Have you ever spent the time and money to get your toenails done and left the salon stoked about your perfect polish, only to get home and discover that your flawless feet are, well… already flawed? Chips happen, especially in the summer when you’re spending so much time out and about (which is probably why you want to show off your toes in the first place). So the next time you get your nails done, save yourself the time and money and follow our tips for keeping your pedicure fresh this summer.
Take it slow
Did you know that it can take nail polish 12-24 hours to fully dry? We’re not suggesting that you stay at the salon reading back issues of Vogue all day long, but do avoid the temptation to dash out the door and ruin your new nails in the process. Pedicures are all about pampering yourself, so why not take your relaxation to the max? Instead of squeezing your pedicure appointment in between two other things on your to-do list, get your nails done on a day when you can really put your feet up afterward.
Keep your cool and be a bathing beauty (but not literally)
During that 12-hour window, heat will reverse the polish hardening process—so avoid showering, hot tubs, saunas and hot yoga class. Another pedicure danger zone? The pool. We know you want to show off your pretty pedi, but the combination of chlorine, which weakens the polish, and the risk of accidentally scraping your toes against the concrete bottom means that a fresh pedicure and swimming don’t mix.
Go bare (footed)
If you forget to bring your own open-toed shoes to your nail appointment, do wear those disposable foam flip-flops they give you. In the name of perfect nails, we give you permission to look like a dork.
It’s fairly standard practice for nail salons to add thinners to their bottles of polish to stretch the shelf life and revive old, congealed polish. But thinners can weaken the strength of the polish and make your pedicure more brittle, so don’t be afraid to request a fresh bottle of nail polish from the manicurist. Better yet, play it safe and bring your own—that way, you can easily touch up any chipping at home. If you do use the salon’s polish, purchase a matching bottle for easy at-home fixes.
Top it off
The average topcoat starts to wear off after about 48 hours. Reapply a clear topcoat every other day, making sure you apply an extra swipe across the tip of the nail where it breaks more easily.
Are you gellin’?
If you splurge on a gel pedicure, you can forget all of the above. Gel nail polish is cured using a U.V. light, so it’s totally hardened before you leave the salon—plus it will stay chip-free for about three weeks.
Pamper your skin
Of course, getting a pedicure is not just about the polish—let’s not forget about the soaking, scraping, trimming and buffing that makes us say, “Ahh,” and rub our baby-soft feet together. But unless you maintain your skin at home, you’ll be back to Hobbit-foot territory in about a week. So use a pumice stone regularly in the shower to remove dead skin, apply lotion right after bathing so that the emollient can seal in moisture, and rub cuticle oil into your cuticles and across the tops of your nails 1-2 times per day to keep up that healthy glow.
Related: Top Tips for Making Your Manicure Last