How to Give Yourself a Basic Mani-Pedi at Home

It’s hard to be stressed when your hands and feet feel amazing.


Quarantine gotcha down? Have you not showered in weeks? Do your neglected nails make you look more like a witch casting spells than a functioning member of society? Nothing a mani-pedi can’t fix! Now quit nervously chewing your fingers for a second and follow along as Meticulous Manicurist Lori Halloway runs us through the steps of a simple, at-home mani-pedi.

Gather Your Tools
If you want the full mani-pedi experience, you need more than just a rusty pair of nail clippers. Halloway recommends you pick up the following at your local drugstore (or online):

  • Liquid cuticle remover
  • A cuticle pusher
  • a stainless steel nail file
  • Nippers (yes, you read that correctly)
  • And possibly an ingrown sidewall cleaner (although, you should probably take your ingrowns to a professional). 

Apply Your Cuticle Remover
Starting with the “mani” portion of your mani-pedi — as in manicure-pedicure, in case that’s not abundantly clear — wet the skin around your fingernails with cuticle remover, a magical liquid that works by essentially dissolving away any dead skin. Note: You may have had a manicurist soak your fingernails in warm water, which can be fine in some cases, but Halloway finds that soaking can cause the nails to swell, which makes them harder to cut.

Clip Your Nails
While the cuticle remover does its job, use nippers (yes, you read that correctly) to cut your nails. Halloway prefers nippers to clippers, because she says they put less pressure on the nails, which means less breakage. For the best results, use the milky tips of your nails as guides, leaving just slivers of white and shaping them like crescent moons. 

File Until Smooth
Once your fingernails are clipped, use a stainless steel nail file to smooth and shape the edges, always filing in the same direction. Halloway says stainless steel is ideal, since cheap emery board nail files can induce that uncomfortable, heebie-jeebies feeling. Eek.

Remove Those Cuticles
Now that the cuticle remover has had some time to do its job, apply another layer for extra moistness, then use the cuticle pusher to gently push back the cuticle area. The dead skin should easily push back from your nails. Then, you can use nippers to trim it away. Again, be extra careful not to trim away any living tissue, which could result in a cuticle infection — and major regrets.

Finally, give your hands a good wash, moisturize them well and enjoy your freshly manicured fingernails. Hey, you might even paint them if you want to look extra fashionable in quarantine.

Move to Your Toenails
Generally speaking, the “pedi” portion of your mani-pedi should look exactly the same as everything we just discussed. However, as a big fan of pedicures myself — and because our feet tend to take more of a beating than our hands — for extra relaxation I recommend beginning the whole process by soaking your dogs in warm water with epsom salt. After about 10 minutes, rub them with an exfoliating scrub, or use a pumice stone to get rid of any pesky calluses. Then, start by applying callus remover, and proceed through the process outlined above.

The world may still be stressful, but at least your hands and feet look nice, right?