Whenever I'm looking to save money (so, like, all the time), my monthly-ish trip to the nail salon is the first thing to get cut. It's not that I don't like pedicures—believe me, I do—but I've officially decided there's no harm in being my own nail technician. Sure, the ~luxuries~ of a nail salon (read: a three-minute foot rub and a broken massage chair) are nice, but what I'm really after is a little me-time and a decent paint job—and I, my friends, am more than capable of executing that myself.
Becoming an at-home pedicure aficionado sounds way harder than it actually is, which is why I went to Mary Lennon, president and cofounder of Côte, for a few expert-approved tips. Trust me: You're about to become a full-blown DIY convert.
Prep your nails for your at-home pedicure.
Time to *finally* get rid of the remnants from your last pedi (seriously, how long have you had that chipped-as-hell red?) and do a proper polish removal. To remove every last bit of color, soak a cotton pad in nail polish remover (I’m a fan of gentle, acetone-free formulas) and hold it on each nail for a few seconds to allow the paint to break down before you start swiping. If you want that perfectly smooth, lacquered finish at the end, don't half-ass this step.
Pro tip: If you're left with any weird stains or a yellow tinge (you'll usually see this after removing darker colors, like red or black), rub cuticle oil over the surface of your nails to lighten any residue.
Soak your toes and feet.
Okay, before you start soaking, your first job—and this is important—is to go around your house and gather every candle you can find. Oh, and get yourself a glass of wine while you're at it. The trick to making an at-home pedicure feel like a spa experience instead of, you know, rubbing your own feet in your too-small-for-comfort apartment is setting the ~mood~ at your makeshift pedicure station.
Once the ambiance is right, you're ready to soak your feet—which softens tough skin and cuticles (and is downright relaxing). Lennon suggests using a basin (aka a really big bowl) if you have one, but a bathtub is also a sound option. Fill 'er up with warm water and add a liberal scoop of skin-soothing bath salts. Let your feet soak for a few minutes before moving to the next step.
Trim and shape your toenails.
Here's where a little multitasking comes into play. You'll want to reach for classic nail clippers to trim and cut your nails, followed by a file for shaping and smoothing. If your setup allows, leave one foot soaking while you start cleaning up the other. If your heels or the sides of your toes feel like they could use a good scrub, use a pumice stone or foot file to gently smooth the skin. Then, switch your feet and repeat.
Massage your feet with lotion.
Take both feet out of the tub and dry them off with a towel. With a foot cream or body lotion, begin massaging your toes, feet, and calves until, well, you wanna stop. Lennon says to pay special attention to your cuticles on each toe. While you can use an orange stick to push back your cuticles, Lennon highly advises that you save any trimming or cutting for the pros. Cuticles protect your nails from bacteria, and you shouldn't trust yourself (or anyone, really) to mess with them—especially with that glass of wine in hand. Finish off by grabbing a cotton pad soaked with rubbing alcohol to clean the surface of each nail, removing any oily residue that could prevent your polish from sticking.
Paint your toenails.
If you have toe separators, grab 'em. Otherwise, Lennon suggests tearing off a piece of paper towel, rolling or twisting it into a rope, and weaving it through your toes to prevent the polish from smudging. Then, apply a thin layer of base coat on each nail. Follow with two thin coats of your color of choice, letting the paint dry for a few minutes between each coat. If you kinda suck at painting inside the lines, use a cotton bud to clean any mess-ups.
And there you have it: a salon-quality pedicure in the comfort of your own damn home. What are we spending our extra money on?!
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.