Photo: Alexandr Dubovitskiy/iStock

Pedicure Don'ts
Don't trim toenails too short—it can cause ingrowns. Using a clipper, cut nails straight across, in line with the edge of your toes. Then file them to your desired length with an emery board (which gives you more control than clippers), says celebrity nail artist Tracylee.

Don't cut your cuticles. Instead, massage cuticle oil or remover onto each nail, and with an orange stick push back the skin on the nail plate, says celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann.

Don't layer on a thick coat of polish. "You might be tempted to cover the nail in a dense coat to get the color to look the way it appears in the bottle," says Lippmann. "But that makes polish more prone to chipping." After the base coat, apply two thin layers of lacquer using three strokes per nail (center, side, side). Make sure to wait one to two minutes between coats so the polish can dry. Seal in color with a topcoat.

Photo: Garry Wade/Getty Images

Pedicure Do's
Do start by soaking your feet. "It softens the layers of dead skin, preparing them for exfoliation," says Jane Andersen, a podiatrist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Do smooth rough spots on the bottom and sides of feet and toes using a pumice stone—and make it a habit. "The key is to exfoliate twice a week after your bath or shower, rather than waiting for calluses to develop," says Andersen.

Do moisturize your feet with a cream or lotion containing lactic acid or urea. Both ingredients improve skin texture and hydration, making them ideal for eliminating calluses.

Do swipe a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol over the surface of your nails to remove any oil or residue before applying the base coat, says Tracylee.

Do apply lacquer starting with the left pinkie toe, working over to the right pinkie toe if you're right-handed, says Tracylee. If you're left-handed, do the opposite. This will prevent your hand from gliding over wet polish.

Do extend the life of your pedicure by reapplying the topcoat once a week and cuticle oil every night. The topcoat protects the color's vibrancy and shine; the cuticle oil hydrates, preventing chips.

Photo: Keith Lathrop

Step It Up
Kick off your pedi with a restorative treatment:

1. Morgan Taylor BareLuxury 4-Step System ($7 for soak, mask, scrub, and butter; for salons)

2. Amopé Pedi Perfect Electronic Foot File ($37; drugstores)

3. AmLactin Foot Cream ($10; drugstores)

Plus, the newest way to play with color: Essie Gel Couture nail polish ($11.50 each;, a spectacularly wide range of 42 shades from orchid and mint to deep teal and navy to vibrant raspberry and vermilion. All with a glossy finish and the staying power of a gel. Give them a hand!