Sunday 23 October 2016

Beauty: Best foot forward... with the best DIY pedicures

Feet looking gnarly? Don't worry, we'll have them sandal-ready in no time with our top guide to DIY pedicures

Andrea Byrne

Published 19/07/2015 | 02:30

Ready, pedi, go: Miranda Kerr's toes are catwalk-ready.
Ready, pedi, go: Miranda Kerr's toes are catwalk-ready.
Sugar scrub
Nourish cuticle oil
Stick with it

We all know that getting bikini-ready can cost a small fortune, so much so, that your holiday budget could easily be blown before you even set foot on foreign soil. And while there are certain beauty treatments that aren't advisable to do yourself, such as tinting brows and eyelashes and bikini waxing, there are those that, with the right techniques you can easily master at home - none more so than a DIY pedicure.

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To show you how to get perfect tootsies à la Miranda Kerr (right), we've enlisted the help of Michelle Burke, manicurist and pedicurist to a heap of Irish celebs, including Holly Carpenter and Rosanna Davison.

According to Michelle, who has a salon on main street in Dublin's Dundrum, the best toenail shape is short and square, advising that we round off any sharp corners using a smooth file.

Also, she says that a common mistake people make when doing DIY pedicures is to cut cuticles.

"You can very gently push back the cuticle after you have soaked the feet. I don't recommend cutting your cuticles unless it's to remove a loose piece of skin that's practically waving at you. An example of this would be a hangnail," she says, adding, "the cuticle is there for a reason, to protect the matrix of the nail where the new nail cells are formed. Removing the cuticle is leaving you open to infection; once you clip it off you're creating a point of entry for bacteria. It's unsightly to have red, raw skin around the nails where the cuticle has been removed - a definite no-no."

Dos and Don'ts

● For an extra boost, add epsom salts, tea tree oil or peppermint oil to your foot soak. Epsom salts help to relieve pain by pulling toxins out of the body. Peppermint is great for releasing tension and helps relieve aches and pains. Tea tree is antifungal and antibacterial, perfect to use for feet. This mix of oils also works well at combating odour.

● Always use a stainless steel cuticle pusher, as this can be sanitised fully.

● Use a non-acetone nail polish remover to prevent drying out of your natural nails.

● Do use a cuticle oil and moisturiser daily. Build this into your routine to keep feet, hands and nails nourished.

● Don't cut your nails too short, this could lead to ingrown toenails.

● Don't use blades at home to remove hard skin, leave that job to a professional. Visit your chiropodist/podiatrist for safe removal of severe hard skin build-up.

● Apply firm pressure when moisturising the feet and legs. Using circular movement with the thumbs, pay particular attention to the soles of the feet. This is great for relieving tension.

● After polish application, wait 15 minutes and then apply a layer of cuticle oil on top of the polish, this helps the polish dry faster. My favourite is Gelish's Nourish cuticle oil.

Top tip

For an at-home foot massage, place some marbles in a bowl of warm water and roll your feet back and forth over them!

How to do a DIY pedicure

A step-by-step guide with Michelle Burke

1. Soak feet in a basin of warm water for approx 10 minutes.

2. Use your favourite salt or sugar scrub to exfoliate the skin on the feet and legs. Rinse and dry feet thoroughly.

3. Using a foot file, gently buff away hard skin, paying attention to the heel, ball of foot, side of big toe. Rinse and dry feet.

4. Using a soft nail file - not an emery board - shape the nail straight across. Round off any sharp corners into a soft square.

5. Gently push back the cuticle, using a stainless steel cuticle pusher.

6. Buff the surface of the nail plate with a nail buffer to remove staining and to bring the nail to a high shine.

7. Apply cuticle oil to your nails and surrounding skin followed by your chosen moisturiser.

8. Wipe nail polish remover over the nails to remove oils from the nail plate. Separate the toes using separators or rolled up tissue paper.

9. Apply base coat to the nails. When applying your polish, build up your colour coat in 2-3 thin layers.

10. Always finish with a top coat to protect your polish and to create a super shiny or matte finish.

DIY Pedicure Toolkit

Express Pedi with Diamond Crystals, €49.99, Scholl, available nationwide

A highly efficient little tool that buffs away even the most stubborn rough skin and calluses.

Mango and Mandarin Sugar Scrub, €30, BCL Spa Organics, available from Michelle Burke Nails 53 Main Street, Dundrum, Dublin 16

Contains organic Argan Oil along with essential oils and natural extracts to gently exfoliate, moisturise and leave the skin silky smooth. It smells divine too.

Nourish Cuticle Oil, €8, Gelish, available in selected beauty salons nationwide

Its unique blend of Grapeseed Oil, Sesame and Vitamin E ensures your cuticles and nails stay in optimum condition.

Stick With It Base Coat, €10.99, Morgan Taylor, available from

A dream to work with, it acts like double-sided tape; creating a bond with the natural nail and the polish applied. It also really helps your polish application last longer.

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