6 ways to DIY your pedicure

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 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.

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.

Step 2: Soak your feetFill 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.

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.

Step 4: Tend to your cuticlesFight 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 . Then use an (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 (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 ,” 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!

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 ,” 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.