. (You may not be able to do so anyway.) Instead, break up the task over the course of two or three treatments 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. Then gently round the corners with an emery board.

You can push your cuticles back, but make every effort to 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 can ensure the wax temperature never exceeds 125 degrees Fahrenheit. There are also pre-packaged paraffin wax kits that can 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 Food-Grade Paraffin

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 moisturizer to your feet. The softened tissues will better absorb the emollients in the lotion and ensure softer, well-hydrated feet.

Gently massage your feet as you apply the lotion, stretching tendons in the toe joints and the arch of your feet. This is especially useful if you have plantar fasciitis, a disorder of the tissue that supports the arch.

After applying lotion, put on a pair of socks or wrap your feet in plastic wrap for an hour or two. Known as occlusive therapy, this step 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 contact a podiatrist if you have structural foot problems or pain. Some common foot concerns include:

  • 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 healthcare provider 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 onychomycosis. You may wish to 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 tend to be mixed.
  • Foot perspiration: Excessive sweating can be a breeding ground for fungus and odor. Try using an antiperspirant spray on your feet (rather than a deodorant that covers only smells). If foot odor is a problem, buy a shoe insert with activated charcoal. Excessive sweating (known as hyperhidrosis) can sometimes be treated with botox injections.
  • Inappropriate footwear: Sometimes, 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, a deformity.

Summary

Having pretty feet doesn't have to cost you an arm—or a leg. You can have pretty feet if you're willing to invest in the right products and take the time to give yourself a six-step pedicure. Start with removing your nail polish and then soak your feet, trim calluses and corns, cut your nails, give your feet a wax treatment, and moisturize and massage your feet.

A Word From Verywell

In the end, pretty feet are about more than aesthetics. Treatments like this one are not meant to cover up problems. So if you have a foot problem that you can no longer ignore, ask your healthcare provider 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). Then get ready to put your dancing shoes on.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How often should you soak your feet?

    Soaking your feet has many benefits, but there are no rules as to how often you should do it. You can soak your feet every day if you enjoy it—especially if your feet are sore from being on them a lot.

    If you are concerned about calluses, try soaking your feet for 30 minutes two or three times a week to soften them.

  • How do I get rid of calluses and corns on my feet?

    Corns and calluses are a build-up of hard, thick areas of skin that develop over time from friction, rubbing, or pressure on the skin. You can remove corns and calluses at home, but it can be a slow process. 

    Soak your feet in warm water for about 10 minutes. Use a wet pumice stone or emery board to gently scrape off dead tissue. Scrub in one direction and take care to not remove too much skin in one sitting. Then apply a moisturizing cream or lotion to your feet. 

    Repeat two or three times a week until your feet are smooth. Keep in mind that it takes time for corns and calluses to form, and it will also take time to work them off. 

  • What is a parafin wax treatment?

    Paraffin wax is a soft colorless wax that is solid at room temperature but softens when heated above 100 degrees F. It is used as a spa treatment to soften the skin on hands and feet. The warmth of the wax also increases blood flow and eases aches and pains. 

    The treatment involves dipping your hand or foot into a paraffin wax bath multiple times, covering it with a plastic bag or plastic wrap, then waiting 15 to 20 minutes to remove the wax. 

    The wax is a natural emollient that helps to soften and moisturize skin. 

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