The first decision to be made: Are you willing to go without polish? As in, stripping down those phalanges and letting them be their naked selves. It’s a contentious subject. After all, a glossy pedicure is the epitome of self-care—but a full polish detox does have its benefits. “Years of never not wearing red on my toes wrecked my nails, so much so that I imposed a polish ban this past winter while my feet were securely tucked away from public viewing,” says Vogue Beauty Editor Zoe Ruffner, who has since turned the temporary polish ban into a long-term habit. Ruffner has a point: A no-frills, very cool Kate Moss has long stepped out with little or no polish as a chic alternative to a high-maintenance hue.
If you are comfortable with baring all, the trick to going “bald digit” is to meticulously care for your now fully exposed nails themselves. According to nail artist Madeline Poole—who notes that her own “toes have been through the ringer” this past winter—zeroing in on discolouration is key. “Most people I know have similar situations where their nails are yellowing and flaking just from wearing nail polish forever,” she says. After removing any lingering lacquer, “you can get a buffer and gently buff that down.” Another way to remedy unsightly nail stains? Poole recommends whipping up a homemade recipe similar to a tooth-whitening mix. “You can do baking soda and lemon juice and toothpaste,” she says. “It is like a little concoction of that stuff, and you can kind of physically toothbrush your toes.”
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