Few things are as sophisticated as a fresh pedicure. It makes you feel pulled together from head-to-toe, literally. But since it only takes one chipped paint job to ruin that feeling, especially during summer sandal season, we’ve compiled our best tips for making your pedi go the extra mile.
We know. Part of the allure of getting your toes done at a salon is the gargantuan rainbow of polish options. But you won’t know how long the bottles have been sitting there—as you know from your own collection, as a polish ages, it chips more easily and doesn’t apply as smoothly. Some salons even add a few drops of acetone or another thinning agent to extend the amount of pigment and get more use out of them (the nerve!). That, too, can spell more chips. So coming armed with your own nail color is always a good idea. Plus, if you get a nick, you can easily fix it at home. If you decide to go with something from the salon’s stock, ask to see the latest releases and collections; that way you know the bottle doesn’t date back to prehistoric times.
When it comes to a long-lasting pedi, patience is a virtue. Polishes marked “fast-drying” may sound like a godsend, but they often dry before fully adhering to nails, and that can cause them to chip more easily. If you’re at home and can’t stomach the standard 20-minute dry time, try dipping freshly-painted toes in a bowl of ice water for 3 to 5 minutes. The cold shock should help the color set faster. You can also spritz your nails with cooking spray—a trick many swear by.
Top coats create a protective barrier to help seal in your nail color—they can chip, too, leaving the polish underneath exposed. For the best protection, use a clear top coat like RGB Top Coat or Seche Vite every other day. For extra protection, coat along the edge of nails, as this is where chips usually happen.
To prevent smudging, for 10 to 12 hours after a pedicure, avoid closed-toed shoes if at all possible. If you’re doing your toes at home and know you’ll be going somewhere soon after, take a cue from the salon: slip on open-toed sandals before you paint (using toe separators helps!). That way you won’t risk nicking wet paint when you go to put on your shoes. If you must go closed-toe, do so with tights or socks—that buffer can go a long way toward preventing friction that leads to chipping and flaking. Another post-pedi salon trick for extra protection? Apply a bit of cuticle oil over freshly painted nails, then wrap your toes with plastic wrap before putting on your tights/socks and shoes. (This is a common practice in spas, so they should have a roll on hand.) Your feet might sweat a little, but it’ll help keep your color intact!
Cuticle oil keeps both the skin around the nails and the nails themselves hydrated and healthy. Because polish doesn’t adhere well to brittle, dried-out nails, keeping them well-moisturized means less chipping. Before heading to the salon or painting at home, apply an all-natural cuticle oil like RGB; doing so after a warm (not hot) shower, when skin is most absorbent, is even better. To keep toes looking their best, massage in a little oil daily.