STYLE
06/05/2012 03:50 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2012

Home Pedicure: How You're Messing Up Your Nail Polish Without Realizing It

Now that the temperatures have passed 68 degrees (well, for most of us throughout the United States), you've probably stepped out in your finest summer sandals. And while a fresh coat of bright nail polish can perk up your toesies and make warm-weather footwear stand out even further, you'll need to put in a bit more work.

To help you get your feet pedicure-perfect this summer, we tapped Candice Betz, director of AWAY Spa at W Austin and Jane Park, CEO and founder of Julep, to share their top tips. And keep scrolling down to shop this season's hottest nail polish shades.

What is a homemade remedy to treat dry, cracked heels and feet?
One DIY treatment anyone can do at home to get smoother feet involves ground coffee and olive oil, says Betz. Mix a half cup of ground coffee with one tablespoon of olive oil into a paste. Add a drop of an essential oil (peppermint works really well). While seated, apply mixture to feet, massaging in circular motions and moving up toward calves. Spend more time massaging heels and ankles. Rinse off, pat dry and slather on moisturizer.

Is it better to moisturize with lotion or oil, and why?
The best way to moisturize feet is with a bit of warm lotion. It takes an extra minute to prepare, but it's so worth the effort, says Betz. Drop about five pumps of lotion (or roughly three tablespoons of body butter or cream) in a microwaveable glass bowl. Cover and heat for five to 10 seconds. Work quickly, as it cools down right away, and enjoy the indulgence. It also relaxes the nervous system as it softens skin and cuticles.

Should you cut or push back cuticles? And how can you tell it's being done correctly?
Cuticles should be pushed back after a cuticle-removing solution is applied. A gentle push is all it takes, just to clean up the nail beds. Betz explains, the nippers that nail techs use afterwards should be used to simply remove what’s been pushed back. Nothing should be cut from the skin. If you find yourself with an overzealous nipper, don’t be afraid to say stop. There’s no reason anything should be cut and pulled from your skin.

What's the trick to successfully and safely trimming toenails?
The key is to cut straight across and on dry nails -- wet nails are more likely to bend and not cut as smoothly. There's no need to clip a toenail in one shot either, Betz advises. Making a few small cuts will ensure an even edge. Then use a nail file to shape as you like.

What is the secret to achieving a long-lasting pedicure?
Apply moisturizer (body lotion, butter or foot cream) daily. According to Betz, wearing flip-flops regularly contributes to dry and dirty feet, which can ruin a pedicure. Cuticles also begin to look dry and nail polish chipping may occur. Applying moisturizer after a shower or bath provides instant hydration and protection from daily damage.

Using nail polish remover, even on clean nails, is key to removing natural oils and a long-lasting pedicure, adds Park. A hydrating lotion with strong exfoliators is also great for keeping feet soft. Use it frequently up to the skin on your knees for an even skin tone. Every three to four days, reapply the top coat to protect your nail color. Keep cuticle oil handy when wearing sandals and out in the sun to keep nails looking fresh and the color shiny. And when getting a pedicure during the summer, be sure to leave plenty of time for the color to set -- at least four to six hours -- before heading to the beach. Humidity in the air means it will take longer for color to dry.

What nail color shades work best with a tan?
Bright colors are always fun for summer and there's been a huge trend in corals and teals, says Park. Colors with white undertones can help enhance the look of a tan because of the drastic contrast. A new trend for the season is wearing lights and brights together, like a bold pedicure with a light manicure. Women with light or pale complexions should lean towards softer tones, but should be cautious with neutrals as they can wash out lighter skin tones.

Meanwhile, find out four ways to keep your feet blister-free.

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