June 15, 2024


Define Beauty Yourself

How to Do a DIY Pedicure at Home in 10 Easy Steps in 2023

Table of Contents

Fun fact about me: I am obsessed with giving myself at-home pedicures. I love everything about soaking my feet in a foot bath, sloughing off my dry calluses with a pumice stone, and slathering on my favorite creams and cuticle oils like a g’damn pro. I know you’re thinking that it sounds like a ton of work, but it’s shockingly easy and saves you a whole bunch of $$$—sounds like a pretty good deal, amiright?

So, if you’re ready to take the plunge and DIY your own pedicure at home, keep reading for the ultimate guide to salon-worthy pedicures, including all my tips and tricks for getting baby-soft feet, as well as a shit ton of product recs (think: the cutest fall nail polishes and gentle nail polish removers, and so much more).

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Gather your pedicure supplies

Before you set off on your at-home pedicure journey, make sure you have all the proper tools. (And because I know you’re thinking it: Don’t worry, we’ve got some really excellent product recs throughout this guide if you need some ideas.) You can decide how basic or fancy you want to get with your supplies, but in general, you’ll want to at least have the following:

Base & Top Coat

Top & Base Duo

Ella + Mila Top & Base Duo

Pedicure Tools

Manicure Pedicure Set

Tumkun Manicure Pedicure Set

Cuticle Oil

Cuticle Oil Pen

ECCO PURE Cuticle Oil Pen

Nail Polish

Nail Polish Set

Step 1: Prep your nails for your at-home pedicure

Time to finally get rid of the remnants from your last pedi (seriously, how long have you had that chipped-as-hell red?) and do a proper polish removal. To remove every last bit of color, soak a cotton pad in nail polish remover (I’m a fan of gentle, acetone-free formulas) and hold it on each nail for a few seconds to allow the paint to break down before you start swiping. If you want that perfectly smooth, lacquered finish at the end, don’t half-ass this step.

Pro tip: If you’re left with any weird stains or a yellow tinge (you’ll usually see this after removing darker colors, like red polish or black polish), rub cuticle oil over the surface of your nails to lighten any residue.

Nail Polish Remover Pads

On Sale

Nail Polish Remover Pads

Diamond Wipes Nail Polish Remover Pads

Now 10% Off

Cotton Rounds

ForPro Premium Stitched Cotton Round

ForPro Premium Stitched Cotton Round

Acetone-Free Nail Polish Remover

Soy Nail Polish Remover

ella+mila Soy Nail Polish Remover

Nail and Cuticle Oil

OPI ProSpa Nail & Cuticle Oil

OPI ProSpa Nail & Cuticle Oil

Step 2: Soak your toes and feet

Before you start soaking, your first job—and this is important—is to go around your house and gather every candle you can find. Oh, and get yourself a glass of wine while you’re at it. The trick to making an at-home pedicure feel like a spa experience instead of, you know, rubbing your own feet in your too-small-for-comfort apartment, is setting the ~mood~ at your makeshift pedicure station.

Once the ambiance is right, you’re ready to soak your feet—which softens tough skin and cuticles (and is downright relaxing). I suggest using a pedicure basin (aka a really big bowl) if you have one, but your bathtub is also a sound option. Fill ’er up with warm water and add a liberal scoop of skin-soothing bath salts (or use a cup of sea salt). Let your feet soak for a few minutes before moving to the next step.

This CBD Soak

Pearlescent CBD Bath Soak

Homebody Pearlescent CBD Bath Soak
Credit: Courtesy Image

This Foot File

Precisso Plus Pedicure File

Earth Therapeutics Precisso Plus Pedicure File

This Pumice Stone

On Sale

Pumice Stone

Pumice Valley Pumice Stone

Now 10% Off

This Bath Towel

Quick-Dry Bath Towels

AmazonBasics Quick-Dry Bath Towels

Step 3: Get rid of any dead skin

Okay, so, this is lowkey my favorite part. I know I’m weird, but it’s way satisfying to see how smooth your feet get after rubbing everything off. After patting your feet dry, grab a foot file or a pumice stone and go ham on your calluses, removing any and all dead skin. Be sure to really focus on your heels and any other calloused, hard areas. Scrape until your feet feel smooth, but don’t scrub your feet raw—you could end up causing irritation, which is never fun.

Step 4: Trim your toenails

Once your feet are smooth AF, it’s time to whip your toenails into shape. Reach for classic nail clippers to trim and cut your nails. Don’t worry about getting the edges perfect—you’ll take care of that in the next step.

Step 5: Shape your toenails

Now that your toenails are at a perfect length, it’s time to smooth them out. Pick up a nail file and shape the corners and edges. There’s no need to rush during this step—take your time filing until all of your nails are even.

Nail Clippers

Nail Clippers Set

Bestope Nail Clippers Set

Nail Files

Neon Hot Nail Files

Tweezerman Neon Hot Nail Files

Nail Buffer

On Sale

Nail Buffer Sanding Block Polisher Buffing File

Maryton Nail Buffer Sanding Block Polisher Buffing File

Now 33% Off

File and Buffer

Revlon Shape 'N' Buff File & Buffer

Revlon Shape ‘N’ Buff File & Buffer

Step 6: Add a few drops of cuticle oil

Don’t forget to pay special attention to your cuticles on each toe. While you can use an orange stick to push back your cuticles, save the trimming or cutting for the pros. Cuticles protect your nails from bacteria, and you shouldn’t trust yourself (or anyone, really) to mess with them—especially with that glass of wine in hand.

