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Summer Feet Retreat: The Natural Pedicure Essentials

It’s almost sandal time in the Northern hemisphere and with that comes the unveiling of winter feet. After a long (let me tell you, it has been a l o n g) winter I thought now would be a good time to shed some light on some of the best natural care for your precious pads. Here you’ll find a pedicure product manual for the natural lover and pedicure fanatic alike.

Remove: Scotch Naturals & Sante Naturkosmetik Polish Removers

Before you start prettying up the toes, get yourself some natural nail polish remover – and make sure it’s either Sante Naturkosmetik’s or Scotch Naturals. Most conventional nail polish remover is filled with chemicals that can literally take paint off, so switching to a more natural version was essential for me. Most recently I’ve been loving Scotch Naturals, while this was a newer addition for me, it was equally as effective as my tried and true SANTE’s Nail Polish remover. I had been using SANTE’s for over a year and am still on the same bottle. It lasts. While both take a bit of extra work getting off the deeper colours, they both work and are non-toxic.

While I would still recommend using any polish remover in a well ventilated area (they still aren’t great for our health), their ingredient lists are short and not overly dangerous. The ingredient list for SANTE‘s is alcohol (denatured) ethyl lactate, castor seed oil, water, orange oil, limonene and linalool. Ingredients for Scotch‘s include: methyl soyate , dimethyl adipate (both rated a “0” on EWG’s database) and dymethil glutarate.

Because your nails are porous and absorb chemicals much like your skin does, I would recommend going with the least toxic formulation you can find – these two are top of my list. 

Scotch Naturals retails for about $12 USD a bottle and can be shopped online in the UK, online in the US and globally over at Spirit Beauty Lounge.

SANTE’s remover retails for about the same price, $12 USD and can be picked up online in the US , and globally over at Amazon.

Soak: Create Your Own with Sea Salt & Mountain Rose Herbs Essential Oils

I have never really purchased a foot soak, mainly because they are so easy to make at home and take no time. In your footbath, or tub, combine:

  • Four litres of Water
  • 1/4 Cup of Sea Salt (or Epsom Salt)
  • 4 Drops of your favourite Essential Oil (I love peppermint and lavender for foot soaks)
When picking essential oils, it is important to avoid the synthetic oils (I’ve blogged about that previously here when I chatted about naturally scenting your home). My favourite brand of essential oils, because of their purity, is Mountain Rose Herbs. Their oils’ quality, in my view, are unparalleled and many of their oils are therapeutic grade (meaning under specific guidelines they can be ingested). Further still, many of their oils are organic. You can shop in their online store here – their selection is incredible.

Soak for as long as you like and then use these next beauty products for a scrub.

Scrub: Neal’s Yard Pumice Foot Scrub & Eco Tools Brush & Pumice

For scrubbing my feet, I love Neal’s Yard Pumice Foot Scrub. Using a combination of peach seed and pumice powder, this scrub gently sloughs off unwanted “cells” (it was the most polite way to put it). It also has ginseng and mint to help liven up your peds and put a bounce in your step. It’s gentle enough that your hands won’t be ripped up, while strong enough to work at even the toughest heels. Shop Neal’s Yard in the UK here,  here in the US, here in Canada (starting summer 2013), and global shoppers can find locations here. 

This one, while great for pedicures, is also in my daily shower regime. The brush side is great for giving a good cleanse to the feet, while the pumice stone is perfect if you need a bit more of a serious scrub. At $4 USD, it is a great beauty buy, and its eco friendly too. Eco Tools uses bamboo and cruelty free bristles in their foot brush, so I have a clean conscience when using their products. You can find Eco tools here in the US, at Boots in the UK and selected retailers globally.

Moisturize: Coconut Oil & Tea Tree Oil Blend & Balm Balm Foot Balm

I’ve previously blogged about Balm Balm Foot Balm here, so I won’t go into major details, other than that this product is fantastic for soothing feet and keeping them relatively germ free with the help of some natural tea tree oil. This is one of my favourite products for the feet and has remained so for the better part of a year. With that in mind, if you can’t get your hands on Balm Balm via their online shop, European readers can from one of the many retailers here, and North American readers can find Balm Balm here.

