Each year, I visit my favorite local spa for a pedicure on my birthday. It’s not just a matter of personal hygiene. It’s about relaxing and pampering myself. It’s about wearing a plush robe, sitting in a dimly lit room, breathing in aromatherapy scents, listening to the sound of Asian mandolins, and enjoying a steaming hot cup of Aveda tea. A professional pedicure alleviates my cracked heels and calluses — which could become a portal to infection — and returns me to fresh, baby-soft skin again. Every time I go, I say, “I should do this regularly — like once a month!” While a writer’s salary is entirely livable, shelling out $60 for this self-indulgence every month gives me pause. That’s why I decided to do home pedicures and save a visit to the professionals for my annual birthday treat.
Foot Care Tip 1: The Prep
To create a spa-like atmosphere, I light a few aromatherapy candles in my bathroom, bring in a vase of fresh flowers, and get into a comfy robe. I have a pair of slippers and a soft bath towel dedicated solely to “home spa day.” I also start every home pedicure with a cup of tea to relax me. There are many types of tea out there, but the only one that I really crave is Aveda’s comforting tea, a soothing caffeine-free blend with licorice and peppermint. For music, you can check out Pandora’s new age spa station to discover artists that appeal to your particular taste.
Foot Care Tip 2: The Foot Soak
You may be tempted to crank up the heat, thinking that’ll relax the tissues, but really, super hot water will dry out your skin, so you’ll want to keep the water to a pleasant warm temperature that’s not steaming. What you put in the soak is important too, because a harsh detergent will strip your skin of its natural oils and cause dryness. The easiest way to make your own foot soak is to combine 1 part Epsom salt with 1 part baking soda and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil — be it lavender, chamomile, eucalyptus, lemon, orange, or mint. I fill my foot basin with marbles to rub my feet over for a massage as I soak.
Foot Care Tip 3: The Skin Conditioning
After the wash is finished, I put on a pair of exfoliating gloves and use a foot scrub to remove the dead skin. I use a pumice stone along my cracked heels and a callus file on other areas of dead skin. A wooden brush is used for the final once-over. I rinse my feet again and take special care to dry between the toes (where athlete’s foot can grow). I finish by applying a rich moisturizing lotion and massaging it in using the techniques in the foot reflexology video below.
There are far too many foot moisturizers to go into here. I’m not committed to one particular type. You can try the Elemis Spa At Home Treat Your Feet cream, L’Occitane Shea Butter Dry Skin Foot Cream, or Burt’s Bees Coconut Foot Cream.
Foot Care Tip 4: The Nails
The best time to cut your nails is after a foot soak because they are nice and soft. Women’s Day lists many helpful tools if you’re not sure what to use. I clip the nails, file the edges, gently nudge back the cuticles, and massage on cuticle oil. Then I get out a toe spreader and paint my nails using clear base and top coats, as well as the salon-caliber OPI polish.
Foot Care Tip 5: The Sanitization
Lastly, I figure, “What is the point of giving my feet the royal treatment if I’m just going to stick them into dirty shoes?” So I take this time to sanitize my favorite pairs of shoes with germicidal ultraviolet light. UV light is naturally found in the sun, but it can also be utilized by manufacturers for a variety of purposes. Hospitals and professional spas often use UV radiation to sterilize rooms, tools, and equipment. I have purchased the SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer to regularly kill the bacteria, fungi, viruses, and pathogens in my footwear. I know that coming into contact with microbes is inevitable, but I can sleep easier at night knowing that I’ve made the effort to limit my exposure. I find that my shoes smell fresher after a treatment, too. You can buy one for your home here!