1 CLEAN UP A LITTLE

Have you checked the toolbox (below) to see what you need? Great. Now use a cotton ball soaked in polish remover to swipe away any old polish (do this even if you’re not wearing color – it gets rid of grime). Then fill a basin with warm tap water, add a scoop of your favorite bath salts, and slide your feet in. Soak for 10 minutes, and pat dry with a towel.

2 TRIM YOUR TRIPS

Once your feet are dry, use a pair of toenail clippers to trim your tips (fingernail clippers tend to be too dull, gnawing at your toenails instead of neatly slicing them – and leaving you with sharp, jagged edges). As you cut, move the clippers straight across, creating a squarish shape. Don’t cut diagonally along the sides or you’ll get ingrown toenails.

3 FILE YOUR EDGES

Use the rougher side of the emery board (the one that looks more grainy) to swipe the file in one direction, from each corner of your toenail to the center to create a square shape (do it several times on each side – just don’t saw back and forth or your nails may splinter). Repeat with the board’s finer side to smooth the edges.

4 SMOOTH YOUR GUTICLES

Dab a drop of cuticle remove (or plain hand lotion) on each cuticle (that’s the skin at the base of your toenails). Now let it sit for two minutes (there’s no need to massage it in). Then use an orange stick with a piece of cotton wrapped around its tip to gently push back the cuticles. (Warning: Don’t cut your cuticles. You risk infection.)

5 RUFF YOUR NAILS

If your toenails (especially those on your big toes) have ridges (most do), use a buffing block to sand them down, Just swipe the block in one direction (five or six times), from just above your cuticle to the tip of your toenail (no up-and-down, side-to-side). Now slide your feet in that tub for a sec to get rid of file dust and cuticle remover.

6 REMOVE DEAD SKIN

Lift your feet out of the basin, rest them on the towel, then massage each of them for a minute with this DIY exfoliating scrub (make it ahead of time): Combine 4 tablespoons of Vaseline, 4 teaspoons of sea salt, and 8 drops of peppermint oil in a bowl. Mix together – done. After the massage, dip your feet into the tub again to rinse away the salt granules.

7 SMOOTH IT OUT

Pat your feet dry, wet a foot file, and use the rough side to scrub at your heel, the ball of your foot, the outside of your big and pinky toes (basically anywhere you have rough, scaly skin) for about 15-20 seconds per area. Now flip the file over and use the smooth side to re-scrub the same areas (it’ll make them feel soft to the touch).

8 GET ALL GREASED UP

Dip your feet into the tub one more time (for 10 seconds – just to get rid of dead skin on the bottom of your feet), and pat them dry. Now rub massage oil from your knee to your heel (the oil absorbs better than lotion), let it sit for a minute, and swipe your nails again with remover (this removes any oil from the surface so polish wont bubble).

9 PAINT EACH TOE

Slip on toe separators (a long strip of toilet paper wound between your toes works too) and apply a thin layer of base coat. Now paint on a thin layer of polish, moving from your pinky toe to your big one. Start in the center of each nail (just above your cuticle) and then fill in the right and left sides. Paint on a second coat in the same way.

10 ERASE MISTAKES

Apply top coat, and let your nails dry for 10 minutes. Now dip an orange stick in remover and trace around the edges of your toenails – it’ll erase any polish that got on your skin. (If you accidentally smudge your polish, dab a finger in remover, gently tap the smudge, and apply top coat just to that spot.) Perfect!

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