I have the perfect gift for the girly-girl in your life: The Perfect Pedicure. This idea is a two-for, as in you can use it as a gift giving guide AND you can use it for yourself. I've been doing my own nails/pedicures at home for years and years. It started off because I was in college and wanted to have cute nails, but couldn't afford the trips to the manicurist. But as I've grown older, I've come to make this a ritual that I enjoy more than getting my nails done professionally. And, it is a heck of a lot cheaper.
I'm going to go through and number the items to go into the kit and then explain how to use each one of them. Just an idea, but you may want to do the same (add a cute instruction card with the gift) to really show how to use these:
The Perfect Pedicure Ingredients and Instructions:
1. 1 Box Herbal Tea: Let me suggest Yogi Tea Meditative tea (http://yogitea.elsstore.com/view/category/559-mind-tea/?items_page=9&page=2=2). This is a delicious tea that helps you relax. On the site it is $4.39 per box, but I've actually seen it cheaper in health food stores and even recently in the tea aisle/section at Walmart! How to use it: I suggest brewing a small pot of tea before you begin your pedicure. Place the tea pot and mug somewhere close to you so that as you relax, the tea is by your side for enjoyment. Do not toss the tea bag...I'll explain in a moment.
2. Wide, Shallow Plastic Container: First of all, this will be the perfect container to put all of the goodies in. Secondly, it will be used for the soak. The container that I use I actually got at the dollar tree. It looks similar to the item at the right, but is wider and a tad bit more shallow. It is the perfect size and cost $1. They also have just basic clear plastic containers that work well too. Check out all of the areas for possible items to use. How to use: Fill this tub about half way with very warm/hot water (as hot as you can take it). Now add the left over tea bag after your tea is ready. By the time the tea bag has been used and it has been put into the larger container of water, it is diluted enough to where there isn't much of a chance of it staining your skin. I got this idea from a spa I went to and I really liked it. It's a nice way to soak your feet. I'm a firm believer in the healing power of tea, both when ingested and even when used topically.
3. Foot brush/pumice stone: One of these combo brushes (example here: http://www.sallybeauty.com/Pumice-Foot-Brush/SBS-177215,default,pd.html) is perfect for double duty. It allows you to scrub your feet after they have soaked for a while. Then use the pumice stone side to wear down any rough spots or calluses. I showed that one, but the one that I have is actually from, you guessed it, the Dollar Tree, for $1. Yay.
4. Nail Buffer Block: I love these! I'm sure you've seen them, but if you haven't tried them, I think they are the best! The one I have is similar to the one on the right (though not exact). I just replaced mine with one I got at Target. I can't remember if it was $1.49 or $1.97 (weird amounts to remember, right) but I know it was less than $2. Look for the blocks that are labeled on all sides. Mine is actually numbered too, so that you know to use which ones in which order. By the time you gently use each side of the block on your nail, it is shiny and smooth. Use the filing edge to file the edges of your nails into the shape you'd like. When you are finished with your nails this way, you can choose to leave them "blank" as I like to call it (no polish) or you can use this base as the perfect way to start your polish job.
5. Cuticle Pen: I just came across these from one of my favorite little splurge sites (www.eyeslipsface.com). I do mean little splurge too, since most items are $1. When I feel like I want to try a new color or something different with my makeup, I hit ELF and will probably refer to it frequently on my site as I've found some great bargains there on products that are definitely worth more than what I paid for them. This particular product, http://www.eyeslipsface.com/nails/nourishing_cuticle_pen, is a cuticle pen. Simply take off the cap and use the sturdy, treatment filled tip to push back your cuticles and run it around the edges to soften the skin. It contains nourishing oils which are perfect for your skin and cuticles. No cutting required! (Which by the way, I read somewhere that cuticle cutting is bad for you, so I try to never do this!)
