1- Soak It Up The first thing you should do is soak your feet in warm (not hot) water in your bathtub, a small foot tub or foot bath for five to 10 minutes. "Add a few drops of essential oils like rosemary and peppermint to invigorate your feet during an early morning pedicure, or add drops of lavender or rose to help relax them after a long day," suggests aesthetician Stephanie Tourles, author of Natural Foot Care (Storey Books, 1998). A few drops of tea tree oil or clove oil in your foot bath can also help treat fungal infections, she says, and a couple of drops of pine, tea tree, lemongrass or eucalyptus oils can banish odors. Then, as your feet are soaking, use a toenail brush to clean your nails and feet.
2 - Scrub-a-Dub-Dub Once the warm water has softened the skin on your feet, gently scrub the bottoms--concentrating on the heels-- with an exfoliating scrub and pumice stone or abrasive pedicure file. You can also use a natural oatmeal-based exfoliator, suggests Tourles. Simply mix 1 /4 cup of oatmeal with 1 /8 cup of water until it is the consistency of a grainy paste, then gently rub it all over your feet in small circular motions. Be careful not to exfoliate too much of the outer skin away. This thick layer acts as the body's protection--which is why many podiatrists advise against using a callus razor (a special device used for shaving dry skin from the feet).
3- Cuticle Control Dry your feet, making sure to get between the toes, an area that can become a breeding ground for bacteria and cause infection if not dried properly. Then massage a cuticle cream into the cuticles, or use almond, avocado or olive oil around the base of your toenails. Gently push back the cuticles with an orange stick, but don't cut them since they provide protection between your nail and nail bed, the whole piece of skin that the nail is attached to. It runs from the bottom of the white tip of the nail to the base of the cuticle. (You can also take the orange stick and gently run it along the undersides of your toenails to clean them.) Finally, place a tiny drop of one of the cuticle oils onto each nail, and buff them to increase their strength and shine.
4 - Rubbing It In Using small, circular motions, massage your feet and ankles with a moisturizer mixed with a touch of your favorite essential oil (like rosemary, peppermint or eucalyptus), or just massage a little coconut, olive or avocado oil mixed with essential oils into your feet. If you want, you can splurge on a footsie roller (see "Editors' Picks," p. 98) and give yourself a home foot massage. (A rolling pin will also do the job.) Roll each foot over the device for about five minutes, and then slip on a pair of cotton socks for about 15 minutes to help your feet absorb the moisturizer.
5 - Short and Sweet It's much easier to cut thick toenails after moisturizing (which is why this step comes now). Cut them with a straightedge toenail clipper, leaving the nail length closer to the tips of your toes than to the nail bed. (If you cut them too short, they're more likely to grow into the skin, causing painful ingrown toenails.) Then file and shape your nails, making sure to file them in one direction. Sawing back and forth will weaken nails, causing them to split or break.
6 - Pre-Polish Prep Clean the oil and debris from both the tops of your nails and beneath them with a piece of cotton wrapped around an orange stick that you dip into a non- ace-tone nail polish remover (it will be stated on the label). Be sure to separate your toes with cotton balls or foam toe separators to keep them from rubbing against one another and smudging the polish.
7 Polished to Perfection Once you've moisturized, filed and cleaned your toenails, apply a clear base coat of polish--this will help your pedicure last longer. Then apply two coats of color and finish with a top coat, which will help set the polish. For natural-looking toenails, give them a French pedicure. First buff them to a nice luster, then use a white nail pencil (available at any drugstore) to paint a white stripe over the top of the nail tips and finally paint a pale pink polish on the surface. No matter what type you use, polish takes at least 15 minutes to dry. Use the time to put your feet up and relax.
Do this regularly so ur skin doesnt become flaky. In no time, you'll have soft, beautiful feet.