10 Ways to the Perfect Pedicure
Clip nails so they're slightly less than a quarter-inch long, says N.Y.C. manicurist Pattie Yankee. Then take a file and round the sides just a bit (don't use one labeled "coarse" because it can cause tears). Be careful not to go any shorter or you'll be begging for an ingrown.
Perfect Formula Petite Crystal nail file, $10; QVC.
You don't need whirlpool jets to feel pampered: Simply soak feet in a relaxing bath made of one part milk and two parts water. The lactic acid in the dairy product exfoliates and softens cuticles. If your tired soles are really screaming, add a scoop of Epsom salt to reduce swelling.
Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt foot soak, $4; at Wal-Mart.
After a soak, dry feet and rub a drop of moisturizing oil on each nail. Then gently nudge back skin along the perimeter using a metal cuticle pusher (wooden ones can splinter, says Yankee).
Solar Oil, $12; cnd.com for stores.
Pick up a natural lava pumice stone to exfoliate heels and balls of feet. Then massage a body scrub over skin to even out any roughness. To tackle serious calluses, try smoothing them with a motorized file (like Ansr: Sole, $120; ansr.com) when feet are completely dry.
Heel to Toe Natural lava-rock pumice stone, $7; sallybeauty.com.
Butter Up Those Soles
Save regular lotions for dry arms and legs—most are not moisturizing enough for the tough skin on your feet, says N.Y.C. podiatrist Johanna S. Youner. Instead, slather on a thick cream with hydrating shea butter. If you've got parched, cracked heels, you'll need an ointment containing acids (like salicylic or lactic) to break down dead cells, says Dr. Youner, who likes those from Kerasal (at drugstores).
The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Body Butter, $18/6.7 oz.; at the Body Shop.
Wipe nails with cotton pads soaked in rubbing alcohol to ensure that your base adheres. Then slick on a ridge-filling version, like Nail Tek Foundation III ($11; ulta.com) and follow with the first coat of color. Don't worry about it looking exactly right—the second coat will even it out. Need help deciding on a shade? Opt for one of these unexpected hues (left) chosen by L.A. manicurist Jenna Hipp.
Left: Nubar Nail lacquer in Hot Orange, $8; bynubar.com.
Middle: RGB Nail lacquer in Dew, $16; rgbcosmetics.com for stores.
Right: Perfect Formula Perfect Color in Pollen, $14; QVC.
Mix Your Own Tone
Neutral manicures were a cool statement at many spring fashion shows. To give your toes this subtle effect, try a trick Pattie Yankee used backstage: Take a bottle of off-white nail polish and sprinkle in a pinch of loose mineral powder foundation (in the color you would wear on your face). Give the bottle a shake and voila! You've created your own skin-matching nude. It's hands-down genius.
Bare Minerals Original SPF 15 foundation in Golden Tan, $27; bareminerals.com.
Stay Inside the Lines
After painting each toe, clean up any polish that has spread onto the surrounding skin with an angled eye-makeup brush, says Yankee. Just dip it in remover and trace around the nail.
Revlon Double Ended Smokey Eye brush, $6; at drugstores.
Set Your Shade
Once you've polished each foot, put a quick-dry topcoat on every nail, like this Dashing Diva formula, which helps smooth mild nicks, says Yankee. In a hurry to get out the door? Hipp suggests grabbing your blow-dryer and aiming a soft stream of cool air over your toes.
Dashing Diva Top Seal, $14; dashingdiva.com.
Who hasn't tiptoed around in a fresh paint job and accidentally smudged it? If the polish is still wet, just apply another layer of color onto the entire surface, followed by your topcoat. If you spot dents once nails are dry, stroke a sheer, sparkling shade over all 10 of them. Shimmer reflects light and distracts from imperfections, says Hipp. "It'll give the illusion of a brand-new pedi."
Priti NYC Polish in Iced Ginger Rose, $13; pritinyc.com.