Instead, show them some love by working in a few drops of cuticle oil. It’ll make a major difference in the shine, health, and overall strength of your nails.

Growth Green Tea Cuticle Oil

Pear Nova Growth Green Tea Cuticle Oil

Nourishing Nail & Cuticle Oil

L’Occitane Nourishing Nail & Cuticle Oil

Sweet Almond Cuticle Revitalizing Oil

C Care Sweet Almond Cuticle Revitalizing Oil

Now 23% Off

Nail & Cuticle Oil SolarOil

CND Essentials Nail & Cuticle Oil SolarOil
Credit: Courtesy Image

Step 7: Massage your feet with lotion

With a foot cream or body lotion, begin massaging your toes, feet, and calves until, well, you wanna stop. Not only will this massage feel amazing, but it’ll also help moisturize your feet after all that scrubbing and soaking. Finish off by grabbing a cotton pad soaked with rubbing alcohol to clean the surface of each nail, removing any oily residue that could prevent your polish from sticking.

Foot Cream

On Sale

Walk The Walk Propolis Foot & Heel Cream

Hey Honey Walk The Walk Propolis Foot & Heel Cream

Body Lotion

Kukui Coconut After Bath Body Moisturizer

Epicuren Kukui Coconut After Bath Body Moisturizer

Now 30% Off

Rubbing Alcohol

Isopropyl Alcohol 99% Medical Grade

Viva Doria Isopropyl Alcohol 99% Medical Grade
Credit: Courtesy Image

Orange Sticks

Nail Art Orange Wood Sticks

Adecco LLC Nail Art Orange Wood Sticks

Step 8: Apply a layer of base coat

If you’re thinking that you can skip this step, pls reconsider. Since the base coat acts as a barrier between the natural oils that come from your nails and your actual polish, it’s super important to swipe it on if you want your pedicure to last. And who doesn’t want that?

Natural Nail Base Coat

OPI Natural Nail Base Coat

Now 30% Off

Credit: Courtesy Image

Hyper Repair Base Coat

JINsoon Hyper Repair Base Coat

Hard Rock Nail Strengthening Top and Base Coat

Deborah Lippmann Hard Rock Nail Strengthening Top and Base Coat

Nail Pure Base Coat

Nails Inc. Nail Pure Base Coat

Now 50% Off

Credit: Courtesy Image

Step 9: Paint your toenails

If you have toe separators, grab ’em. Otherwise, tear off a piece of paper towel, rolling or twisting it into a rope, and weaving it through your toes to prevent the polish from smudging. Apply two thin coats of your color of choice, letting the paint dry for a few minutes between each coat. If you kinda suck at painting inside the lines, use an orange stick to clean any mess-ups.

Toe Separators

Iridesi Toe Separators 12 Pack

Iridesi Toe Separators 12 Pack

Now 33% Off

Base Coat

On Sale

Natural Nail Base Coat

OPI Natural Nail Base Coat

Now 30% Off

Nail Polish

Nail Polish

Top Coat

Dry Fast Top Nail Coat

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Nail Coat

Step 10: Finish with a top coat

Unless you want your pedicure to chip the next day, you don’t want to skip this step, either. Layer on a top coat to seal in the nail polish. You’ll be left with a super shiny and long-lasting finish.

Miracle Gel 3.0 Shiny Top Coat

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel 3.0 Shiny Top Coat

Now 25% Off

Credit: Courtesy Image

Addicted To Speed Ultra Quick Dry Top Coat

Deborah Lippmann Addicted To Speed Ultra Quick Dry Top Coat
Credit: Courtesy Image

On Sale

Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat

Now 18% Off

Super Glossy Top Coat

Olive & June Super Glossy Top Coat

The final look

And there you have it: a salon-quality pedicure in the comfort of your own damn home. What are we spending our extra money on?!

Headshot of Siena Gagliano

Associate Editor

Siena Gagliano is the associate editor at Cosmopolitan, where she primarily covers beauty in the makeup, skin, and hair spaces, as well as some fashion and lifestyle. Wanna know how to get the best brows of your life? Gotchu. What about how to achieve ridiculously glowing skin, a super bouncy blowout, or exactly how to use that viral face mask? Check, check, and check. Before joining Cosmopolitan, Siena was a writer at Bustle and several other media outlets. As NYC’s newest resident, she has vowed to find the best (extra) dirty martini this city has to offer—and yes, that means ~attempting~ to try every cute cocktail spot in the city (hit her up with some recs, pls). Follow Siena on Instagram where you’ll see that her account is mostly dedicated to pics of her cute dog and that magazine life.

Headshot of Ama Kwarteng

Ama Kwarteng was previously the associate beauty editor at Cosmopolitan.

Headshot of Ruby Buddemeyer

Ruby was the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covered beauty across print and digital. Her work has appeared on The Zoe Report, Fashionista, and StyleCaster. Follow her on Instagram