6. Toe Separators: Again, at ELF, I found bargain toe seperators for $1 (http://www.eyeslipsface.com/nails/toe_separators). Regardless of whether or not you are planning to paint your toe nails, I suggest using these babies for at least a few minutes. There is something completely relaxing about putting them between your toes, feeling that little bit of stretch there, and then taking them out and feeling the relief and relaxation. I actually will use my toe separators even if I'm not doing the full on pedicure. Put them on, sit back for a few minutes and relax.
7. Foot cream. If you are going to splurge on any part of this, a good foot cream can go a long way. While you can find some items that are less expensive at drug stores, I really like the Mentha Foot Tingling Foot Cream from the CO Bigelow line at Bath and Body Works. It runs $14 for a tube, but that will last you a long time as a little will go a long way. Rub this on your feet and sit back for a while. It tingles a little, giving you this really neat sensation. And again, a little goes a long way. If you aren't polishing, you can stop right here. If you are polishing, go ahead.
8. Cute nail polish. ELF has a lot of cute nail polish colors for only $1 each: http://www.eyeslipsface.com/nails/nail_polish. If you are getting for yourself, get what you like. If you are getting for a gift, I'd probably stick with one of the french manicure sets found here: http://www.eyeslipsface.com/nails/nail_polish_sets. ($3 for the set of three). Before you polish, I suggest swiping nail polish remover over each toe. You can get nail polish remover pads at ELF as well (for $1 of course). You can add those to the gift set if you'd like. I swipe the nail polish remover over the nails at this point because if you've used the foot cream, you'll want to get rid of that from the tops of your nails. Now, if you normally keep your toes painted (as I do) then skip doing a base coat. I never let my toes go naked (without polish) so if a dark color stains a tad, I'm not worried. If you do go without polish though, use a top coat of clear polish first to protect them. Then do your color. I prefer dark on my toes In fact, I usually use my toes to go crazy. I'll use bright colors, purples, greens, blues on my toes. It's a fun little way to go a little crazy, but without losing my professional appearance. I try to be more conservative on my finger nails.
Nail polish application technique: I have a quick and easy nail polish technique - which is to use three simple strokes. One wide, flat stroke against the left edge of the nail. One wide flat stroke against the right. One down the middle. If you do it correctly, that's all you'll need. It reduces room for mistakes. If you do get it on the edge of your nail bed, I usually leave it. Once it dries, you can scrape it off pretty easy.
Apply 2 coats of your color polish. Any more is overkill. Let several minutes (5) pass between coat applications.
Apply 1 coat of clear polish.
Sit and relax.
9. Here is where you can get creative. Personally, during the whole process, I like to use it as girly time. My pedicure used to be my Sunday night ritual, that I would do all while sitting back and watching Sex and the City. Now I tend to time it around other shows I like to watch that are girly, like the Real Housewives of...whatever, Project Runway, or even Grey's Anatomy. If you are giving as a gift, feel free to add in a girly movie, DVD series, etc. Or if the person is a music lover, throw in a relaxing CD of some sort. Book lovers? Throw in a book too! If they are relaxing with their tootsies propped up, what better time is there to get in some reading.
Well, that's my solution to the perfect pedicure. If you want to get a little more involved, you can do things like using a "shaver" for extra rough feet. Or you can use a scrub on your feet. They also have special treatments that you can put on your feet and then wrap them up to get them nice and moist.
But whatever you do, I suggest that you make it special. People spend the extra money at spas and salons so that they can feel pampered. If you try to do your nails in between loads of laundry and dishes, then it is just another chore. But if you sit back, relax, and block of an "appointment" time of your own at home, then it is more of a treat.
Plus, if you want an even more frugal way of looking at it, you can "tip yourself" at the end of your pedicure and put $5 or $10 in your savings account. If you give yourself a pedicure each week, that's $40 a month right there! You'd tip a manicurist wouldn't you? So tip yourself instead! Or if you really want to start saving, put the entire amount (including tip) that you would have spent on the pedicure into your savings. All of that will add up over time.