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Keep feet happy with an at-home pedicure

May 25, 2012

It was a Facebook post that made me wonder whether I had offensive feet.

The status update came from Jill, a high school friend who had always set the standard for fashion. Though we grew up in a rural area, she seemed to have an innate urban sensibility. Those of us who cared about personal aesthetics followed her lead.

So her early spring status update a couple years ago gave me pause.

It said this:

"REMINDER: If you're breaking out the open toes and flip-flops this weekend for the first time — P L E A S E remember your pedi first! Thanks!"

I began to chew my lip as I considered the sandals I'd been sporting for the last week or two. And my feet, which had not yet had a spring pedi.

In fact, I've only ever had a professional pedi once in my life and it was a gift. I'm sort of a when-I-find-the-time do-it-yourselfer.

"Does that count?" I wondered.

Certainly I was not going to ask in a Facebook comment forum. I might not pay to have my feet done, but I do have some dignity.

Instead, I began to steal glances at the feet of elegant women around me. I found myself filching a peek in grocery store lines, and nonchalantly casting my gaze to the toes of ladies in Sunday school. It's wrong, I think, but I did it.

I found that a select few women had perfectly smooth heels and big toes and impeccably applied polish.

Most, however, did not have flawless feet, but looked like they'd made an effort to erase winter's dry skin and paint on some color. That was somewhere along the lines of my regimen and came as a bit of a relief.

I do have a portable foot spa. I soak, slough, trim and paint. As a moisturizing treat, I put Vaseline on my feet and pull on some fuzzy socks before I go to sleep. For an extra tingly indulgence, I use Vick's VapoRub.

But I tend to be rough on my feet. My cardio workouts put pressure on them. I'll run outside in the snow in my bare feet to get the mail or play barefoot in the dirt and mud with my kids. I'll tiptoe barefoot over gravel rather than scraping up a nice pair of heels. And my shoe purchases tend to be based on style and value rather than foot health.

All these things can leave my phalanges in a funk.

If I did want to spring for a professional pedi, now would be the time. Many spas run specials this time of year. Certain media outlets even offer half-off pedi deals.

But for a less expensive home version, beauty experts offer the following tips.

  •  Clip nails straight across with a standard nail cutter. Leave a little edge to avoid ingrowth and infection. File smooth.
  •  Buff heels and balls of the feet and the big toes with a foot file.
  •  Seal skin with a foot cream.
  •  Dab cuticles with olive or baby oil on a cotton swab. Use an orange stick to gently push skin back from the nail. Use a cuticle trimmer if needed.
  •  Polish lasts longer on clean nails, so wipe with polish remover and dry. Use a base coat. Polish, painting the middle first, then the sides in three simple strokes. Add a clear topcoat. Allow about two minutes between coats.

I try not to smudge, but I usually do.

My status remains:

Happy with feet that get me where I need to go. If I can make them a little prettier on the way, toe-rific.

Alicia Notarianni is a reporter and feature writer for The Herald-Mail. Her email address is

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