Honestly, who really sees your feet until its time to slip on a pair of open-toe shoes or sandals? Chances are no one, which explains why we pay so little attention to them in the winter. Follow our heel-to-toe guide for fabulous-looking feetand well forgive your neglect. Pressed for time? Simply combine steps to turn this into a one-day treatment. Either way, youll be ready to show off your tootsies long before Memorial Day.
Sunday: Prep for your pedicure
Remove all polish, and leave toenails au naturel for the rest of the week. If nails are discolored, rub them with a lemon wedge for one minute. “Lemons contain oxidizing agents which help brighten nails,” says Robert Cleary, director of product development at the Dashing Diva nail salon in New York. Before bedtime, massage an exfoliating alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) foot cream (we like Revlons Overnight Hand and Foot Repair, $10.99) into feet.
Monday: Come clean
Deep clean your feet in a tub of water with a few drops of tea tree oil (find it at any health-food store or at drugstore.com), says Suzanne Levine, a New York–based podiatrist: “Tea tree oil acts as an antiseptic.” Then rub feet with a washcloth and mild soapand dont overlook the space between your toes, where dirt and lint can linger. Pat feet dry.
Tuesday: Scrub your feet smooth
While in the shower or bath, use an exfoliating scrub (one to try: the self-heating Olay Thermal Pedicure, $8.99) to remove any rough patches your AHA may have left behind. Be sure to work on the ankle area. For extra-rough spotsusually the heels and balls of feetuse a pumice stone or foot file to gently smooth and buff skin.
Wednesday: Tend to your cuticles
For smoother, more even cuticles, apply a remover (we like Sally Hansens Instant Cuticle Remover, $5.95) and then push back the cuticle. “Any hanging skin still left behind can be gently trimmed with cuticle nippers,” says celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann.
Thursday: Moisturize with a mask
Five days into your foot-revitalizing routine, its time for soft and supple skin. Jamie Ahn, owner of the Acqua Beauty Bar and Townhouse spas in New York, recommends treating yourself to this do-it-yourself, 10-minute foot treatment: Mix 4 tablespoons of honey with 2 drops of fresh lemon juice and ¼ cup of sour cream. Sit on the bathtub edge, then spread the mixture on both feet. Relax while honey (a natural humectant) hydrates the skin, and lemon and sour cream (which contain citric and lactic acid, respectively) exfoliate dry patches. Rinse well.
Friday: Trim your toenails
Its easier to clip nailsespecially toenailswhen theyre damp. After showering, clip your nails straight across, then trim the corners of each nail at a 45-degree angle. Remember, your toenails should be no longer than the edge of your toe. Be sure to file the corners into rounded edges to prevent ingrown toenails. Use a scrub brush to clean underneath the nails, and then gently buff them (our favorite buffer is Creative Nail Design Glossing Buffer Block, $5.50) to prepare the nails for polish.
Saturday: Add the finishing touches
Swipe your toenails with polish remover one more time to complete your prep. Apply one layer of a nail base coat (such as OPI Start-to-Finish, $9.95), then brush on two coats of a soft or sheer pink polish. “Dark reds and berries are too harsh for sandal season,” Lippmann says. A perfect application requires just three strokes: one down the middle, then one stroke on either side; repeat. Finish up with a top coat for additional shine and protection.