How to Apply Nail Polish on Toes



Many people think that knowing how to apply nail polish on toes comes naturally. But does it?

How often have you painted your toenails and ended up with a huge mess? It takes a bit of trial and error to give yourself the perfect pedicure. 

The good news is that it’s not that difficult. All you need is the right technique. 

And remember, a pedicure isn’t only about painting your toenails. We’re going to tell you how to give your feet a little love too.

Applying Nail Polish On Toes

Applying nail polish never seems complicated. That is until you have to do your dominant hand. Luckily, this problem doesn’t exist when applying nail polish on toes.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy to get the perfect pedicure. Sure, if you’re in a hurry, you can simply apply the nail polish and carry on with your day. 

But if you have the time, why not pamper yourself a little? Let’s take a look at what you’ll need for a relaxing pedicure.

What You’ll Need

  • Footbath or foot tub (a baby bath will work too)
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail buffer
  • Nail file
  • Foot file
  • Toe separators (or paper towels to divide the toes)
  • Cuticle oil
  • Body scrub (optional)
  • Essential oils and mineral salt (optional)
  • Foot cream or body cream
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Nail polish remover
  • Cotton balls
  • Nail polish (basecoat, long-lasting nail polish, and top coat)

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Before you begin, prepare a comfortable space to work. You want a space that will be easy to clean up when you’re done. 

If you have a small coffee table, that would work well as a footrest while painting your toes. 

Wherever you decide to work, cover the area with an old towel. This prevents staining on furniture and fabrics. 

This might seem like an unnecessary step. But all it takes is one knock and everything will be covered in nail polish or nail polish remover.

This is especially important if you’re using acetone nail polish remover. Acetone is a powerful chemical and will stain wood and fabric. 

As an extra precaution, you can place plastic food wrap under the towel as well. This will stop the remover from soaking through the towel and onto the furniture. 

Now that your workspace is set up, let’s get to the important stuff.

Prepping Your Feet

Remove Old Nail Polish

If you have old nail polish on your toenails, you need to remove it. 

Soak a few small pieces of cotton in nail polish remover. Place a piece on each nail and leave for 2-minutes. 

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You’ll be able to push the nail polish off with ease. Any remaining nail polish will be minimal and there’ll be no staining. 

Soak Your Feet

Soaking softens any rough, hard, and dry skin. And honestly, it feels pretty great too. 

Every home pedicure should include a 10-minute soak. It soothes sore joints and makes dead skin removal easier.

If you’re in the mood for a real pamper session, add some essential oils and salts. Lavender and chamomile are both great for relaxation and relieving stress. 

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You can also do an exfoliating scrub if you want. This will make it easier to remove tough calluses. 

Remove Dead Skin and Moisturize

After soaking your feet, pat them dry with a towel. Use a foot file to remove any hard, rough skin. 

Calluses tend to form on the back and sides of our feet. This is where we place the most pressure when walking. 

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When removing dead skin, use the foot file at a 45-degree angle for the best results. 

Once you’re satisfied, rinse and dry your feet again. Moisturize with foot cream, body cream, or even vaseline. 

The soaking, foot scrub, and filing will have removed the moisture from your feet. Hydrate with the lotion of your choice. 

Trim, Shape, File, and Buff Nails

Now that your feet are feeling soft and smooth, you need to trim your toenails. It’s up to you how short you want them to be. 

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Toenail shapes are generally either square or round. Use the nail file at a 45-degree angle to get your desired shape. 

When buffing your nails, always be careful not to overbuff. The rough grit side should only be used to even out any imperfections. It should be used lightly to avoid damaging the nail bed. 

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Once all imperfections are gone, use the finer grit side to smooth the top of the nail. 

Side note: if you want, you can push your cuticles back. They’ll be softened after the soak, and it will be easy to push them back.

Use the cuticle remover for dry skin only. Trimming the cuticles can lead to infections. 

Painting Your Toenails

Prep the Nails

First things first, put on your toe separators. This prevents the toes from touching and smudging the polish.

Next, rub a thin layer of vaseline or cuticle oil on your cuticles. This is how to keep nail polish off the skin. Even if you’re a pro at doing your nails, accidents happen. 

If your hand slips, the vaseline or oil will make it easy to clean the polish. 

Clean the Nail Plate

Lotions and creams tend to have a ton of oils in them. You will need to clean this off your nails before starting. 

If you don’t clean the nails first, then the polish won’t ‘stick’ properly. Your manicure won’t last very long. 

You can use nail polish remover and a cotton ball or paper towel. You don’t need to use much remover for this.

Applying the Polish

The Base Coat

Once the nails are prepped, apply the base coat and wait for it to dry. When we do home pedicures, we often leave this step out. But a basecoat is as important for a pedicure as it is for a manicure. 

If you want to ensure the pedicure lasts, use our bonder base coat. If you want, you can add a second coat too.

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Applying the Nail Polish

Painting our toenails is easier since we won’t be painting our dominant hand. And yet, it’s a bit more awkward since we have to lean forward to do it. 

You need to start close to the cuticle without actually touching it. There will be exposed edges which is fine for the moment. 

Start painting on one side of the nail and then the other side. After you paint the middle, you can go back to the exposed edges. 

You don’t need much nail polish on those edges, so don’t saturate the brush. 

Allow the polish to dry and then paint the second coat. 

Wondering how to keep nail polish from streaking? Keep the first coat of polish thin, then apply a thicker second coat. 

If there are still streaks, apply a very thin third coat. 

The Top Coat

The topcoat is what blinds it all together. It keeps the pedicure glossy or matte, whichever is your preference. If matte is what you want, see our article on how to apply matte nail polish. 

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Yes, topcoats do have the reputation for taking ages to dry. You can use our Spritz Dry or flash dry drops. You won’t have to wait hours for your pedicure to dry properly.

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The topcoat will ensure that your pedicure lasts longer. Skipping this step could put all your previous effort to waste. 

Final Word

Knowing how to apply nail polish on your toes is simple enough. The process is similar to a manicure, with a few key differences.

You need toe separators or something similar. This will stop your toes from touching and ruining all your hard work. 

Pedicures also involve removing dead, callused skin.

Soaking your feet tends to be more relaxing than soaking your hands. There’s just something soothing about having your feet in hot water. 

Add in some essential oils and mineral salts, and it will feel like a real spa day. 

As a general rule. pedicures last longer than manicures. That doesn’t mean that you should skip the basecoat or topcoat. 

We hope this article helps you with painting your toenails.

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