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DIY Nail Art: Pretty Spring Pedicures


Girl painting her toes
Photo Credit: ELLE

It’s officially sandal weather, and you know what that means – time to get your feet in shape after they’ve been stuck in boots all winter.

A professional pedi can’t be beat, but we college gals can be short on time and money, so below, I’ll show you how to give yourself a pedicure in your dorm and make sure your tootsies look picture-perfect.

Once they’re in shape, get ready to step out with some fun nail art on your toes!

First Things First: Getting Perfect Feet

Make sure you’re starting with a clean slate and remove any old polish that you have on your toenails.

Second, It’s best to give yourself a pedicure right after getting out of the shower. This will basically imitate the effect of a foot soak at a salon (if you want to get really fancy, check here to learn how to make your own foot soak – perfect for a girls’ night in!) while saving time, effort and cash. Your feet will be nice and soft from the warm water, which will make them easier to scrub and help lock in more moisture.

However, you should trim and shape your nails before showering, because your nails are weaker when they’re wet and they could tear easily when you’re cutting them. For the most flattering shape, square your nails off and then round the edges a bit.

Once you’ve showered or given your feet a good soak, follow the steps in our tutorial on prepping your feet for sandal season. Now you’re ready for polish!

Twinkle Toes: Nail Art for Your Tootsies

Never attempted nail art on your toes? Here are three good reasons to give it a shot:

  1. It’s easier to do on your toenails than it is on your fingernails. Putting designs on your toes means you can use your dominant hand the entire time!
  2. It will last longer. One of the worst things about nail art is that, after you put in the effort to make your nails look super awesome, they will probably chip in a few days. But toenail polish tends to last much longer because you (probably) don’t use your toes as tools like you do your fingers. Your masterpiece will be much less likely to chip.
  3. It’s fun and unique, but less conspicuous. Have you been wanting to try out something fun on your nails that might be inappropriate for your job or internship? Your toes are the perfect place, because it’s easy to cover them if you need to.

Tips and Tricks

When painting my toes, I actually find it can be better to paint horizontally across the nail. This can be a slightly less awkward angle than trying to paint outward from the nail bed to the tip, and it helps prevent chipping. However, it can be hard to get close to your cuticles without slathering the on polish when you’re moving the brush horizontally, so to cover those areas, paint away from yourself, going outward from the nail bed to the tip.

3 Pedicure Nail Art Ideas

1. Glitter

Pedicure nail art - loose glitter
{Sephora by OPI Jewelry Top Coat in “Spark-tacular!“}

One fun, easy way to get some fun toenail art is by choosing a cool glitter top coat. This wouldn’t be anything extraordinary on your hands, but on your feet it’s quirky and unexpected.

2. Chevron Stripes

Pedicure nail art - chevron polish
{OPI in “Hey! Get in Lime”, Essie in “Trophy Wife”, and Missguided Nail Varnish in “Misstique”}

I also tried out one of my favorite nail designs on my toes – sort of a single chevron stripe, with three colors in the same family. To get this look, paint your toes with a base color, then take a different color and paint diagonally across your nail from one corner of your nail bed to the opposite tip. With a third color, paint diagonally across again, painting over part of the other color stripe.

To make it really different, I used three different finishes: The base coat is matte, the color going from left to right is shimmer and the one going from right to left is a standard creme. For more info on this, see our post on the differences between polish finishes.

3. Nail Stickers

Pedicure nail art - Nail stickers
{Sephora by OPI Nail Embellishment Stickers}

Your toes can also be a great place for nail stickers. I used a few that I’ve been holding onto since Christmas, and they turned out beautifully! (Sorry if it’s hard to see from the picture!)

You can also use designs that you would normally put on your fingernails on your feet – try fun stripes, make some pretty flowers or stick on a few rhinestones. You can even go with a fun neon design. Nail art on your toes is a great way of expressing yourself, so don’t hold back!

What Do You Think?

What are your best pedicure tips? How do you make them last? Do you have a favorite color for your feet? Have you ever had a really fun design on your toes? Let’s talk all about pedicures in the comment section below!

Posted on on April 26, 2012 / Filed Under: Beauty & Hair / Tags: , , , , , , ,

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15 Responses to “DIY Nail Art: Pretty Spring Pedicures”

  1. 1
    April 26th, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Cute ideas! I never think to do nail art on my toes but I’m definitely going to try it out now. Here’s hoping it comes out better than my hand nail art attempts – I think being able to use my right hand for the whole thing will definitely help, like you said.

  2. 2
    April 26th, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Ok–I MUST share this because I’m so into nail art right now (especially spring nail art!)

    Glitter and stickers are cute, but I was browsing on Amazon and I found “fimo sticks”, where you slice off a tiny piece of the stick (it’s like a sticker), and glue it onto your nail.

    They are sooooooo cute!! I got the 100 pack–so I have 100 different “fimo” stickers to do nail art with :o) Love!!

  3. 3
    April 26th, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Here is a link to the cute fimo sticks if you want to know what I’m talking about.

    Gah, I love nail art..

  4. 4
    April 27th, 2012 at 12:09 am

    I love this article having glitter toes is to much fun and you can see it a mile away. One thing thats fun is to drop real glitter right on the top coat and let dry…

  5. 5
    April 27th, 2012 at 1:58 am

    I love the first one! I use my Essie polish to achieve that look.

  6. 6
    April 27th, 2012 at 2:23 am

    I have the exact same kind of nails and toes! :D

  7. 7
    April 27th, 2012 at 7:34 am

    This is interesting, esp the part about painting your toe horizontally. I never do nail art on my toes because they’re too far (from eyelevel) to see so I always do all my nail art on my fingers.

  8. 8
    April 27th, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Although it feels better to do it right after a shower, like the author says about shaping, your nails will be not only weak, but misshapen when wet. You should wait for them to dry 100% before applying polish or the polish will be more prone to cracks and chips (because the polish will dry to the shape of your wet nail, not dry). Just my 2 cents =)

  9. 9
    April 27th, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I tried glitter toenails a couple of weeks ago just for the heck of it and it looked SPECTACULAR. I sucked though, because the weather was cold, and I couldn’t show it off. Now that spring is coming here in Canada, I will definitely be painting the glitter on my toes again!!!

  10. 10
    April 27th, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one that’s kind of pedi obsessed- one if my jobs is waiting tables, so I can’t have my fingers painted practically ever. Yours are all cute, I think its time for me to stop using dark subversive colors so much. Haha. Also, I’m glad in not the only one with a silly rebel toe! <3

  11. 11
    April 29th, 2012 at 10:22 am

    I LOVE glitter and use it when ever I can.
    Really nice information here, thank you very much!


  12. 12
    April 22nd, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Glitters is the best idea!!! Looks really fun

  13. 13
    February 1st, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    do you any type of glue or just a dot of base coat

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