How to Keep Your Toenails Looking Fresh

Massage foot cream into your feet, toes and toenails to keep them soft and supple.
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Fingernails, on display every minute of every day, receive plenty of pampering and tender loving care to keep them looking their best. Your toenails, however, are hidden under shoes and socks most of the time and often forgotten -- at least until the arrival of summer sandal season. Set aside a few minutes to baby your toenails and before you know it, your nails will be sandal-ready and as fresh and clean as your fingernails.

Soak your feet in warm water or take a warm bath to soften your skin and toenails. If the skin on your toes is rough or scaly, exfoliate dry patches gently with a pumice stone.

Remove dirt and grime under your toenails with an orange stick or cuticle pusher. Gently push back the toenail cuticles, using a clean stick. Dry your feet and toes thoroughly, including the spaces between your toes.

Clip your toenails straight across, using nail clippers that follow the natural shape of the nail. Smooth the edges with a file or emery board.

Buff your toenails with a nail buffer to create shine and smooth out ridges.

Cover your toenails with a coat of clear polish after every bath or shower to keep the toenails smooth and shiny. Use a polish free of harmful chemicals, such as tuluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate.

Massage vitamin E oil or petroleum jelly thoroughly into the toenails and the cuticles to keep them soft and prevent brittleness.

  • Remove polish with alcohol-free polish remover to avoid drying out the nails.
  • Avoid walking barefoot, especially in public. Bare feet and toes become dull and dry, and dirt gathers under the toenails.

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.