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Image: dried lavender
Deborah Yao  /  AP
Relax! Soak your feet in warm water spiked with soothing essential oils like lavender or peppermint.
By
TODAY contributor
updated 5/25/2011 1:19:26 PM ET 2011-05-25T17:19:26

With open-toe shoe season in full swing, it’s time to step up your foot care regimen. Although it’s hard to fake a salon pedicure (ah, we can feel those massaging bubbles already!), you can come pretty close with the proper tools and techniques.

We recently took a load off with Caterina Marra, manager of Tribeca Beauty Spa in New York City, who revealed the art of the at-home pedicure. Now you can proudly parade around in flip-flops, even when you don’t have the time or budget for professional pampering.

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Step 1: File your nails
Whether you prefer rounded or square tips, file your nails with an emery board in one direction, not back and forth, suggests Caterina. Do the same to buff out ridges on the nail’s surface.

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Step 2: Soak your feet
Fill a basin with warm water, baking soda (to deodorize), Epsom salt (to reduce swelling) and essential oils. Caterina recommends lavender oil to relax, peppermint to refresh and tea tree to disinfect. Soak tired tootsies for 10 minutes, or longer if they’re rough or calloused.

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Step 3: Scrub your soles
Use a toenail brush to vigorously scrub away debris, then exfoliate your soles with a pumice stone, giving the balls and heels of your feet some extra TLC. Dry your feet well before moving on.

Brush-on mousse? The CEW 2011 beauty product winners
Qtica cuticle oil gel, $11 at www.qtica.com

Step 4: Tend to your cuticles
Fight the urge to nip away at the skin around your toenails. “Cuticles are there for a reason: They fight infection,” says Caterina. Instead, invest in a top-notch cuticle oil like QTica Gold. Then use an orange stick (those thin wooden sticks you see in salons; they’re available in cosmetics stores) to gently push back your cuticles, tracing around the nail bed. Caterina recommends applying organic coconut oil (get it in health food stores) to cuticles regularly so they won’t dry out. “It’s also great for elbows, hands and even lips,” she says.

Step 5: Moisturize your toes, feet and ankles
“Follow your cuticle maintenance with a good quality cream like Gehwol,” says Caterina, who advises using upward, circular motions to massage cream into your ankles, heels and soles. Don’t skimp: Massage can be one of the most refreshing parts of a pedicure!

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Step 6: Polish like a pro

Anyone who’s ever attempted a DIY pedicure knows that polishing nails with precision can be the trickiest step. For a flawless finish, start by dipping a cotton swab in nail polish remover and cleaning off any cream or oil residue. This will help your base coat adhere fully to your nail and prevent unsightly little air bubbles. Give your base coat a few minutes to dry before applying a first coat of polish, then do the same before applying the second coat. “People tend to skip steps at home,” says Caterina. Then apply a top coat to “seal in the color and help the polish to last longer.”

Nail polish pick for spring/summer 2011
Looking for a fresh new nail polish to shake things up this summer? “At Tribeca Beauty Spa, we’re currently obsessed with the quality and colors of a line called RGB,” says Caterina. Whatever polish you end up using, make sure it’s free of formaldehyde, toluene and DBP, three toxic chemicals that are now being phased out of cosmetics.

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  1. America's most wanted nail polish

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Video: Will flip-flops cause hammertoes?

  1. Closed captioning of: Will flip-flops cause hammertoes?

    >> on be well, be healthy, summer health myth busters . by now we know mom's warning to eat 30 minutes after eating before swimming or you will cramp up. well, it isn't true. and we are here to separate fact from fiction. doctor, good to have you here. first up is we are spending time outdoors in the summer. the big question is can eyes get sun burned?

    >> that's a fact. your eyes can be sun it is buburn. symptoms are red, tearing eyes and light sensitivity. if you allow your eyes to be exposed to the sun for extended periods like if you run every morning without sunglasseses you can get a number of eye conditions developing over time . they have difficult names. one is pingwekula, or yellow spots on the eyes. terigium is tissue growth between the corner of the eye and the iris and can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration. we always recommend wearing sunglasses with uva and uvb protection.

    >> all right. good point. next up, flip-flops. everybody has them and wears them in the summer. fact or fiction. are they not good for your feet?

    >> that's fact. they are not good. they don't offer arch support , cushioning or shock absorption. it can lead to heel pain, tendinitis, pinched nerves in the foot and also when you clench your toes around the thong it can create a hammer toe .

    >> not pretty.

    >> certainly not pretty.

    >> best solution is go with a shoe that offers more support.

    >> like a sandal or a wedge is a better bet. it distributes weight more easily.

    >> you need the arch support .

    >> next is a dip in the pool is like taking a shower. fact or myth?

    >> definitely not. when you think about when you go in the pool.

    >> so gross.

    >> we don't rinse off. it's sweat and sunscreen. it can make chlorine less effective. so you can get a bunch of bacteria that grow in the pool. one is common called cryptosporidium which causes diarrhea. also skin rashes . get out, wash with soap and water.

    >> and the chlorine dries your skin.

    >> it does.

    >> next is poison ivy rash is not contagious. fact or myth?

    >> they are not contagious. the oil on the plant, when it gets on your skin you can get an allergic reaction. the rash itself, no matter how much crusting and oozing you have, if i touch it, i won't get it.

    >> ew.

    >> you have to wash -- it's the oil that's contagious.

    >> so if the oil is on clothing or other items that can spread.

    >> exactly.

    >> anything that came in contact with the plant wash thoroughly with soap and water. and tonight forget your shoelaces.

    >> i didn't think of that. next is air conditioning makes you sick. fact or myth?

    >> it doesn't make you sick. that's a myth. a lot of people think i go in the cold, i got a chill. only germs cause illness. often times you're experiencing when you go outside and get the sniffles, it's allergies. stay indoors if you are prone to allergies and get a hepa filter to protect from indoor allergens.

    >> great information. thanks for separating fact from myth for us.

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