I love a little pedicure pampering as much as the next girl, and as a yoga teacher, my bare feet need to be presentable. The harsh chemicals used in most nail salons have always been a turn-off, and indeed, a growing body of medical research links them to serious health issues.
The salon workers are most at risk for the associated miscarriages, abnormal fetal development, other reproductive problems, cancer and serious skin and respiratory issues that are linked to proven dangerous ingredients such as formaldehyde, DBP and toulene. I don’t like the thought of the nail technician or myself being exposed to all that nasty.
Further, the recent Times article, “The Price of Nice Nails,” went viral and made many of us extremely uncomfortable with paying into a system that is known for egregious exploitation of workers who are vulnerable because of their limited English and often illegal status.
Also, I’m a germaphobe, so I’m always a little leery of being jabbed at by supposedly sterilized sharp objects that were previously jabbing other people
So, I created my own 5 Step Concious and Non-Toxic Pedicure using essential oils and other natural and still totally effective products.
1) Lay the Groundwork. Soak and wash feet. Find a seat near a sink and place a large towel under the feet. Trim toenails straight across to prevent ingrown nails.
2) Exfoliate With Foot File and Natural Enzymatic Scrub. I see a lot of bare feet in my line of work, so I know even the most avid pedicurees get a layer of filmy or frosty looking white skin on callous-prone areas. I only mention a particular product, Vasanti Brighten Up, because I happily discovered it’s astonishing efficacy in restoring those ashy patches to soft, glowing and smooth skin. Also, it is 99% natural, 100% paraben free, 100% vegan and used no animal testing. But I’m sure other enzymatic face scrubs work just as well.
Apply the scrub on shower damp feet and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then wet the foot file and scrub off any callouses or ashiness. I sit near the sink, so I can rinse the file often as I go. Don’t forget to carefully buff the tops of the toes, rubbing off any hard spots that were around the nails before you cut them off. Rinse off the feet and dry.
3) Detail the Nails. I use one simple metal nail file to do it all. Use the curved edge to gently push back the cuticles and lift off the dead skin that’s coming off like a charm from the enzyme scrub. File, shape and clean under the nails as needed.
4) Massage With Coconut Oil and Essential Oils. Above and beyond being non-toxic, you can customize the oils you use for particular health benefits. I put some tea tree oil directly on my nails because it’s a natural fungicide and aniseptic. It’s even better to do this to bare nails the night before to really give it time to work. Then I mix my favorites, ylang ylang and lavender, with some coconut oil for a little floral pampering and massage it to my feet . You might need to rinse or towel off any excess oil.
5) Paint With Non-Toxic Polish. First remove any residual oil on the nail using nail polish remover. Then paint a couple of sheer coats to build the polish into a professional finish. There are a plethora of safe nail polishes on the market now. Companies like Butter and Zoya offer just about any color you’d ever wish to wear.
This self pampering and foot annointing has become a special ritual for me. It’s a sweet gesture of self love that I can do in less the amount of time it would take to go get a pedicure. I don’t mind saving a bunch of money, either. It feels great knowing I have done myself, the environment and other people no harm. Enjoy!