DIY Pedicure Dos and Don’ts With Margaret Dabbs

BATD ON May 08, 2013 AT 9:05 am

If the rise in temperature has caught you unaware (and considering the tumultuous weather over the past 6 months it’s completely understandable) a surefire way to get into the summer spirit, without having to bare too much flesh, is by flashing a bit of foot instead.

And that means, either you tootle on down to your local nail salon (keep an eye out for our pick of the best in London), or undertake something of a DIY job.

Not adverse to an at-home pedicure, we thought we’d offer up the ultimate do-it-yourself do’s and don’ts courtesy of medi-pedi pro Margaret Dabbs.


First up, it’s time to get rid of all of that hard, rough dead skin . . .

Soaking before buffing – right or wrong? 
Very wrong. For the perfect pedicure avoid soaking your feet beforehand. I’d always recommend dry skin to do any form of manicure or pedicure as when the feet are wet problem areas tend to be disguised.


When and how should we be foot-buffing?
A foot file should be used once a week on dry skin, concentrating on areas of callus build up, and filed towards the mid line of the foot. The use of pumice should be avoided as it is done on wet skin and repeated use of this will actually encourage hard skin to develop.


And those pesky overgrown cuticles, to snip or not to snip?
Cuticles should never be ignored when looking after your nails. Push them back (to allow the nail to grow freely) rather than cutting them as the cuticle is important – it protects the matrix of the nail from invading bacteria and physical damage whilst also providing a waterproof barrier. Cuticles tend to get dry and tatty with use and the environment, especially in winter. Healthy looking cuticles will work effectively as a barrier to bacteria entering the body system and improve the appearance of our hands and nails.

*We suggest massaging Margaret Dabbs Nourishing Nail & Cuticle Serum £10 which is packed with emu oil over nails and cuticles to improve appearance and promote nail growth.

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What’s the best toenail shape and should we be cutting, trimming or filing them? 
Always make sure you cut (if they’re long) or file (if they just need a tidy) your nails straight across. On your toes, you need to be especially careful not to cut your nails too short, otherwise you can cause infection or cause yourself excess pain. Once you have cut them, file any uneven edges straight.

*We love a glass file. Try Margaret Dabbs Crystal Nail File £12 or Leighton Denny Crystal Nail File £12.50

How often should we be wearing  polish on our toenails?
Nail varnish can be very toxic and because of the intensity of the colour and the chemicals this can be massively dehydrating on the nails. Dehydration can affect the nails in various ways, including ridging, scaling, brittleness, discolouration, and it can also cause white flecks to appear on the nail. Whilst the nails are covered not only will the damage continue, but it will also go undetected until the damage is at its worst.

Polish-free days are essential as it allows them time to breathe and recover, rehydrating naturally. Your nails will be in much better condition if you take a week between each polish giving them enough time to revitalise and strengthen.

In between polishes I’d suggest gently buffing the nail as it will instantly shine and illuminate your nails, leaving a long lasting healthy and shiny sheen whilst giving a beautiful groomed look – it really is the perfect compromise.

*Brilliant buffers include Margaret Dabbs Super Shiner Buffer £7, OPI Brilliance Block £2, Leighton Denny Quatro 4 in 1 £5 and Marks & Spencer Miracle Buffer £3

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Which foot-problems requite a visit to a foot specialist? And which can be safely treated at home?

It seems really strange to me that people will attempt to treat a painful foot condition themselves – but would never consider it with other parts of the body such as the teeth!  The rule should always be if it hurts, see a qualified foot specialist or chiropodist.

Foot problems have a funny way of transferring the pain to other parts of the foot and so often home treatment can make matters much worse.  Many home remedies contain salicylic acid and this can have an adverse reaction for many people, especially anyone who has an allergy to aspirin for example or anyone who can react badly to acid on the skin, which can – in severe cases lead to ulceration of the skin.  This is worse for thin or fine skinned people, in people who have circulatory problems or people who have an underlying medical condition.  Plasters which contain salicylic can move and macerate healthy skin which can also be an issue.

The same applies to niggling nails – so many ingrown toe nails arise because of home treatment – when a specialist can treat the symptom before it becomes a full blown in-grown toe nail.

Keep your feet healthy by using a good daily foot lotion – treat the feat as you would your hands or face!

*We’ll be slathering Margaret Dabbs Intensive Hydrating Foot Lotion £25 and Liz Earle Foot Repair Moisturiser £13.50




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