Summer is right around the corner, which means it’s time to officially break out cute dresses, breezy shorts, and open-toe shoes. But if the thought of squeezing your dry feet with chipped nail polish into a pair of sandals terrifies you, no need to fret. We’ve got you covered on how to take care of that.
After a long winter of wearing thick socks and boots, your feet are probably in need of some TLC. Where does one begin? Yahoo Beauty asked board-certified New York City dermatologist Dana Stern and celebrity manicurist and As U Wish Nail Spa owner Skyy Hadley for need-to-know tips to help you get your feet ready just in time for summer.
Remove dirt underneath your toenails with a soft-bristled brush.
When giving yourself an at-home pedicure, there are certain things to know beforehand, like the correct way to clean underneath toenails and how to properly cut them. “If the nails are kept short there is very little need to actually clean under the nail plate,” says Stern. “If there is dirt and debris, gently clean with a tool that is not going to pierce the nail bed and not cause lifting of the nail plate.”
Remember: Toenails should always be cut straight across and not on a curve to prevent the development of onychocryptosis (ingrown nails), according to Stern.
Cutting your cuticles poses a real threat to your health, so just push them back.
What is one to do about those pesky cuticles that keep popping up? “Trimming or cutting cuticles during a manicure or pedicure is purely cosmetic and doesn’t benefit the nail in any way,” says Hadley.
Unkept cuticles look messy and can take away from your pretty pedicure. However, don’t get tempted to cut them, as the cuticle acts as a barrier to protect the surrounding skin and keep nail infections from developing. Instead, apply a cuticle-softening cream or exfoliating treatment, gently push them back, and use a buffing file to help smooth tough skin.
Got white or yellow toenails? Soak them in peroxide.
Now that you’ve trimmed your toenails, avoided cutting your cuticles, and removed your old toenail polish, you probably notice that your nails are white or slightly yellow. Stern says post-polish discoloring is common. Using a mixture of lukewarm water with a nail product that contains glycolic acid or hydrogen peroxide and a soft toothbrush gently scrubs the surface and removes nail discoloration.
Beware of Babyfoot! A skin-softening cream and foot file will work to remove dead skin.
Stern believes the easiest way to treat rough, calloused heels and feet is to use a urea cream and foot file. If you’re considering using a topical peel such as the controversial Babyfoot, the doctor advises to be cautious, especially if you have cuts or openings in the treatment area.
“This peel is not physician-formulated, and so consider doing a patch test on a small area to make sure that you are not allergic or sensitive to any of the ingredients.” After removing the dead skin, Stern says to apply a rich moisturizing cream with ingredients like shea butter or coconut oil.
Tea-tree and peppermint oils will prevent and treat sweaty, smelly feet.
Smooth feet? Yes. Smelly feet? Sadly, yes. During the hot, summer months when feet tend to get sweaty and funky, Stern’s simple advice is to look for creams with ingredients such as tea-tree oil that have antibacterial properties to prevent odor-causing bacteria. She adds, “Essential oils like peppermint oil are soothing to feet and can mask mild foot odor.”
If you thought letting soap suds fall onto your feet in the shower would simply do the trick, you’re wrong. Stern strongly recommends washing feet thoroughly with an antibacterial soap and properly drying in between toes.
A base coat is nonnegotiable when giving yourself a pedicure.
After cleaning up your toes and achieving smooth-as-butter feet, it’s time to make them look pretty with a pedicure. Hadley says to always use a base coat before applying polish. “By using a base coat, you’re adding in a protective layer between your nails and the polish. This will also help to prevent staining and can actually help keep your nails healthier.”
When choosing a color that will complement your skin tone, Hadley suggests using nail polish with white and blue undertones for fair skin, pink undertones for medium skin, and transparent tones for dark skin.
Since we all want to be on trend with this summer’s nail polish colors, we asked Hadley which shades she predicts to be the biggest this season. Her response? Baby blue with pink undertones, as well as all nude colors. Yes, we’re running to go pick up those nail polish colors ASAP!
Diligently follow these expert tips, and trust us, your feet will be your prettiest accessory this summer.
Read more from Yahoo Style & Beauty:
- 5 Summer Nail Colors That Will Make Your Tan Pop
- 9 Secrets to a Salon-Worthy Pedicure at Home
- The Ultimate Summer Sandals Guide