Please your feet with this step-by-step pedicure.

By By Maureen Healy
August 10, 2006
Hornick/Rivlin

A thorough pedicure can be like meditation: It smoothes awaysigns of stress, soothes your lower legs and feet, and relaxes youdown to your toes. But you don't need to seek the ministrations ofa trained professional to get that relaxed feeling―or silky,sexy feet. Just follow these instructions, and step out with yourbest foot forward.

Cut and Buff

First, remove any old toenail polish. If needed, lightly go overnails with a buffing block to remove any stains left by darkcolors.

Now it's time to trim. "Cut toenails square or straight acrosswith a nail clipper or manicure scissors," says Julie Serquinia,owner of Paint Shop, a Beverly Hills, California, nail salon."Don't cut too far down on the corners; it can cause ingrowntoenails."

Then use an emery board to eliminate jagged nail edges, whichcan snag socks or pantyhose.

Soak and Soften

Foot soaks offer a chance to immerse and relax tired feet in adeliciously scented warm-water bath.

Start by filling a plastic foot bath or disposable aluminumroasting pan with warm water.

Or, for real luxury, use a pedicure bath, which is just like aJacuzzi for your feet.

Next, add a few drops of an essential oil (lavender relaxes,peppermint refreshes) or try a commercial soak.

Scrub and Rub

Your foot soak softened the dry skin; now it's time to remove asmuch of that skin as possible. First, rub in a softening cuticlecream. Then, using an orangewood or birchwood stick (available atdrugstores), gently scrape around the nail plate at the cuticleline. "You'll see what looks like the sheer layer of an onion skin;that's what you want to gently push back," Arnold says. "But becareful, because the cuticle area is like a seal that protectsliving tissue and the nail matrix from infection."

To shed tough excess skin, you'll need an exfoliating scrub."Scrubs use an abrasive such as sea salt, ground pumice, or nutshells to pull dead skin cells off the surface of the foot," saysBecca Armijo, a beauty professional at Trilogy Spa in HermosaBeach, California. Rinse, and then use a foot brush to removeremaining dry skin.

If you have calluses, a foot paddle or pumice stone (availableat drugstores) can gently sand them away on the heels or balls ofthe feet. But don't use them on bony areas like the side of the bigtoe or pinky toe, Armijo says, or you can break the skin.

Never use scissors to peel or cut skin off your feet, no matterhow dry or callused. Even if your feet need extreme care, bepatient: Soft skin will eventually emerge after a week or two offaithful moisturizing and exfoliating.

Massage and Moisturize

Moisturizing every night and in the morning after your shower(to lock in moisture) will keep your feet soft and reduce the needfor heavy scrubbing during your pedicure. Look for lotions withnatural oils such as shea butter, cocoa butter, vitamin E, andavocado oil, which help condition and protect the skin.

And don't be afraid to apply some pressure. "Massaging relaxesthe muscles, increases blood flow, decreases inflammation, andhelps distribute the skin's natural oils," Serquinia says. "Workthe moisturizer along the ball of the foot, the arch, the heel, andthe ankle." For even more indulgence, massage all the way up toyour knees.

Finally, after a long day at the office or lots of playing onthe beach, give your feet a cool treat with a relaxing lotion orspray.

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