Do you love pampering your feet and having pretty toe nails? If so, you’re going to LOVE this Chip-Free & Toxin-Free DIY Pedicure. If your feet are like mine they take a beating. They walk or hike 3-6 miles a day, stand up at work for many hours, swim, walk on the beach, practice yoga, and so much more. So make them feel great and look pretty with this chip-free & toxin-free DIY pedicure!
In fact, people often comment on my pretty toes, asking where I get my pedicures done. And they’re always shocked to find out I do them myself!? But for a variety of reasons, a DIY pedicure can be much safer than a salon pedicure.(1)
The problem with most pedicures is that they use a lot of toxic products. Luckily today there are may toxin-free alternatives. So I use products which are as toxin-free as I can find. And with my chip-free & toxin-free DIY pedicure SECRET, they usually last about 6-8 weeks. Plus my pretty toes put a big huge smile on my face every single time I look at them… giving me a giant boost of healthy oxytocin.
So Why DIY Pedicure?
While some people may prefer to go to a salon and get pampered for self-care and pedicures, I much prefer to love-up my own feet with my chip-free & toxin-free DIY pedicure! And here are a few reasons why:
- More than 50% of people with nail fungus contracted it from a nail salon. Yikes! And nail fungus is extremely hard to get rid of.(2)
- Most nail salons will cut your cuticles off, which can lead to infection. It’s much better for your cuticle to just be pushed back and not cut off.(3)
- Most nail salons use toxic products whether in the nail polish, or remover, or even in the scrubs and lotions they use on your feet. Not only is this toxic for you, it’s horrible for the salon workers who are exposed to these toxins day in and day out every day.(4)
- Some cheap Asian nail salons hide a dirty little secret. Some are a front for human trafficking. Sadly, many of these nail salon workers are actually slaves, painting nails during the day, and being pimped out for sex at night.(5)
Are Chip-Free & Toxin-Free DIY Pedicures really Toxin Free?
Luckily, now days there are actually quite a few brands of nail polish that are toxin-free (6)(7), or very low-toxin. I’ve been using Mineral Fusion and Gabriel polish for years, both of which are very low-toxin, but not toxin-free. However, recently new brands have come out which are completely toxin-free, so it’s time up up my game and try them out! I’ll have to wait for my next trip back to the States, as unfortunately it’s very hard to find toxin-free polish in Mexico.
Why I Ditched the Salon Pedi
Five or six years ago I was still getting regular pedicures at a nail salon. It was my one self-care indulgence because I’ve always loved taking good care of my feet. But I started getting concerned when I read articles like the ones mentioned above. And when I found out that a lot of the cheap nail salons are fronts for human trafficking that ended my trips to the salon. I wanted no part in promoting that.
To be clear there are some legitimate and top notch salons out there with none of the above mentioned problems, like my friend Gina’s Northwest Hand Foot, and Nails. But they are few and far between.
What I Learned from Nail Salons
Thankfully through many years of getting regular pedicures, I paid attention to what the nail technicians were doing. I was never one of those customers who sits back in the chair and reads a book, takes a nap, meditates, or listens to music. (I’m not knocking those that do, that just wasn’t me.)
I enjoyed interacting with the nail technicians. I felt that it showed respect and human kindness to acknowledge someone working on my feet. So I talked with them instead of just ignoring them. And I heard fascinating stories about women from the US, Vietnam, Thailand and Korea. I also learned which tricks produced longer lasting nail color, and which ones didn’t. I applied their secrets and discovered a few of my own along the way, to make my chip-free & toxin-free DIY pedicures last a really long time.
Start With the Right Chip-Free & Toxin-Free DIY Pedicure Supplies
Having the right chip-free & toxin-free DIY pedicure supplies makes all the difference in the world. And they don’t have to be expensive.
Below is a list of everything that I use:
- Multi-purpose foot brush, pumice stone, and file (like this Swissco 4-in-1)
- Nail clippers, nail file, orange wood cuticle stick, and toe separators
- Toxin-free nail polish remover(8)
- Organic foot scrub like NYR Organic Pumice Foot Scrub, (or this Melissa Hand Polish that doubles as an awesome foot scrub too.)
