How To Paint Your Toes For A Perfect Pedicure Every Time

You don't need to go to the salon for a quality pedi.

Last updated on Feb 28, 2023

woman painting her toes Getty Images via Canva

Giving yourself a manicure is simple enough, but taking the time to do an at home pedicure is also a worthwhile activity.

It doesn't take very long and is actually a pretty easy process. Plus, it's a relaxing way to devote some time to yourself.

But exactly how do you get that salon treatment at home? Luckily, you can give yourself a perfect pedicure with the right guidance.

RELATED: Why Women Who Have Tested The 'Red Nail Theory' Say They're Attracting More Men


How to Give Yourself a Pedicure At Home

1. Gather what you need.

Before you start anything, be sure to collect the items you will need for your pedicure. These include:

  • Nail polish remover
  • Cotton pads
  • Straight edge clippers
  • Dual grit file
  • Nail buffer
  • Foot file
  • Scrub
  • Lotion
  • Foot soak or liquid soap
  • Cuticle serum
  • Towel
  • Base coat
  • Nail polish
  • Quick-drying top coat

Once you've collected the items, "set up shop," so to speak, where you will be able to sit and work comfortably.

2. Remove your old nail polish.

It's important to always start a pedicure on a clean slate, so remove all the old nail polish before starting your new pedicure.


“Use nail polish remover and wipe away all traces of old nail polish or any excess oils on your nail bed,” says Niquishia Hassette, head esthetician and owner of InnoSense Spa.

For flat (regular) nail polish, soak a cotton pad in nail polish remover and apply to the nails, rubbing in a circular motion. Repeat until all traces of old polish have been removed.

For acrylics and gel nail polish, file the top layer of the nail, then apply a cotton pad soaked in acetone to the nail. Immediately wrap with aluminum for 10-20 minutes. Add another soaked cotton pad if needed.

3. Soak your feet and relax.

This is the fun part of giving yourself a pedicure — because everyone deserves a bit of downtime!


According to Hassette, “Fill your tub with warm water and Epsom salt, add 3 drops of lavender essential oil, and let your feet soak for 15 minutes.” While you’re in rest and relaxation mode, you can even add a face mask.

4. Remove the dead skin.

Do your feet feel itchy or rough? You may need to remove the dead skin build-up. “After drying off your feet, use a foot file to remove any dead skin from calloused, hard areas,” Hassette advises.

Pay attention to the balls of your feet, the sides, and your heels. Work those areas until they feel smooth, but don’t overdo it — you could end up causing irritation.

5. Apply cuticle oil and moisturize.

Don't try to cut your cuticles at home; instead, leave that step to the professionals. However, you can treat them with cuticle oil.


Apply any cuticle oil of your choice to the base of your nail. After applying the oil, massage it into the cuticle until the skin absorbs it. Follow with lotion and massage for 3-5 minutes. Then, moisturize your feet with any lotion to keep the skin hydrated and smooth.

Why use cuticle oil? It's simple. As Hassette says, “Cuticle oil keeps your feet soft and moisturized.”

RELATED: 16 Ways To Stop Biting Your Nails & Break Your Bad Habit For Good

6. Give your feet and legs a massage.

One optional step that will definitely give you that "salon treatment" feeling is to exfoliate your legs and feet.

Giving them a good massage with a salt or sugar scrub softens skin and removes any dead skin cells still lurking. Plus, you will feel more relaxed and refreshed.


If you have a partner who wants to help out, they can even do this part for you. Because who doesn't want a foot massage?

7. File and shape your nails.

Use a nail trimmer to achieve the length and shape you want. When you come across hangnails, be sure to trim them only and not your cuticles.

Cut the nail straight across, keeping it as even as possible. Then, use a nail file to shape the nail, slowly moving from left to right, and then from right to left, on each toe.

“I recommend cutting straight across and then going in with a nail file to buff out the corners. The cuticle is a barrier to protect your surrounding skin and protect against infection, so don't touch them,” Hassette adds.


8. Apply a base coat.

A foundation here is much like a primer on your face: it holds everything in place. It's important to remember your base coat because it gives your nail polish something to adhere to besides your actual nails.

After applying your base coat, allow it to dry for two minutes.

9. Apply the nail polish.

Now, you’re ready to add color.

Apply two to three coats of nail polish, making sure each coat has dried before applying the next coat. Build thin coats of polish, as thick coats will look clumpy and take longer to dry.


Be sure to remove traces of the lotion and cuticle oil from your massage, and apply your polish starting with the left foot, then the right foot.

"Polish starting from the base of the nail (right above the cuticles), moving to the free edge (tip of the nail). Using 1 drop of polish on one side of the brush, try to cover the entire nail with 2-3 upward strokes. This will ensure that the polish will be neat, as well as thick," Hassette instructs.

10. Finish with a quick-drying top coat.

Finish with a top coat so your nails maintain high shine and luster. This keeps nails shiny and firm and maintains that color and sheen longer.

Now, while some may think that it takes nail polish only a few minutes to try, it actually takes upwards of about 8 hours! Because of this, Hassette recommends sticking your feet in cold water for a few minutes to help your nail polish solidify.


Finally, refrain from wearing shoes. As Hassette continues, "With 2-3 layers of nail polish and a quick-drying top coat, the polish will harden. But it takes regular nail polish 8 hours to dry completely, so it's advised to avoid wearing shoes within that time frame to reduce smudging."

RELATED: 15 Ways To Make Your Manicure Last — And Get Your Nails To Grow Fast!

Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly.