Around five years ago, I had my first medical pedicure at Margaret Dabbs. It was game-changing: that toenail that always dug in slightly was tamed; the dryness on the undersides of my feet that no amount of foot filing could shift was gone; my crazy cuticle was finally vanquished.
There’s a flip side to having a brilliant pedicure though: a standard file and paint just doesn’t do it for me now - I want my natural nails to be buffed to perfection before any polish hits them. And that thing when they soak my feet and then whip out the file = big fat no - thanks to the teachings of Dabbs’s team, I know that filing a damp foot can lead to a host of problems as a result of overfilling or introducing bacteria to the delicate damp skin.
Rather than squander money on salons that don’t cut the mustard, I have a new ploy. Between medi pedis, I’ll be caring for my feet at home. And before you think it - no, I won’t be undoing the good work of the pediatrists, because I’ve had a word with Margaret Dabbs herself and gathered her top pedicure rules. Follow them religiously, and then snap up our top products if you’d like to have the happiest of feet.
The Ultimate Pedicure Rules:
1. Always, ALWAYS file feet when dry.
Why? ‘Water masks the area to be treated, so you won’t be able to see the dry portions. Also, if the skin is spongey your foot file won’t gain purchase properly. Finally, if you’re prone to cracks within calluses, dampening the skin will weaken the tissues and, through filing, you may open the cracks up.’
2. File a toenail straight across; don’t round off the edges.
Why? ‘The toenail is different to the fingernail and needs to be filed straight across. They shouldn’t be too short, either - there is a natural line where the nail grows and you shouldn’t file lower than that.’
3. Invest in a good quality crystal nail file.
Why? ‘If you use a good crystal file, you can file back and forth easily without damaging the nail or splitting it. Also, if you have a thickened toenail, you can run it across the top to reduce the thickness.’
4. Use a pumice-based foot scrub to exfoliate the soft portions of skin.
Why? ‘Doing so will illuminate the skin by getting rid of the grey skin cells in areas that you simply can’t address with a foot file. Try an exfoliating foot mousse, massage it in all over the foot and between the toes, and rinse with plenty of water.’
5. Push cuticles back - never cut them.
Why? ‘We never take away fresh tissue; we only push it back. Never, ever cut fresh tissue. If your are frayed or unmanageable, apple some cuticle serum daily and push them back slightly with an orange stick.’
Our Top Foot Picks:
The perfect file, this crystal number glides easily across the nail, leaving edges smooth - not ragged.
Magnesium is transdermal - meaning it can be absorbed through your skin. As it’s a crucial nutrient for muscle function, get some of these flakes into a foot bath whenever you feet feel tuckered out and in need of a bit of love.
You’ll find Kneipp salts on the shelves of every beauty editor going because they’re really effective - and affordable. These salts provide a cooling kick and are great on warmer days.
Foot filing ain’t gonna cut it? Get your hands on these - and be prepared to be slightly repulsed when the dead skin on your feet starts to peel off on day three. You’ve been warned…
If you need a serious moisturise injection, get your hands on this emu oil-rich product. If you have time, massage it into your cuticles too for a sneaky shot of moisture that’ll soften them, too.
… But if a cream is more your bag, get this one: it smells hugely uplifting thanks to the oud, and is infused with skincare ingredients like violet rice and black current seed oil to keep your tootsies soft.
This clever file lasts a lifetime thanks to the replaceable file pads. Our top tip: file over the bath - you’ll be amazed at how much skin your feet shed when filed with one of these!
This scrubbiest of scrubby foot scrubs will take care of whatever the foot file can’t get to. Ideally, apply to dry feet post-filing and then rinse the scrub off in the shower.
Just as you’d apply a serum under a face oil or cream, if you really want to pack a punch on the moisture front on your nails, you need to massage in a serum first. Also great if you can’t stand any greasiness.
The mother of cuticle oils, this instantly softens cuticles, nourishes nails an - bonus - smells like summer.