Do you live in a warm climate and sport sandals daily or tread often in bare feet? Regardless of the climate you live in or the frequency with which you walk barefoot, your feet can easily become tired and worn. Don’t neglect the bottom of your soles, heels, or nails! Each can truly benefit from a monthly herbal-infused pedicure.
Unfortunately, a trip to the spa for a pedicure isn’t always the best (or cheapest) option. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that outbreaks of skin infections on the legs and feet of patrons following spa pedicures have caused concern about spa safety, as microorganisms in foot spas can enter through the skin (Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.). Due to these risks, I often turn to an all-natural, three-step herbal-infused pedicure at home to support beautiful, strong nails and soft soles.
Herbs and Essential Oils Recommended for Nails
What herbs and essential oils help support healthy and strong nails?
The following herbs and essential oils are lovely to use in homemade recipes for nails. Each can be applied to nails by adding 1 to 2 drops of the essential oil to 1 teaspoon of fractionated coconut oil or used fresh from the herb in a foot soak or scrub.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
Eucalyptus globulus comes from the large, aromatic eucalyptus trees of the Myrtaceae family. The tree’s leaves are steam distilled to produce the earthy, fresh oil that is popular in personal care products and spa treatments. It is one my favorites to use for the feet, as it lends an invigorating tingle. The clean scent of eucalyptus can also be effective against stinky foot odors.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
This beautiful and fragrant perennial is loved by bees and humans alike. Likely one of the most popular herbs (and my most favorite), lavender is highly versatile. From skin care products to relaxing routines, this herb can infuse many areas of your life with its benefits. Lavender has antiseptic and antibacterial properties that make it quite beneficial for skin and nails (Foster, 1993). Plus, it has an amazing soft floral scent that promotes relaxation acting as a mild sedative (Edwards, 2000). You can’t go wrong by including fresh or dried lavender in a herbal-infused pedicure routine!
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary is a rather good-sized herb, similar to a woody bush. Its natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties make it a great addition to homemade skincare recipes for the feet (McIntyre, 1996). I love to combine it with lemon, peppermint, or lavender for lovely fresh scent. Rosemary helps to stimulate blood flow in the skin, which is great for tired feet and legs (McIntyre, 1996)!
3 Steps for an Herbal-Infused Pedicure
Step 1: Soak & Trim
Start by pouring the contents of an herbal-infused pedicure soak (recipe below) into a large basin or fill the bathtub with a few inches of warm to hot water. Find a comfy seat and soak your feet in the herbal mixture for 10 to 15 minutes. I like to read a book or magazine while my feet are soaking. The warm water and herbs will help soften your feet and nails, making it easier to trim your nails. After soaking, pat your feet dry on a towel, then trim and file nails in a rounded shape that follows the shape of the nail bed.
Herbal-Infused Pedicure Soak
4 cups water
1 tablespoon fresh or dried lavender buds
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh lemon peel zest
4 drops eucalyptus, Eucalyptus globulus essential oil
1 tablespoon sweet almond oil
1/4 cup Epsom salts
- Heat water over the stove top until a soft simmer begins, then remove from heat and add herbs. Cover with a lid and let steep for 10-15 minutes.
- Strain herbal-infused water and set aside.
- Combine 4 drops of eucalyptus essential oil with sweet almond oil and mix into Epsom salts. Add this mixture to the herbal-infused water.
- Add to herbal-infused pedicure soak to a basin or bath and use immediately. Enjoy!
Step 2: Scrub & Exfoliate
After soaking your feet and trimming your nails, it’s time to exfoliate with Citrus Rosemary Foot Scrub. Scoop a small amount of foot scrub into your hand. Massage into your feet using small, circular motions, and be sure to include the cuticles! Next, wrap each foot in a warm, damp hand towel and allow to soak for 5 to 10 minutes to reap all the herbal benefits.
Citrus Rosemary Foot Scrub
1/4 cup pink Himalayan salt, coarse
1 cup sea salt, fine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 drops rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1/8 cup coconut oil, fractionated
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon lemon peel zest
2 tablespoons grapefruit peel zest
- Combine 1/4 cup pink Himalayan salt and 1 cup sea salt in a medium-sized glass mixing bowl. While stirring, add in lemon juice and grapefruit juice. In a small bowl, combine fractionated coconut oil and rosemary essential oil. Then, add this to the salt mixture and stir until combined thoroughly.
- Chop or tear a fresh sprig of rosemary and add to the scrub along with lemon peel zest and grapefruit peel zest. Stir once more to combine and follow the steps above to use.
- Store excess foot scrub in an airtight container and use within a week or two.
Remove the damp towels from your feet and wipe away the foot scrub. Rinse with water and pat dry. Cutting cuticles is not recommended, as it can put you at risk for infections and ingrown nails. Yuck! Instead, use an orangewood stick to gently push cuticles back from the face of the nail.
Step 3: Replenish & Moisturize
To nourish the nail and cuticles, apply a small amount of replenishing cuticle oil from the recipe below onto each cuticle. Rub the oil into the cuticles and nail beds. Use up to three times a week as needed for dry, cracking cuticles and nails.
Replenishing Cuticle Oil
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon vegetable glycerine
1 teaspoon jojoba oil
6 drops of lavender, Lavandula angustifolia essential oil
4 drops of lemon, Citrus x limon essential oil
2 drops of rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil
1-ounce glass dropper bottle
- Using a funnel, add 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerine, and 1 teaspoon jojoba oil to a glass dropper bottle.
- Remove the funnel and add the essential oils.
- Place the dropper on the bottle and give it a shake to combine.
- Apply using the instructions above.
Following the cuticle oil treatment, buff each nail and apply a moisturizer to your feet such as my recipe for a green tea body butter or texas cedarwood lotion. Repeat these three steps for an herbal-infused pedicure monthly or whenever you make time for self-care.
Whether you’re treading barefoot or just taking time to a little time for yourself I hope you find these methods for an herbal-infused pedicure useful. I know what a difference a little “me time” can make. And taking care of our feet at home sans the spa is so affordable you can enjoy a pedicure anytime!
Edwards, G. (2000). Opening our wild hearts to the healing herbs. Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Publishing.
Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Preventing pedicure foot spa infections. [Online Article]. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/safepestcontrol/preventing-pedicure-foot-spa-infections
Foster, S. (1993). Herbal renaissance. Layton, UT: Peregrine Smith Books.
McIntyre, A. (1996). Flower power. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, Inc.