Secrets of the Perfect Pedi
At the first sign of warm weather, people begin phasing out their winter wardrobe in favor of spring and summer fashions – a transition that would be incomplete without sandals in every shape, size and color. However, after months hidden inside of shoes, most toes aren’t ready for to make an appearance without a tune up in the form of a pedicure.
While the economy continues its tailspin, few people can part with the roughly $20 many pedicures cost but the good news is that with some easy tips, at-home pedicures can easily rival those offered at even the chicest nail salon.
If you just clip the nails and swipe some nail polish on, the results are sure to look amateur. It’s vital to take caution when cleaning and preparing the skin and nails on the feet to avoid the spread of infections and fungus. Dr. Michael Perlstein, a board certified Brooklyn-based podiatrist says that safely performing a spa-level pedicure is simple, with just a few steps.
Toeing the line between long and short
Keep toenails cut to a manageable level. According to Dr. Perlstein, toenails should never be permitted to grow longer than the tip of the toe – if they do grow too long, the pressure from shoes (even sandals with straps that lay on the toes) can cause ingrown toenails. “It’s imperative that women keep toenails short and that they file them or cut them straight across, lessening the chance that pressure will force the nail to grow into the skin,” warns Dr. Perlstein.
Take a dip
This is the step that’s most often forgotten about in at-home pedicures because women don’t want to go through the hassle of filling a footbath and then cleaning it out or they want to save time. Bad move, says Dr. Perlstein, not only is a foot soak relaxing, it also softens things up. “A five to 10 minute soak softens skin, most importantly any calloused skin, as well as the cuticles,” explains Dr. Perlstein. “A way to get around it is by doing the pedicure immediately after showering.” Whichever route you choose, follow up by cleaning the toenails with a toenail brush and applying moisturizer.
Getting Down To Business
Cut out the cuticle cutting
The cuticle seals the area between the actual nail and the nail bed to prevent bacteria from entering the body. Breaking that seal often leads to infection. “If a woman doesn’t like the appearance of the cuticle, she can gently push it back after the bath has softened the cuticle,” Dr. Perlstein says, adding that women can use clippers to remove hanging skin in the area of the cuticle.
Beware the blade, opt for a pumice stone instead
Dr. Perlstein cautions that using a blade to remove calluses is a surefire way to invite viruses and infections to take hold. “There’s no way for a woman to know just how deep the callused areas on her feet are, which is why so often you see women not only shave off dead skin, but nick the healthy skin under it.” Dr. Perlstein added that there are effective alternatives. “A pumice stone can work wonders on hardened skin and in the case that the pumice stone doesn’t take care of a callus after it has been soaking, you can check in with your podiatrist and let them safely shave it off.”
Nailing the at-home pedicure
Once the feet are cleaned and the nails and skin are prepped, the final step is to apply polish - this summer it's all about the brights! Use nail polish remover to take clear the nails of any residue from the lotion or foot bath and after carefully applying some color, the result is a salon-worthy pedicure without leaving home!
About Dr. Michael Perlstein
Dr. Perlstein is board certified in Podiatric Orthopedics and a licensed pharmacist and has treated over 25,000 patients since 1986. He travels throughout the United States to attend professional conferences and participate in continued education courses to bring the most cutting-edge techniques and technology to his patients. Dr. Perlstein is a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association, The New York State Medical Association, The American Diabetes Association and The American Professional Wound Care Association. In addition to his state-of-the art practice in Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Perlstein has orthopedic surgical privileges at Long Island College Hospital also located in Brooklyn, as well as in Manhattan.