Sandal season has arrived... and I haven't had a pedicure in literally months thanks to COVID-19. Once all this sheltering-in-place began to take a toll on my once salon-smooth feet, they became Sahara-dry and calloused with overgrown cuticles worthy of a horror film. That's when I started taking the business of at-home pedicures products more seriously, and my quest for the best at-home pedicure products began in earnest.
To be frank, a mishap with a pair of extra-sharp cuticle trimmers left me questioning my ability to rehabilitate my feet. But New York-based podiatrist, Krista Archer DPM, who performs medical pedicures at her practice, revealed that many of us struggle. "While DIY pedicures are a hot topic, they are not so easy to pull off," she laments. "They require [both] dexterity and flexibility."
Even Hollywood's top nail artists are feeling the pedicure-related pains of shutdown. "Even though I am a professional nail stylist, treating myself to bi-weekly pedicures was my guilty pleasure," reveals Mazz Hanna, celebrity nail stylist and founder of Mazz Hanna. "That came to a screeching halt with COVID, and I have been taking matters into my own hands ever since."
In order to navigate the pedicure woes that we normally leave to the pros, here are the best at-home pedicure products — with expert tips — to get your feet ready for open-toe season.
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
1. Deborah Lippmann Soul Survivor Foot File
"Setting yourself up with the right tools, products, and setting is the most important step," Archer notes. She recommends purchasing a high quality foot file (which can also be used in the shower as often as every other day), and lists nail clippers, a nail file, a nail buffer, and a cuticle pusher as other necessary basics.
2. ORLY GelFX Cuticle Pusher/Remover
Both Hanna and Archer agree that a set of metal tools, which can be easily sanitized using 70 percent alcohol, is worth your while. "Metal implements are definitely worth spending some money on because, if you take care of them, you'll have them for years to come," Hanna states. She particularly recommends Orly's cuticle pusher because of its unique shape, which allows for easier and gentler use.
3. Tweezerman Cuticle Nipper
"I would be lost in life without my Tweezerman Nipper [which is] the crème de la crème when it comes to doing precise and safe cuticle work," Hanna shares. Keep your nippers sterile and err on the side of caution when trimming overgrown cuticles.
4. Gilded Body Exfoliating Foot Scrub
Foot exfoliants and deep peels can be used monthly, while physical scrubs and foot files can be used as often as every other day. "The glycolic acid wash in my line [can be used up to] two-to-three times per week," Archer points out. For regular maintenance, physical scrubs can help cleanse while promoting the turnover of dry, discolored skin cells on the feet and priming your soles to receive the moisturizing balm that follows.
5. ORLY Callus Eraser
For hard, or cracked skin on the bottoms of your feet or heels, more frequent exfoliation will be necessary. "Those with excessively dry feet ... might have to use a callus remover every two weeks," Hanna says. During callus removal, a powerful acid exfoliant (like the O.G. Baby Foot Peel) helps to soften stubborn calluses so that they can be scrubbed off with a foot file, but this professional-grade option does so, minus the days-long process of unsightly peeling. Hanna also adds that you should avoid going barefoot and should always apply moisturizer to your feet before bed if you've got desert-dry feet.
6. Biopelle Exfoliating Heel Cream
Pairing chemical exfoliants, like deeply penetrating glycolic acid, along with moisturizing ingredients is a game-changer for areas that are ultra-dry, such as the heels. This glycerin-based formula sinks into hardened, callused heels while the glycolic acid helps exfoliate. It works great when applied to your heels after showering, but stick to your heels only — it's too potent to use on the entire foot.
7. ISDIN Foot Care Uradin Podos Gel Oil
Urea is another active ingredient that can be useful for treating dry, discolored, hardened skin that becomes impervious to regular moisturizers. This gel oil aids uses hyaluronic acid to improve dryness while using a combination of lactic acid and bacillus ferment to help the moisture penetrate. Results begin to show in just a few days and it can be used all over the soles.
8. Mazz Hanna Skin Salve
"The most important part of maintaining a pedicure is keeping the skin on your feet and toes hydrated," Hanna reveals. Investing in a thick, hydrating balm to apply to your feet before bed each night is an efficient way to prevent transepidermal moisture loss (TEWL), which exacerbates roughness and dry skin. "A few nights a week I slip on socks after applying [salve] to really seal in the moisture," she adds.
9. ARCH Sole Savour Nail Oil
"Nails become dry just as skin does, and need to be hydrated with nail oil," Archer explains. She suggests that you add a nail oil into your regular regimen. This one possesses anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities in addition to being hydrating, giving it an extra-functional perk. Plus, fresh cuticle oil is a great way to freshen up your polish.
10. NAILS INC. Plant Power Nail Polish
Complete your pedicure with a coat of the first 21-free, 73 percent plant-based nail polish. The vegan, cruelty-free polish is formulated without the major toxins commonly found in polish — from the "toxic trio" (DBP, toluene, and formaldehyde), to benzophenone-1 (the most recent ingredient to come under scrutiny).