If you want a quick DIY recipe, just mix together the following for a great make-shift foot balm:

  • 1 tsp of coconut oil and 
  • two drops of tea tree oil

While the oil will be a bit more “oilier” than if you had a balm, it still does a brilliant job of moisturizing your feet, and both tea tree oil and coconut oil are anti-fungal, so great for the athletes and yoga studio goers alike.  

Paint: 3-Free Nail Polish Butter London & 5-Free Nail Polish Zoya

Have you heard of the toxic trio? If not, it’s time to get yourself aquainted with these three ingredients:

  • Dibutyl phthalate (may cause birth defects and known for increasing organ system toxicity)
  • Toluene (may cause birth defects and is toxic to the nervous system and linked to malignant lymphoma)
  • Formaldehyde (a major known carcinogen)
These are the three major “no-nos” found in some conventional nail polishes; however, thanks to all the bad publicity around these three chemicals, many major companies took them out. You’ll be glad to know a lot of popular brands are 3-Free.
  • Butter London (Also free of Parabens)
  • OPI’s newer ranges (from 2007 Australia Collection)
  • MAC
  • China Glaze
  • NARS
  • Estee Lauder (among others) 
But that doesn’t make these polishes completely safe. There are still loads of chemicals in conventional nail polish. Lucky for us, we can also find other brands which cut the chemicals down even further – the 5-Free brands. They have removed additional ingredients:
  • Formaldehyde Resin (an allergin, and not as toxic as formaldehyde)
  • Camphor (can cause seizures when ingested, and is toxic to the liver)
Brands that are 5-Free include some of my favourites (which are just as beautiful on) include:
Other brands you can find include:
And you can go a step further with water-based nail polishes. These are virtually toxic free and are mostly free from harmful fumes. I must note, however, they have been known to not be as smooth and lovely as some of the other “chemical brands”. Some have been known to go on unevenly, have clumps, come off quickly and others require many coats to achieve the desired shade. That being said, if you’re keen to stay away from the toxins but still want colourful nails, I can recommend making the switch. Here are some brands to choose from:
Summer ready feet, naturally.

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  • Lady Grey

    Great article!
    The one unnatural product I still occasionally use is nail polish (mostly Essie). I hardly do my nails anyway, but I bought a few Scotch Naturals colours and I just found them horrible. Within the first day of wear my nails were completely chipped, I used the topcoat but no basecoat…. any tips to work with that brand? I love the fact that they’re water based… but now I’m a little turned off of trying other water based brands.

    Also, I’d totally recommend using those little cotton socks & gloves overnight. I just apply a nice lotion or pure shea butter and then put them on, in the morning my hands/feet are sooo soft!

    Oh, and have you seen this brand called Love and Toast? My local health food store just started carrying it and I bought a few of their products… oh my god. Best smelling + cutest packaged natural skin care products EVER! My favourite so far is the Sugar Grapefruit Handcreme.

    • Thanks Lady Grey :-)
      I know what you mean with regard to water based nail polish!! It just doesn’t do the trick. I have had a struggle with them and so when I do paint my nails I stick to the 3 and 5-free brands.
      As for tips with regard to Scotch and chipping, I’ve used a good top coat – Butter London makes a good one.
      I haven’t heard of Love and Tost – I’ll need to look into them!! Thanks for the heads up. I love hearing about new brands.
      Good addition on the cotton socks & gloves – silky smooth skin!!

  • Skin Direct

    Love the colors!! nice post about natural pedicure essentials. Like all these products thanks for sharing with us valuable post, great job..

    Glytone Exfoliating Lotion

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  • Guro

    I have one from Korres with the following list on:

    Silicone free

    Acetone free

    Phthalate free

    Formaldehyde free

    Camphor free

    Toluene free

    Xylene free

    Does Phthalate free mean that it is also free for Dibutyl phthalate? And does formaldehyde mean it is free from Formaldehyde Resin as well?

    Thank you for blogging! :)

    • Hi Guro, this really depends. If a company is claiming to be “free” of phalates and formaldedyde, it should be free from all forms of them. I would recommend emailing Korres and asking. It would be misleading if they included these ingredients! xx

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