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The Perfect Pedicure

The_Perfect_Pedicure_0It's can be easy to forget that you have toenails, since they stay hidden down there in your shoes all day. Toenails, however, are very much like your fingernails: they're made of keratin, the same protein in kitty claws and rhino horns, and can profit from the occasional pampering session. In fact, if you plan to wear open-toed shoes that display your toenails, regular pedicures and standard nail care are absolutely necessary. Why be embarrassed to wear those cute sandals, when all you need to do is spend a little time making your piggies presentable?

While you can, of course, turn to your favorite nail shop for a pedicure -- and should, occasionally -- you can also easily do it yourself. All you need are a few inexpensive items and a little time. First off, you'll need a wide bucket or foot bath filled with hot water. If the container has been used as a foot bath by someone other than you, clean the bucket thoroughly with disinfectant before you use it -- you don't want athlete's foot or fungal nail infections from someone else's feet. Once you've acquired either, they're a pain to get rid of. You can lessen your chances of infection by adding to the water a half-cup of Epsom salts, which acts as a disinfectant. Finally, fold a nice, cushiony bath towel and place it on the bottom of the hot water bath so you'll have someplace comfy to rest your feet.

Before you soak, you need to take care of the basics. Start by removing your old nail polish, if you've previously decorated your toenails. You can do this by soaking a cotton pad in nail polish remover, placing the pad on the toenail for a few seconds, and swiping the old polish away. Once this is taken care of, you'll need to cut your toenails with standard toenail clippers, straight across if possible. Then use a nail file to smooth the edges and shape your toenails. A square shape with rounded edges is recommended.

Now it's time for your soak! After about 5 minutes (more if you need it), take your feet out of the water and rest them on the edge of the foot bath. This is where the hard work begins. Take a foot file and use it to smooth away the calluses on your heels, the balls of your feet, and the outsides of your little toes. When you're done, take a dry towel and pat (don't rub) your feet dry. It's recommended that you leave your cuticles alone, but if you must, you can push them back with the rounded edge of the nail file to keep them under control. Be careful with your cuticles, though, because they protect your delicate nail beds; if they're damaged, you could end up with a nail bed infection. Cuticle damage can also lead to ingrown toenails, which ain't pretty and can take surgery to fix.

After taking care of your cuticles (if you do), spend a little time massaging your feet and toenails with moisturizing foot lotion. If you plan to polish your nails afterward, make sure you wash the lotion off your nails with soap and water. You can use a foam toe separator to keep your toes apart as you go about the toenail polish application process. The color you choose is up to you, but a bright, hot color is always recommended: something like orange-red or hot pink. Most experts don't consider earth tones and other darker colors appropriate for summer use -- and besides, you want to be noticed, don't you? Use a cotton swab soaked in polish remover to remove the occasional misses. If you expect your feet to be exposed to the light consistently, a clear topcoat with sunscreen is recommended so your color doesn't fade. In any case, once you've finished the process, wait three hours or so to put on closed-toe shoes, or your masterpiece might get smudged.

If your idea of the perfect pedicure is to have someone else do it, your best bet is a professional manicurist/pedicurist. Use the standard cautions when choosing a pedicurist: make sure she's licensed, and find out how her tools are treated. Among other things, her working area should be hygienic and spotless. The foot baths should be changed between customers, and each customer should get a new set of towels. All metal tools should be immediately sterilized in disinfectant after use, and all non-metal tools (like emery boards) should be new for each client. Watch her work, if you can, and note how carefully she handles her customers' feet. You've got a little leeway on other factors, but these items should be absolutely non-negotiable if you want to retain healthy toenails. If a particular nail salon doesn't meet your pedicure standards, then run -- don't walk -- to the next candidate on your list.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------If you are a business owner get listed at Best Personal Care Site, part of Localwin Network.
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