1. PREP WORK
First things first - pretty toes are hair-free. Depilatories are a faster, longer-lasting, and painless alternative to tweezing or waxing. Next, soften tough heels in a mineral sea salt soak. "In a pinch, liquid dish soap also removes dirt and makes cuticles more pliable," says Ferri. Pat one foot dry - letting the other soak longer - and slough away calluses with an emery board or pumice stone. "Don't use anything more abrasive, like a metal tool," warns Weingarten, "and avoid infection by not exfoliating any blisters, corns, or bunions." Soak the scrubbed foot in a clean bath while working on the other and dab a cotton ball soaked with hydrogen peroxide on any blisters after feet have been washed.
Related: 9 Cool DIY Nail Designs
2. TAKING SHAPE
On dry feet, apply cuticle oil to the base of the nail - Ferri swears by olive oil as a substitute - and push back cuticles with an orangewood stick. "Only cut cuticles [with a cuticle trimmer] if they look like they're about to tear the skin," says Ferri. File away extra length with an emery board, getting nails as short as possible without causing discomfort. Keep the shape of the nail square and only use a clipper if nails are excessively long, as unnecessary cutting can cause brittle nails to split. "Don't round the corners, because this is where the strength of the nail comes from," says Weingarten. "A lot of people get ingrowns from trying to file the sides."
Related: The 10 Best Lip Colors For Summer
3. LACQUERED UP
"Applying cuticle oil to the base of your nails every night will help pedicures last up to two weeks." -Essie Weingarten
From moisturizing to ridge-reducing formulas, "the right basecoat can troubleshoot a lot of nail pigmentation and texture problems," says Weingarten. Apply two coats of your shade of choice before finishing with a topcoat - preferably one with UV filters to prevent fading. Allowing two minutes between each step will ensure a streak-free application and expedite overall drying. To minimize the chance of smudging, apply polish first to the foot opposite your dominant hand, then move to the other. Finally, fix mistakes with a corrector pen or, after the lacquer has dried, by scraping away any excess in the shower.
Related: How to Look Great in Every Photo
4. PERFECT HUE
"When in doubt, choose coral," says Ferri. The blue and yellow undertones complement fair and warm skin alike. "Your fingers and toes don't need to match, but they should be somewhat complementary shades," notes Weingarten. If you opt for a neon purple to play off your Kool-Aid-colored espadrilles, choose a ladylike lavender or neutral mauve for your hands.
More from Marie Claire:
10 Guilt-Free Summer Snacks
5 Secrets of the Highest-Paid Women
Best Celebrity Hairstyles of All Time
9 Signs He's Cheating