- Get a friend to help if you can
- Assemble everything you need before you begin
- Place everything safely within easy reach
- Wear your glasses
- Take your time
- Make it a regular routine
- Use it as a time to de-stress and check your foot health
The best and safest way to have a pedicure is to book yourself into a spa or nail salon. But if that’s not possible due to Covid or if you’re being careful with your money then this is something you can do yourself.
When you were younger this would have been easy. Today when your body has got less supple, your knees are giving you pain and your waist finds it difficult to bend, the DIY pedicure is no simple task.
But it is a vital self-care routine. Not only will you like the way your feet look but you will avoid foot problems and get early warning of any health troubles that may be affecting circulation.
Step 1 Who will help?
The perfect pedicure over 60 is done together with a friend. Women of a similar age all suffer the same hassles when caring for their feet. So why not get together once every 14 days to help each other. Yes, you’ll want to be wearing masks for this close-up task whilst the pandemic is with us but you can still have fun.
If a friend is not available you’ll have to turn to family. A partner can return a favour. He may not think he needs a pedicure but once he gets into the routine he’ll love them.
If no-one is around then prepare to do it yourself.
Step 2 Assemble the area, tools and products
Whether you are doing your own pedicure or swapping care with a friend, you will need a small table, footstool or solid pile of books covered with a cloth. This is to raise your foot so it is easier for you or your friend to work on (and see.)
Next you’ll need your glasses so you can be precise in your work.
You’ll need a large steady bowl or footspa with warm water. Put it on the floor under or near the table – anywhere you will not fall over it. You can also sit on the side of the bathtub to soak your feet . I only have a shower these days and since down-sizing my storage does not allow for keeping things like footspas available. But I have a large plastic bowl that is not too heavy to carry half-full of water and easy to wash out afterwards. It means I can only soak one foot at a time.
Next set out all these:
- Nail clippers or nail scissors
- Liquid soap or scented shower gel
- Soft bristle nail brush
- Foot scrubber or pumice stone
- Small towel
- Towel or bathmat for the floor to rest your damp feet.
- Foot or hand moisturizing lotion
- Emery boards – don’t use a metal file.
- Cuticle oil
- Cuticle pusher (I use a cotton Q-tip but it depends how soft your cuticles are)
- Nail buffer block (to reduce ridges)
- Main nail polish color
- Top coat
- Toe dividers (I use twisted kitchen paper)
- Cotton socks
- Foot scrub paste or cream (helps remove dry skin if you only have a little)
- Eau de Cologne or refreshing eau de toilette as a finishing flourish
- Relaxing music
Step 3 Cleansing and softening nails, cuticles and feet.
Swish a little of the liquid soap into the bowl of warm water. Soak your feet – or one foot at a time. Use the soft nail brush to scrub all around your nails and across any patches of lined or dry skin on your feet and ankles. This is easier to do once they’ve soaked for a while.
You may wash your feet daily but a shower or bath sometimes fails to get right into the edges of the nail. As you age your nails thicken and your toes sometimes change shape so a specific thorough foot cleanse is essential every week or so.
It’s much easier to remove rough or hard skin on your heels and the balls of your feet, even on the sides of your big toe once you’ve soaked your feet. But take care not to go too hard on your skin while it is damp. You could take off more skin than you intend. That said, once you’ve patted your feet dry you should work steadily across all areas of dead skin. I use a pumice stone and alternate it with a foot rasp.
You’ll find hard skin builds up differently depending on what footwear you’ve been using. I get very little hard skin in the winter when my feet usually have a sock or thick tights over them and then a casual sporty shoe such as a sneaker with padding.
In the summer I walk barefoot indoors (I have stone floors not soft carpet) and wear sandals usually outside. I wear socks inside sneakers less often. So this means I have a bit more to do when I give my hard skin a going-over in summer.
Paint each nail with a little cuticle oil and massage in to the nail and the top of the toe. Then use a cuticle pusher to work your cuticles back to form a smart even line around the nail. The cuticles will be easy to push back gently because they have been softened with the soapy water and moisturized with the oil. This is important so they do not tear.
Don’t snip your cuticles. They’re there to help your nail stay in your toe so treat them gently.
Step 4 Cut your nails.
Now your feet are nice and clean it’s time to clip each nail straight across. I use nail scissors that have a very shallow curve on them but salons tend to use clippers these days.
The most important thing is to clip your nail to the length you want it without worrying about trying to shape it. Many of us have tough or damaged big toe nails through years of wear and tear. So make sure your clippers or scissors are sharp and if necessary reduce the length of difficult nails with two or three fine cuts. Never cut too low.
Cutting your nails regularly is vital to foot health. Not only do you keep them cleaner but your shoes fit better. If you wear shoes with long toenails your toes will butt up against the front of the shoe and make it difficult to walk without pain. You can also end up by bruising your toes and even losing a toenail.
I foolishly accepted the loan of some hiking boots when I was visiting friends in the Italian hills. They were one size smaller than my normal shoes but I thought it wouldn’t matter just for a day. I was in pain for a week, I badly bruised my big toe nails, I lost one of them completely as it turned black and blue. My pretty nails have never looked so pretty ever again. That was 40 years ago!
I’m scrupulous about keeping my toenails clipped and wearing the right sized shoes nowadays as you can imagine.
