It’s never too early to start thinking about your spring sandals game. While it may be 22 degrees outside, the second it hits above 50, you know you’re going to want to be ready to sport those new strappy heels with pride. Thanks to the bitter cold and a daily routine of stuffing our lower extremities into wool socks and boots, our feet are simply not ready to be unveiled just yet. But, our sandals can’t just sit there untouched forever—it’s time to get moving on de-winterizing our toes.
Nail gurus Jin Soon Choi (owner of luxe NYC pedicure destination JINsoon and her namesake nail care line) and Skyy Hadley (celebrity manicurist and owner of NYC’s As U Wish Nail Salon) are here to share expert tips on getting feet worthy to show off. From teeth-whitening strips to the reasons you should never touch a blister, read on for how to get the perfect pedicure at home.
Consider investing in an electronic callus remover
“I am surprised to have found that this is the most effective way to remove calluses,” says Choi. “It doesn’t require a lot of effort and it’s thorough.” The Clarisonic Pedi is a great option, but this kit by Lilian Fache also gets the job done at a quarter of the price. Choi recommends using whatever device you choose on clean, dry skin in order to get the most polished finish possible.
A foot file is another option
“Diamond is best, but metal will work in a pinch,” says Choi, whose own diamond file is relatively inexpensive (and well worth it regardless). She recommends filing before soaking, unless you opt for a callus-removal gel, which can help soak away a majority of dead skin. Be Natural’s gel is very effective—and you can use a file afterward to take care of any areas it might have missed.
Maintain that smoothness with a pumice stone
Choi doesn’t recommend it as an initial solution to stubborn calluses, as it’s not nearly as effective as any of the options mentioned above, but it’s great for keeping roughness at bay after that initial exfoliation. “This can be done daily in a shower,” she says. Just make sure feet are wet first.
To target dry patches, soak and then exfoliate
Calluses aren’t the only rough spots that might show up—the areas around our ankles and heels tend to get very dry and scaly during the winter without proper care. “Exfoliate them with products when the area is dry, but after soaking,” recommends Choi. “You can use exfoliating gloves with an exfoliating agent. And, of course, moisturize the area immediately after.”
Try spa socks
“For truly deep moisturizing, the old-fashioned method works best,” says Choi. “Exfoliate, apply thick cream, and wear cotton socks overnight while you sleep.” Try giving your hands the same treatment.
Un-stain those toenails with ingredients from your medicine cabinet
Toothpaste, whitening strips, and hydrogen peroxide should be your go-tos. “The surest way to un-stain toenails is to saturate cotton in hydrogen peroxide and put it on each toe nail, wait three to five minutes, and scrub it off,” Choi advises. “Another method is to apply whitening toothpaste or whitening strips on your toe nails and let them sit for a while, then scrub them off with a brush and rinse.”
Cracked heels? Leave that to the professionals
Choi highly recommends a paraffin wax treatment for speedy treatment of this particular ailment. And, while there are at-home options, a visit to the salon is probably worth it in this case. Follow by smothering your heels with heavy cream.
Don’t try to “cure” a blister
“Treating blisters is a misnomer,” says Choi. “You can’t treat them; you just have to keep them clean and protected so they don’t get infected, and let nature take its course.” Do so with the help of antiseptic and clean socks, and by keeping shoes off whenever possible to let the injury breathe and to avoid additional aggravation.
Always use a nail primer
“People often forget this step on their toes, but it’s very important!” explains Hadley. “This is a key factor in allowing the color to last as long as possible.” It’s also important to apply a top coat to prevent the polish from tripping. “You only need to apply one coat, but be sure to seal the entire toe by painting to the end of the toenail, as well as going underneath to the edge to seal in the polish,” says Hadley. “This should allow your pedicure to last three to four weeks. She recommends the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat.
Apply cuticle oil every other day
“Keeping your cuticles moisturized will help to create the illusion that your pedicure is brand new!” says Hadley. Since you’re prepping in the winter, keeping them hydrated and healthy is very important.
Hadley suggests adding a bit of luxury to your home pedicure by squeezing a bit of lemon into lotion and massaging it into your feet. “This helps to moisturize, brighten the feet, and give them a nice smell,” says Hadley. “Another good tip is to combine Vaseline with lotion and apply to your heels to prevent cracking.”
Finish with a pair of killer heels and you’re good to go.