- Organic Foot Cream like NYR Organic Comfrey & Mallow Foot Balm, (or this NYR Organic Citrus Hand Softener)
- Toxin-free Base Coat Polish
- 1 or 2 Toxin-free Polish Color/s (I like to use a bright color on the bottom with a sheer color over the top to make my own fun colors!)
- Toxin-free Top Coat Polish
- Rubbing Alcohol and organic cotton rounds (this is the SECRET sauce!!)
- Plastic dishpan/tub or large stainless steel bowl for foot soak, plus a towel/rag you don’t mind getting polish on
- Lastly be sure to have a cool, refreshing beverage like this Hibiscus Tea!
Steps for the Perfect Chip-Free & Toxin-Free DIY Pedicure
My chip-free & toxin-free DIY pedicure aren’t fast, LOL! But slow-and-steady wins the race, and it’s one of the reasons they are chip-free. I take the time to do them right. I choose to make time to pamper my feet as part of my self-care routine once every 6 to 8 weeks. So if you’re looking for a quick and dirty DIY pedicure with tips to cut corners, this ain’t it! I generally spend about 60-90 minutes on my pedicures. And my feet think they are totally worth it. It’s a great opportunity to give yourself a good foot massage, and also look your feet over for anything that might be going awry, like corns, bunions, new moles, etc.
- Supplies: Gather all your supplies together on a table where you can easily reach everything, and put the towel or rag on the floor for your feet. Be sure to have a cool, refreshing beverage handy in the summer. Or some hot tea in the winter.
- Trim Nails: I like to clip my toenails before I soak my feet. For me they are easier to clip when they are dry than when they are damp/soft. I also clip my nails very short and straight across. This helps my pedicure to last a long time while my nails grow out. I clip them evenly so I rarely need to use a nail file.
- Foot Soak: Fill your plastic dish pan tub or big metal bowl with hot water as hot as you can stand (but not boiling) because it will cool very quickly. Part of the reason to soak your feet is that as the skin wrinkles and get pruny, it pulls away from the nails making them easier to paint.
- Foot Scrub: Soak your feet for 10-15 minutes while using the foot scrub and giving yourself a nice foot, ankle and leg massage. Use a pumice stone or callous grater to smooth out your dry spots and callouses, making your feet silky-smooth. Remember to show gratitude and give thanks to your feet, ankles and legs for all the hard work they do for you!
- Cuticles and Final Nail Prep: Just like prepping your house to paint it, the better you prep your nails the longer your pedicure will last. Once your feet are sufficiently pruny, take them out of the water and dry them with the towel. Push back the cuticles as you dry the nails. You can push your cuticles back with a towel or rag, using your thumb nails, or using an orange wood cuticle stick. I personally prefer to use my thumbnails to push cuticles back or to remove any excess dead skin that you can pull off around the nail. If there are any rough spots left over from clipping your nails use the nail file to smooth those down. Finally put your toe separators between your toes to keep them from touching each other as you paint.
- Long Lasting Nail Color Secret: Wahoo, the secret sauce! This trick will ensure your nail color lasts a very long time without chipping. Soak 1-2 cotton rounds with rubbing alcohol. (Cotton rounds work better than cotton balls which can leave little fuzzy lint around your nails to mar your pedicure.) Thoroughly wipe off each toenail and the skin around each nail with rubbing alcohol. This removes any residual oils or soaps from your nails. Then do not touch your nails at all. Oils from your fingers can prevent polish from adhering properly.
- Painting Your Nails: Now it’s time for the fun part, let’s get painting! Maybe because I’m right handed I start with my right pinky toe first and work left across my right foot to the big toe. Then I switch to the left foot starting with the pinky toe again and moving right to the big toe. Do what ever works best for you.
