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Over the past month or so, to the delight of clawing customers, nail salons have started reopening throughout the country. Then, this week, a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases forced parts of California to roll back that reopening, while other states are considering similar measures. Amid the uncertainty, a lot of us are taking matters into our own hands.
Simply put, when you finally learn how to do your own nails, shutdowns and lockdowns no longer equal lackluster digits. Perfecting at-home manicures and pedicures also means no appointments, no mask-wearing, and no worrying. All you need is patience and practice—and maybe a few YouTube videos.
Oh, and don’t forget a drawer full of salon-level beauty booty. The DIY mani/pedi products below are not only superior in quality, but they’re also gentle and non-toxic. Think all-natural foot creams, formaldehyde-free nail polishes, and nail polish removers that won’t make your toes curl. Plus lots of ergonomic grooming tools.
Stock up now and say hello to healthier, happier hands and feet.
In the absence of regular care, your cuticles might be out of control—but this rich cream can reel them back in. Made with nourishing goat milk and essential oils designed to soften skin and replenish moisture, Beekman 1802 Goat Milk Cuticle Cream is a great way to keep your skin supple and your nails growing healthy and strong. Apply is before and after your DIY manicure.
Cuticles aren’t the only part of the hand that needs a healthy dose of hydration to be their best. Get into the habit of applying this top-rated cream by Korres liberally to your hands to treat dry, crepe-y skin before, after, and in-between manicures. Olive oil, one of the purest moisturizers you can get your hands on, joins ingredients like glycerin and shea butter to deliver serious suppleness.
Been spending more time on your tootsies lately? There’s nothing like ending a long week of walking with a good soak. This one has tried-and-true Epsom salts, which help relieve stress, detox your dogs, and kill fungus and bacteria. The lavender-scented soak will also soften dry skin and calluses, ease aches, and alleviate itch. But Epsom salt can be drying in the long run, so this one uses aloe and jojoba oil for ultimate silkiness.
Shop it: Calming Lavender Foot Soak with Epsom Salt, $18, amazon.com
Pumice stones are pedicure mainstays—the only downside is all that manual rubbing and scrubbing. Enter this best-selling battery-operated device that buffs away rough, callused skin automatically using a micro-mineral roller that’s super-effective and easy to clean. One customer called it “a game changer” that renders professional pedicures completely unnecessary.
When your heels get hard and tough, it feels like no amount of moisture will restore them to their former glory. This goat milk-infused heel polish uses ingredients like glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acid to get to the healthy skin beneath, softening your soles and making them utterly sandal-ready.
Clipping and Trimming Tools
The reputation of the Tweezerman brand is so solid that you can be sure any of its grooming tools are top-notch. This fingernail and toenail clipper set is a fan favorite at Target, and customers say they’re “good quality, sturdy and stand the test of time.” Stainless steel blades and an ergonomic design make these clippers keepers for years to come.
Shop it: Tweezerman Nail Clipper Set, $11, target.com
If there’s anything more satisfying than a good cuticle nipping, we haven’t found it. Of course, the delicate skin around your fingers requires precision tools, and this sharp pair have passed the test. They even come with a 30-day money back guarantee as well as almost 800 five five-star reviews from “truly impressed” shoppers.
Shop it: Cuticle Trimmer with Cuticle Pusher, $10, amazon.com
Your old-fashioned emery boards are all grown up and more glam than ever. These high-quality glass nail files were by handcrafted by Czech artisans to provide the cleanest, most precise shaping and smoothing of nails. Many believe glass nail files help seal the nail, so it doesn’t crack, chip, or split as often. The fancy files come in various levels of abrasion and tuck neatly into a velvet carrying case.
If traditional emery boards are your bag, this Revlon favorite belongs in your mani/pedi arsenal. Two different filing surfaces alternate between coarse and coarser, and four buffing surfaces offer a variety of smoothing options. The $3.50 won’t make you grit your teeth, either.
Nourishing Nail Polishes
A lot of the best non-toxic nail polishes are on board with “seven free” formulations, meaning they’re free of formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, camphor, parabens, and xylene — which are pretty standard ingredients in traditional nail polishes. Pacifica seven free polish comes in 29 fun colors, like super summer-y, sea green Mermaid, pictured above.
It’s all in the name—this non-toxic, vegan Sally Hansen formulation is gentle and kind to your nails, using all natural, plant-based ingredients. And forget seven—this nail polish is 16-free, meaning it bans additional chemicals like acetone, ethyl tosylamide, bisphenol A, and other ingredients that should never make contact with your skin. One customer said, “I can get three weeks on a pedicure with this polish.” Choose from 29 cool colors, like the sweet neutral Coconut Milk.
Shop it: Sally Hansen - Good. Kind. Pure Vegan Nail Colour, $6.72, amazon.com
Your summer is looking bright, and this fab foursome of nontoxic nail polishes will provide just the pop your fingertips need. Zoya is a beloved 10-free brand with long-lasting nail polishes that won’t do long-term damage. It’s vegan and cruelty-free—and at less than $4 a bottle, it’s also supremely cost-effective.
Shop it: ZOYA Nail Polish Quad, $15, amazon.com
Deborah Lippmann nail polishes have made a name for themselves as chip-free formulations, but they offer so much more. They’re seven-free, fast-drying, long-wearing, and act as high-gloss gel polishes, but without the UV lamp. Their dense brushes are also great for newbie self-manicurists, letting the color glide on easily. Invest in this set of three colors plus a bottle of nourishing cuticle oil.
Seal in your UV-free at-home gel manicure with this set of base and top coats, which are seven-free and require no lamps to set and no soaking to remove. The base creates a mesh-like coating that binds to nail polish, with the result being as close to a salon gel manicure as you’ll get while maintaining the integrity and health of your nail.
You don’t need harsh chemicals to fortify your nails against breaking and splitting. Ella + Mila Nail Strengthener is seven-free and keeps nails strong and thick using powerful vitamin E. The brush-on strengthener should be used daily for at least four weeks, then kept as a base coat underneath nail polish after. Ulta fans give this formulation a 4.9 rating—near-pefect.
Shop it: Ella+Mila Nail Care Nail Strengthener (First Aid Kiss) , $12.90, target.com
Gentle Nail Polish Removers
Traditional nail polish removers are so chemical-heavy they can make your eyes water, but this solution by Ella + Mila is soy-based and contains no acetone or harsh acetates. It’s vegan, cruelty-free, and PETA-certified, yet still totally effective at doing what it’s meant to do: removing nail polish. More than 1,100 shoppers give it a five star rating.
Shop it: Ella+Mila Soy Nail Polish Remover, $14, target.com
There are two types of people in the world: those who mess with liquid nail polish remover and cotton pads, and those who want the whole mess wrapped up into one manageable, individually wrapped towelette. For the latter category, respected brand Cote brings you this non-toxic solution. Each box comes with eight acetone-free, orange-scented wipes that remove nail polish gently and effectively.
Shop it: Cote Takeoff Towels - Polish Remover, $14, amazon.com
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