Step 5 Shape your nails
Using an emery board work across the nail to slightly round it so sharp clipped corners do not snag tights. You are not trying to give your nails more than a very shallow curve. If your nails are thick this may take some time.
I find it best to file my nails, scrub them in the water with the brush, pat them dry then look to see if there’s any roughness. This sometimes comes from not having filed the inside edge of the nail smoothly. My big toe nails are much thicker than when I was young so this process takes me several minutes. The nail brush is very useful for this step. It makes you certain your nails are perfectly smooth and clean and just under your nails too.
If you have very obvious ridges on your toenails use a small buffer across them (or a very fine emory board) to reduce their appearance. It will take a few pedicures to improve their appearance.
If you’ve never really had ridges and one day find they have appeared it’s worth talking to your health professional just in case it indicates a downturn in your general health.
Step 6 Moisturize your feet and nails
This is frankly the best bit of the pedicure. Your feet are fresh and clean and you are massaging hand, foot or body lotion into them. Work carefully around every toe. Pay attention to the backs of ankles which can be dry.
If you want to make the most of this moisturizing process you can put on a pair of cotton socks , put your feet up on the sofa and close your eyes, listening to your music for thirty minutes.
This works well overnight too. So why not complete the manicure then re-moisturize and pop on the socks several hours later before getting into bed, when the polish is hardened.
Step 7 Paint your nails
Spread your toes apart using those funny-looking toe spreaders or just make thickish twists of kitchen towel or tissues and thread them between your toes.
Wipe away any lingering traces of lotion or oil on your nails.
The first coat is the base coat. This stops the color of the varnish seeping into your nails and slowly staining them. If your nails ever look slightly yellow this is probably why.
Once the base coat is touch dry apply up to three coats of color. The paler the color the more coats you need to get the effect you want.
Between each coat you will need a friend to chat to or a good book and that music. Don’t hurry this. It’s so easy to mess the sheen up by repainting too soon.
Finally apply a colorless top coat which helps the varnish dry and keeps your nails looking good for longer.
I like to finish with a splash of eau de cologne.
Do’s and don’ts of footcare and pedicures when you’re over 60
- Do keep the whole work area safe by putting your tools and products away as you use them. None of us over 60 has perfect balance. It’s so easy to slip or to knock the polish over then fall when you try to grab it. Let’s be honest, most of will even forget where we put that bowl of water by the end of the pedicure unless we are careful to place it somewhere very obvious out of the way.
- Do take your time. Stretching to your feet then doing the careful work on them that is required is uncomfortable for many of us. We can feel dizzy straightening up. But if you work slowly and take breaks you will be fine.
- Do make a pedicure a weekly or bi-weekly routine. Just like the housework, the more often you do it the easier it gets. Don’t allow hard skin to build up or nails to get long or cracked. Keep them looking good and feel the benefits.
- Do put your foot up so it’s easier to work on. Bending to the floor can make you very dizzy or even strain your back.
- Do give your nails a ‘no polish’ week every three or four weeks especially in summer. Bare nails will feel the benefits of their natural state – open to the air and water. It will help keep them healthy and avoid them drying out too much.
- Don’t soak your feet in very hot water – it will make your feet swell and you want to maintain a cool relaxed state! Warm slightly soapy water is ideal.
- Don’t be tempted to touch your polish to see if it’s dry in less than 5 minutes.
- Don’t paint over old polish – remove all polish and thoroughly cleanse your feet and nails. Old polish will stain your nails.
- Do experiment with colors. Try a very pale natural look or a modern color that looks good in open-toed shoes with a favorite outfit.
- Do throw away old polish. Trying to varnish nails with sticky off-peak color just makes the job all the harder. New polish will flow better making ridges less obvious.
- Do note where hard skin accumulates. You would expect it to form on the sole of your foot and heel. If it starts building more on one side then you may be standing or walking unevenly. If it builds on the edge of your foot or toes you may be wearing shoes that rub.
- Do note any changes you see in your feet or nails, especially any areas that feel tingly or numb. If your toes change their alignment or nails start to look very ridged then make an appointment to see a health specialist. Regularly treating your feet well via a pedicure is a good way to get advance warning of possible health problems.
- Do walk barefoot on grass or indoors sometimes. It aids your balance. Just make sure the surface is even and not slippery or too rough.
- Do love your feet and show them you do! They work so hard for you!
Here are products I think you will love that can be bought easily online. All are free from chemicals that can harm your health.
Johnlewis.com have a good selection of tools and products for pedicures. They are based in the UK and ship internationally at very reasonable rates. They are Britain’s most trusted store with good reason. Here are just a few ideas to get you started but scroll through all the products till you find just the ones you love.
Jessica nail products are an excellent range – for example this base coat
Cowshed is a healthy brand I love with its funny names for products such as this seriously scrubby foot exfoliating paste
For a good range of contemporary colors take a look at the hues at Nailberry
If you like to shop in the US then everyone knows Sephora stocks a vast selection of quality beauty and grooming products. They ship worldwide.
Try this sensual foot conditioning duo for a pampering experience
Here’s a really useful little set of tools and products for treating your cuticles properly. It’s by the very respected Deborah Lippman brand.
Last of all, please, please do not use your phone during your pedicure. Concentrate on each step and leave your phone in another room until you are completely finished.
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