- Base Coat: Use a good, clear base-coat to evenly coat all your nails. One reason to use a base coat is so that the tint of the nail colors don’t stain your nails. There are two ways to go about painting your nails. The first way is to meticulously, carefully paint each nail keeping the polish off of your skin, or using an orange wood stick dipped in alcohol to remove any polish from your skin as you go along. While this method leaves less cleanup at the end it’s much slower going as you’re painting. The second way is my preferred method, and what I believe makes my pedicure nail color last so long without chipping (combined with the previously mentioned alcohol wipe.) I like to color outside the lines! So I completely coat each nail slopping polish over onto the skin all around each side of each nail, especially getting it underneath the tips of the nails. This is much faster and as you will see in the end, the dried nail polish easily peels right off of your skin.
- Two Coats of Color: Using two coats of color helps the color to remain vibrant without fading, and multiple coats make for a harder surface. Here’s where I like to play and have fun, mixing and matching colors. I usually use a bright, vibrant color for the first coat, topped with a more sheer or translucent color for the second coat. The key here is that you want to keep painting each coat, one right after the next, not waiting for them to dry in between. This helps each coat adhere to the next one. So once you have your base coat on go right to your first coat of color, then onto your second coat of color. And don’t worry about painting outside the lines.
- Top Coat: Finally it’s time for your top coat. I’ve had my “It’s Dry” Top Coat for about 5-years now and sadly it’s almost gone. That brand is no longer around so if you have a favorite toxin-free Top-Coat brand please let me know! Just like the other coats, apply this one after the second coat of color. And again, don’t worry about painting outside the lines. We’ll clean up later. Now you’ll want to sit and relax for about 10-15 minutes letting your nails start to dry…and sipping your cool (or hot) beverage. Do NOT touch your nails to see if they are dry. You don’t want to risk marring them.
- Ice Foot Bath: After about 15 minutes, carefully take your tub of foot soak water and dump it out. Keep your toe separators on, even if it makes you walk a bit duck-like! (If you’re lucky maybe your spouse or partner will help with this step!) Rinse the tub/bowl and refill it with cold water + ice cubes. It will only feel cold for bit and the cold helps with circulation and invigorates your feet! It also helps the nail polish to dry more quickly. Continue to relax and soak your feet in the ice bath for another 15 to 20 minutes. Remove them from the tub and just shake them dry, set your feet on the towel or rag, and pat dry any water on your feet, being careful to not get the towel near the nails in case they are still tacky.
- Foot Massage: Now it’s time to massage your feet and legs with a nice foot cream or body cream. I love NYR Organic Comfrey & Mallow Foot Balm or NYR Organic Citrus Hand Softener. You can put the lotion or cream right over the tops of your nails. Then massage the cream or balm into both feet, ankles, calves, shins, and on up to your knees. With the cream massaged in, it’s now time to clean up the excess polish on your skin.
- Clean up the Mess!: Aat this point the polish should be dry enough, and the oils from the cream or lotion should enable you to just peel up the excess polish from around your nails. If the polish on your skin still feels tacky, then leave it be for another hour or so. You could also take a shower, or soak your feet again. When the skin shrivels up and pulls away from the nail the excess polish should peel right off.
- Tips: Do NOT put socks on your feet for another 4-5 hours or you’ll risk leaving a sock imprint in your polish. Also it’s not recommended to do your DIY pedicure just before bed as your sheets can also leave marks on your nails. (I learned that the hard way!) Also, I usually trim my polished nails after about 3-4 weeks. I’m careful with the nail clippers and quickly cut straight across each nail, which rarely to never mars the polish and gives me another 3-4 weeks.
While that might seem like a lot of effort to some, spending an hour or two loving up my feet every 6-8 weeks, so they can look and feel beautiful is totally worth it to me. Your feet do a lot for you so give them back this lil’ bit of love with this chip-free & toxin-free DIY pedicure. Those pretty toes will put a smile on your face on your yoga mat, at the pool or beach, or in your summer sandals.
Please share with your friends and family, and leave a comment to let me know your fave chip-free & toxin-free DIY pedicure tips and products.