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Step 1: Clean
First things first we need to start with a clean slate. So, begin by removing any polish from your toes with nail polish remover and cotton balls.
Step 2: File
Use a nail file to shorten and shape your toenails. Follow the natural shape of your nail bed to help prevent ingrown toenails (ouch!). Once you have achieved your desired shape, smooth the edges with a nail buffer to prevent rough edges from getting caught on tights or socks.
Step 3: Soften
Apply nail oil to your cuticles (any kitchen oil will do the trick if you dont have nail oil at home) to help soften the skin around your toenails.
Step 4: Soak
In a basin, bathtub or sink (sitting on the kitchen counter with my feet in the sink is my go-to dont judge!), dissolve Epsom salt in warm to hot water and add a cup of whole milk. The Epsom salt will help you relax while the lactic acid in the whole milk will help to dissolve dead skin cells and moisturize. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 5: Exfoliate
Gently scrub your feet, heels, balls of the feet and the sides of the big toes with a foot file for 2 to 4 minutes on each foot. If you have very deep heel cracks, use Salicylic Acid based acne pads, like Neutrogena Rapid Clear Treatment Pads ($8.49 at http://Walgreens.com) to help dissolve the dead skin cells, or talk with a podiatrist or dermatologist about a prescription cream with glycolic acid or lactic acid, which will help your heels heal faster.
Step 6: Hydrate
Apply moisturizer immediately after exfoliating, while feet are still a bit damp, to help seal in the moisture. Look for products containing vitamin E, shea butter or jojoba oil (for naturalists), or petrolatum and glycerin (for conventionalists). Be uber-generous with the moisturizer before covering your feet with plastic wrap and socks for 10 minutes to let the hydration penetrate deeply. (Feel free to repeat this step regularly and even overnight when your feet need some extra TLC.)
Step 7: Prep & Polish
Use nail polish remover to clean the nail surface again before applying base coat, two coats of nail polish, and top coat in thin, even strokes.
Step 8: Moisturize (Again)
Add extra moisturizer or nail oil to especially dry spots and on your cuticles.
Step 9: Maintain
In between DIY pedicures, apply another coat of topcoat to help extend the life of the polish.