Ahhh, summer—that glorious season of sunshine, sunscreen, and sandals. Assuming you’ve embraced open-toed shoes this season, you’ve probably also stepped up your game in the pedicure department. But there’s nothing worse than shelling out for pretty tootsies only to deal with rough heels and chipped polish just days later.
Fortunately, there are ways to fight back against these pedicure problems. Here are four tips for extending the life of your pedicure so you can put your best foot forward long after you leave the salon.
1. From the start.
Give your pedicure the best possible start by avoiding closed-toe shoes and hot water for at least the first 12 hours after polish is applied. Closed-toe shoes can add undo stress to your nails, and hot water can cause the nail to swell and expand, separating it from the polish.
If you must wear closed-toe shoes, wear soft cotton socks or even tights or nylons to provide a buffer between your nails and any abrasions.
2. Prevent flaking polish.
Bending and constant contact are one of the many reasons why your nail polish can start to chip. Fortunately, your toenails generally experience fewer of these crack or chip-inducing events than fingernails, helping the polish to stay smoother longer. But hitting the gym, walking on the beach, and even simply exposing your feet to the elements (a common occurrence in the summer!) can shorten the lifespan of your pedicure.
The key to longer-lasting polish starts at the foundation of your polish. Protect your nails from the elements by using (or ensuring your nail technician uses) a fine grit file to gently rough up the surface of the nail before applying polish. Then use a smoothing base coat to provide a solid start for your color.
3. Stop chips before they happen.
A shiny top coat is the second key to your chip-fighting arsenal. A thin clear coat over your color provides an additional layer of protection and gives your polish the power to flex without cracking.
For on-going protection, reapply a thin layer of clear polish over your toenails every other day. But steer clear of polishes toting “fast-drying” capabilities for the longest-lasting look. These formulas tend to dry before they’ve had the chance to adhere to nails, and they can become brittle and crack much quicker than other topcoats.
4. Keep your skin soft.
If you love how soft and smooth your heels feel after a pedicure but hate how quickly they get roughed up again, keep the smoothness going with these simple tips. First, keep a pedicure file in the shower and use it for about ten seconds on each heel every day. (The perfect activity while you’re letting your conditioner soak in!) Pedicure files are preferable to pumice stones because they are easier to clean and don’t harbor as much bacteria.
For especially rough heels, try soaking your feet in an Epsom salt bath before bed. Dissolve a cup of salt in a bucket of warm water and soak your feet for about 30 minutes. After rinsing your feet, scrub the rough areas with a nail brush or even a clean toothbrush for a few minutes, then apply Vitamin E oil or a specialized foot cream. Wear clean cotton socks to bed to help the Vitamin E oil or lotion soak into the skin for smooth sailing all the next day.