How to Make Ugly Toes Look Good

Updated November 7, 2022
Woman massaging her feet

There are some pretty good reasons why you should show your feet some love. Regular foot and toenail care is important for your overall health. For example, if your feet are sore from calluses, corns, or other foot ailments, exercise and even walking becomes painful. But of course, the bonus to pampering your peds is having good-looking toes.

If you feel like you have ugly toes (p.s. you probably don't) and you'd like your feet to feel better throughout the day, you can follow a few tricks to treat your feet at home. These insider tips will help make your toes and your feet look and feel their best.

How to Give Yourself a Basic Pedicure

A basic home pedicure is a great way to relax. It's also a smart way to boost foot health. During a pedicure, you can address any uncomfortable corns or calluses that have developed. Corns are caused by the friction of shoes rubbing the sides of toes. Calluses are caused by walking and not moisturizing the feet. Proper exfoliation during a pedicure will help with both of these issues.

Gather Pedicure Supplies

There are many pedicure products on the market, but finding what will work can be a daunting task. In general, you'll want the following products to give yourself a home pedicure:

  • Callus softener
  • Foot file
  • Foot scrub
  • Foot soak
  • Moisturizer

Pedicure kits can usually supply all of these tools and products in a convenient carrying case. You can also purchase products separately, choosing the scents or the brands that you prefer. On a budget? You don't need specialized products. You can simply use any hand soap for soaking and use your regular hand moisturizer to soften the tough skin.

Follow Step-by-Step Instructions

Following these steps will help you to soften the tough spots on your feet and provide you with a relaxing spa-like experience.

  1. To soften the calluses and corns for removal, first soak the feet for about five minutes.

  2. Lightly towel dry and apply the callus softener. Apply the callus remover to the heel, side of the foot, and toes. Some of these products require you to keep your feet out of the soaking tub while the product works. Others work while the feet soak. It is important to read the directions on the package or bottle to see how to use the callus remover.
  3. Wipe off any excess callus remover before using the foot file. Otherwise, the file will slide over the product and not remove the callus.
  4. Use the coarse side of the file first. The callus will start to roll off the foot. When the callus stops rolling off the foot, use the fine side of the file to finish smoothing. The foot file can also be used to file down any corns at this time. If the corns are still bothersome, use a corn remover product for a couple of days. Be sure not to use a blade of any kind to remove calluses or corns; this can cause injury that could lead to infection.
  5. After filing, rinse the foot and apply the scrub to the top of the foot and up the ankle in circles; be sure to scrub the back of the heel area. Work the product down over the toes and between them. Rinse off the scrub and dry the feet; make sure to dry around the toes well.
  6. Use moisturizing cream or lotion after drying.

If doing a pedicure at home sounds too exhausting or difficult, head to your local nail salon and get pampered!

Finishing Touches for Lovely Toes

For great-looking toes, you may also want to shape and file your toenails, as well as clean up your cuticles and apply polish. There are a few things to consider when dressing up your toes, such as toenail shape and color.

Toenail Shape

There is a debate over which shape the toenail should be - round or square. A good rule of thumb is to shape them according to what feels comfortable. Either way, make sure to cut the corner completely and not leave a little piece that can become an ingrown toenail. File the free edge of the toenail with a fine to medium (180 grit) file.

Cuticle Removal

Cuticle removal is key to getting polish to stay on the toenails. Use a cuticle remover, such as Creative Nail Cuticle Eraser, to soften the cuticle so that it is easily removed with a wooden cuticle stick.

Adding Polish

Adding polish is optional, but a little color goes a long way toward making sure your nails look terrific. After your pedicure, clean your toenail with polish remover to ensure that all oils are cleaned off. This will make the polish last longer.

Before polishing, the toes need to be separated for easier polish application. Toe separators can be used or use a twisted paper towel and weave it between the toes. Apply one clear base coat, two coats of color polish, and finish with a clear top coat. Adding nail art on the toenails is a personal preference. If any kind of nail art is desired, do this before the top coat is applied.

A quick-drying manicure spray or drops can be used to speed up the drying time of the polish. When dry, remove the toe separators or paper towel and show off those pretty piggies.

Special Toe Care Challenges

A number of issues can impact the appearance of your toes and may require additional treatment or care. Certain medications can also affect the appearance of nails.

Yellowing Nails

Yellowing nails can be a sign of toenail fungus, and there's a simple way to tell if you really have a problem. Using a buffing block or a fine grit file, lightly buff the nail. If the yellowing disappears, it was simply a stain from nail polish. In this case, use a base coat under the color.

If the yellowing does not buff off, it may be some form of nail infection or fungus. In this case, you can visit a podiatrist for treatment.

Hair on the Toes

Whether people admit it or not, everyone has hair on their toes. Some women find this embarrassing. This problem can be easily remedied by shaving, waxing, using hair removal cream. Some people even undergo electrolysis or laser hair removal. While these options can be expensive, they offer permanent hair removal. Most women opt for the less expensive shaving or waxing. Hair removal creams can cause chemical burns if your skin is sensitive.

Plantar Warts

Plantar warts are another uncomfortable and potentially unsightly foot condition. Over-the-counter remedies will work if the warts are caught early. However, most are not even noticed until they start causing pain. In this case, a podiatrist (foot doctor) can provide proper treatment.

Athlete's Foot

Athlete's foot is a type of fungal infection that causes red, itchy, scaly skin eruptions on the bottom of the foot and between the toes. Over-the-counter treatments are available for mild athlete's foot. If the infection does not clear up with these or gets worse, a podiatrist can prescribe a more effective treatment.


Cancer can grow anywhere on the skin, and that includes your feet. Melanomas (skin cancer) often affect existing moles, but on the feet, cancer can look different. The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) tells us to watch for these signs:

  • Brown or black vertical line under a toenail
  • Foot injury that shows a growth or spot after healed
  • Growth or spot that is pinkish-red
  • Rapidly growing mass
  • Sore that won't heal, or that heals but comes back

If you are concerned about a spot on your foot, don't hesitate to call your healthcare provider right away. They can refer you to a dermatologist (skin doctor) or podiatrist who can help you find out what's going on.

Take Care of Your Toes

Follow these tips and suggestions to keep your toes looking their best. Not only will this help make sure that you have pretty feet to show off, but it can also help you become aware of the presence of health problems that may require medical attention.

You have a myriad of options to gussy up your toes if you think they are ugly. And you can do most of them in the comfort of your own home. If you're tired of covering your feet with socks and shoes all the time, break out the clippers, files, buffers, and polish and have at it!

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How to Make Ugly Toes Look Good