The newbie's guide to the perfect DIY summer pedicure

Your feet have been hibernating in slipper socks for the past year—and it’s finally time to set them free. (Hello, cute slides and barefoot beach days!)

image: @essie

FULL CONFESSION: Other than my dog Freddie, there’s not much I love more than an amazing salon pedi—cushy chairs, endless colors, my feet being pumiced and polished to perfection. And while I treasure the chance to leave my toes to the pros, trust: If you want to save money (or don’t feel totally safe going to the salon just yet), you’re more than capable of giving yourself a bomb at-home pedicure. Ahead, you’ll find the simple steps that’ll get your DIY pedicure routine on lock.

1. START WITH A SOAK. Fill a tub with warm water and add a scoop of Epsom salt (find it at most drugstores or go luxe with French Girl Organics Rose Sea Soak Calming Bath Salts, ($22, Let your feet chill in there for 15 minutes. “This softens the nails, making them easier to clip,” explains Marcela Correa, a licensed medical pedicurist and owner of Medi Pedi NYC.

2. CLIP CAUTIOUSLY. “Make sure to cut and file your nails straight across,” says Correa (cutting too far down in the corners could lead to ingrown toenails). Use quality clippers like the Tweezerman Gear Precision Grip Toenail Clipper ($13,

3. CARE FOR YOUR CUTICLES. Apply a cuticle oil to soften the cuticles (olive or jojoba oil works, too) before carefully pushing them back with a tool like the Revlon Dual-Ended Nail Groomer ($5,

image: @leminimacaron

4. BUFF THE BOTTOMS. If you’ve got blisters and calluses, “use a foot pumice to buff your feet before rinsing away the dead skin,” suggests Jin Soon Choi, celebrity manicurist and founder of Jin Soon Hand and Foot Spa in New York City (try Jin Soon Foot Pumice Stone, $9, Warning: Don’t go overboard with scrubbing—a little exfoliation goes a long way.

5. MAKE SURE TO MOISTURIZE. We use lotion on our face, arms and legs, but our feet are often forgotten. “Apply a thick moisturizer right before bed, then slip on a pair of cotton socks and let the cream soak in overnight,” says Choi. Try Earth Therapeutics Tea Tree Oil Foot Repair Balm ($10,

6. STAY SMOOTH. We use alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) to help clear away clogged pores and fight acne on our faces—but they can also keep your feet feeling silky. A foot cream formulated with an AHA-like lactic acid buffs away dead skin cells *and* actually locks in moisture. Use AmLactin Foot Repair Foot Cream Therapy ($10, as maintenance between pedis.


For dedicated pedicure enthusiasts, upgrade your at-home arsenal with The Pedi Kit by Olive & June ($70, It includes all the basics (a foot file, nail file, cuticle pusher, mini buffer, clippers, toe separators, polish and way more) plus some very ~extra~ accessories (like foot serum, the perfect cleanup brush and the Posey, a foot positioner and storage system that makes it easy and comfortable to reach your tootsies).

image: @oliveandjune

Need a serious skin-smoothing solution?

Sometimes, scrubbing and moisturizing just isn’t enough. Handle even the most stubborn calluses and cracks with a full-on foot peel like Baby Foot ($25, The cult classic foot mask removes all the dead skin from your feet over a two-week period. (Watching your feet flake is, yes, a little gross—but also sooo satisfying.) Be sure to try it at least 14 days before you plan on wearing sandals to hide the shedding safely in your sneakers.


Try these tips for the perfect paint job

image: @dazzle_dry

“Start with a base coat to help prep the nails for polish, similar to how a primer works for makeup,” explains celebrity manicurist Jin Soon Choi. As you add your color, be sure to take your time and apply the coats as thinly as possible (gloppy paint takes longer to dry, leads to more smudges and chips faster).

Got some polish on your skin? Wait until you’ve finished your pedi, then dip a cotton swab in nail polish remover and wipe it off, says Choi. No one will ever know you painted outside the lines.

And we know you know, but we’re still going to say it: Skip the sneakers for the rest of the day. “Always wear sandals after a pedi,” advises Smith & Cult nail ambassador Jessica Tong. Any polish, but especially dark shades, can take longer to fully set in hot ‘n’ humid temps.

Pedis are typically good for two weeks or so, but you can stretch that out. “Polish stays on your toes longer than your fingers because we’re constantly using our hands,” says Choi. You can extend wear time by applying a clear topcoat every few days to protect the polish and add shine.


The experts have spoken: *These* are the coolest colors of the season...

image: @essie

Acidic undertones give the classic sunshiney shade an edgy new twist. TRY: Essie Expressie Quick-Dry Nail Polish in Taxi Hopping, $9, drugstores.

This shimmery lavender/silver hybrid hue is ethereal and otherworldly. TRY: Smith & Cult Nail Lacquer in 5th Ave Fortress, $18,

Nothing but beach days ahead, bb. TRY: L.A. Colors Mermaid Magic Nail Polish in Sea Life, $3,

This gorgeous greige goes with everything. TRY: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in To the Taupe, $10, drugstores.

That upcoming internship interview? Boost your confidence with a standout shade. TRY: GLU Nail Polish in Crimson, $9,

When only the hottest hue will do. TRY: Base Coat in #Treatyoself, $20,

Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our June/July 2021 issue. Want more? Read the print mag for free *today* when you click HERE.


by Erin Reimel; Edited for digital by Erin Sargent | 6/21/2021