Women ballroom dancers often wear open-toed dance shoes, which means that our TOENAILS will be on display! And if you’re trying to dance but you’re conscious about scraggly looking toenails, you won’t feel (and therefore won’t LOOK) confident.
So even though this doesn’t directly relate to dancing … I wanted to give you pedicure tips! (Don’t forget, men can have a pedicure too.)
First, gather all of your supplies and treat this like a mini spa treatment at home.
1. Remove old toenail polish
If you have any leftover polish on your toenails, use mild acetone polish remover and a cotton pad to remove it. Acetone remover isn’t damaging to real nails and cuts through pigment faster than non-acetone remover. Non-acetone (while necessary for fake nails) can leave traces of pigment that can lead to discoloration over time.
Already have discoloration? Try one of these remedies:
- Use an old toothbrush to clean your nails with some whitening toothpaste. Rinse and repeat.
- Soak a cotton ball with 3% hydrogen peroxide. Rub it onto your nails, then let dry.
- Dissolve a tablet or two of denture cleaner into a small bowl of water. Then, soak your nails for about five minutes.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide and 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a small bowl to make a paste. Then use a cotton swab to press some of the mixture firmly across the tops of each nail. Keep this mixture on your nails for 3 minutes, then rinse.
- Lemon acts as an astringent and will strip away stains from your nails. Simply rub a slice of lemon directly on top of your nails. Or, soak your nails in water combined with lemon juice or lemon slices.
Make an at-home pedicure more relaxing by soaking your feet in a large bowl of warm water with bubble bath for 10 or so minutes before you get working. Read a magazine, listen to music or just relax while you soak. Before you fill your foot bath or large bowl with water, make sure to put a bath towel underneath it to catch any spills or “debris” from your pedicure.
Other things you might want to add to your foot bath:
- Add epsom salt to your foot bath to soothe tired feet and help reduce any swelling at the end of a long day.
- Soak in a blend of warm water and milk for 10 minutes since the lactic acid in dairy helps soften rough skin.
- When soaking your feet, add a few drops of tea tree oil to the water to fight athlete’s foot and reduce itchiness.
3. Work on cuticles
Pull one foot from the foot bath and put drop cuticle oil on each nail. Massage it in and glide a wooden cuticle stick around the nail to push back any dead skin that might be clinging to the nail plate. Put your foot back in the water while you work on the other foot.
If you don’t have cuticle oil, olive oil works just as well.
Pull your first foot out of the foot bath and wet your leg up to your knee. Using a granular foot scrub – or even sugar scrub – gently massage along the bottoms of your feet up to the knee. Concentrate pressure where there is a callus or dry skin build-up. Rinse thoroughly and do the same with your other leg.
5. Moisturize and massage
Remove one foot from foot bath and pat dry with a hand towel. For a relaxing, cooling sensation that will soothe feet and make them tingle for at least an hour, combine a few drops of peppermint oil with a foot lotion or rich cream and massage into legs and feet.
For more intense moisturization, use a clay mask first. Spread an even coat over your foot and ankle. Wrap with plastic wrap and then a towel. Repeat on the other foot. Wait three to five minutes then rinse thoroughly. Then use the moisturizer as above.
As you massage the moisturizer into your skin, also take each toe individually and wiggle it gently in a circle. This one little step is a quick tip I learned from my dance coach to help relax the muscles (and end aching muscles caused by hours and hours of dance training).
Ask your partner to do the massaging for total relaxation!
6. Trim nails
Use a disinfected, curved toenail trimmer to cut the corner of each nail at a 45-degree angle to help prevent ingrown nails. Next cut any nails that are too long straight across. Finish by shaping nails with a fine flat file or glass file to smooth uneven edges and corners. Double-check for any remaining cuticle that might be stuck to the nail and file it smooth. Swipe all nails with polish remover to get rid of residual oils and extend the life of your polish. Weave toe separators between toes.
Apply one thin layer coat of base polish, which will help your pedicure last longer and help prevent nail discoloration described in step 1. Let dry for about two minutes. Follow by two thin coats of nail enamel and one final thin layer of shiny top coat. Let each coat dry for about two minutes between applications. Fix polish mistakes by dipping a short, stiff paint brush in nail polish remover. Just glide it along the edges of your nails to clean up the paint.
Avoid air bubbles in your painted nails by storing polish in a cool, dry place and rolling bottles between palms, not shaking them, before applying.
Wait until nails are fully dry before you clean up your workspace, and wait at least two hours before putting on close-toed shoes.
The next time you’re in the market for a new polish, be sure it’s “three-free,” meaning it isn’t prepared with formaldehyde, toluene, or dibutyl phthalate (DBP). Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, while DBP and toluene are potential reproductive toxins.
Finger and toe nail polish don’t have to match. If you’re opting for varying shades of the same color family, go lighter on your hands and darker on feet.
8. Make it last
To make your pedicure last longer, always use a base coat and top coat, and apply a fresh coat of clear polish every three days.
Keep polish and cuticles well oiled with a purse-sized cuticle oil.