The Best Summer Pedicure(s)

A post shared by Lisa Carnochan (@amidprivilege) on

I have never cared for painted fingernails – I’m perhaps a brutal keyboarder but a) polish always chips and b) I’m startled by hand decor.

Pedicures, I endorse. “Ah the feet of summer,”  one might sigh. I didn’t discover the joy of painted toes until my late 30s, but, I haven’t looked back. The only problem being how to ensure you like the color you choose. We’ve all found ourselves in Cement Gray, Day-Old Open Bottle Of Cabernet, or Lavender Dirtied By Woody Lavender Plants, at least once. So I’ve developed a reliable palette; polishes to own and bring along.

Herewith, my favorites.


1. Chick Flick Cherry by O.P.I

Turns out we can’t just extrapolate the colors that suit our face to our feet. Have to go a little bolder. This red is blue-toned enough for my coloring, but sufficiently red for general juiciness.

2. 505 Particulière by Chanel

Who knew that dark lavender-ish taupe would make  a brilliant nail color? Chanel, of course. This isn’t your regular earth tone, it’s sly and subversive and urban. Befriending purple on the down low. Particularly worn with white patent Birkenstocks on suburban streets. If you’ve got warm/yellow-toned skin, you might try #520 Garçonne.

3. Glitter Polishes by Deborah Lippman

Glitter is to be used sparingly but every now and then, from the wine-dark sea, I feel a Charybdian compulsion. I like Lippman’s large-piece glitter because it’s Mediterranean nonchalant. Like some glitter that fell on your toes while you were dancing at 3am in an Ibiza nightclub. Which has never and will never happen to me but pedicures aren’t practical anyway. I’ve got a gold bottle called Boom Boom Pow, sold out except on eBay, but the candy-pink Candy Shop might be fun.

4. Customizing White Polish For Your Skin Tones

See my toes in the photo up top. I don’t know what the nail technician used here, but I love the effect so I’m going to have to experiment going forward. I had at first chosen a white that was way too transparent for what I wanted. The technician magicked two polishes out of her secret drawer, chalk white for the first coat, transparent pinkish-white for the second, and went to work. Perfect.

You might start with Arctic Snow, by O.P.I. Apparently it’s very bright and opaque, which is what you want. Then use a very sheer almost-white polish. That way you can get the right pink, coral, blue, or lavender tint for your skin.

I have also worn fuchsia in past years but failed to note the shade. A new brand, perhaps, in a color called Regents Park? (Spear thinks NailKale makes a good base coat BTW). Also one year I tried orange, for my Princeton Reunion, but such insanity is best reserved (if you’re blue-toned) for parades of alumni dressed in costumes involving enormous tigers.

One final note about ingredient concerns. O.P.I, Chanel and Lippman have removed DBP and toluene from their formulations, Lippman has gone even further and taken out resin and camphor. Worry-free sandal time a-gogo.

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  • It is lovely to admire one’s own impeccable pedicure,isn’t it?
    I love all those colours,each of them is beautiful in a different way!
    Your white colour is so nice-I didn’t have white pedicure for a very long time
    I wear CND Tropic right now-next one would be Lobster

    7:37 am
    Lisa said...

    @dottoressa, Thank you for the recommendations – Tropic looks like a nice vivid coral!

  • I can’t see my way clear to polish my fingernails either (although it was something I did regularly as a young person). Too much trouble and it doesn’t last. I guess my hands are too hard working for such frivolity! Hahaha. Or maybe it’s that I don’t want to be bothered. At any rate, I do do my toenails during sandal season. Somehow, unpolished toenails seem naked if exposed (to me). I guess I’m rather silly. Love, love, love the first two colors you show. I don’t think I’m brave enough for the gold sparkles, though, and the white is a little too stark for me (but it looks great on you!).

    7:38 am
    Lisa said...

    @Jeannine, Not silly at all, unless all of fashion and style is silly:).

  • I need a pedicure!
    I may be the only woman at the Yoga studio without polished toes…and they do make me feel confident when I wear sandals and flip flops or even when I look at my feet while in downward dog!
    Good to hear that OPI has safer ingredients…that makes it much easier using their polish.
    Nice colour options!

    7:40 am
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, And now we are White Toenail Twins! Thank you for your linked blog post:).

  • Lisa, Love this post. I’m obsessed with pretty toenails. Love that white. It looks so fresh and clean. Always love Chanel colors and they last a very long time, so I think they are worth the money. I’m glad to know these brands have taken out some bad chemicals.

    More women need to learn to do their own toes. I love pedicures, but people need to maintain between and some people do not. Much prettier to have clean groomed feet than have painted yucky nails which I see often.

    7:43 am
    Lisa said...

    @kim, Thank you! And Chanel has added ingredients that are actually good for toenails, so, more value in the luxury than ever. And I agree, I prefer naked toes to what the young women might call “janky” polished ones. Although, gardening will wreak havoc…

  • Thank you for the inspiration Lisa…
    I now have pretty toes…and I linked to your blog post.

  • Unkempt feet on display are my pet hate! Coral or orange polish seems to suit the skin tone of my feet. Sally Hanson Salon Manicure polish in a translucent shade lasts well on my hands and doesn’t show chips. Bonus!

  • I spluttered my coffee when I read your description of Lavender Dirtied because that’s what I have on my toes at the moment – it was an *oh dear* moment for sure! I have kept it because I’m thrilled to have new summer toes. I will be sure not to do it again. Oh, part of what I love about your posts is knowing that I’m not the only one.. and being delighted in this small thing.

  • I get pedicures but rarely polish. I get my buffed, I like the naked look for me.

  • I like bright pink on my toes. I’m partial to Zoya, chemical free brand, color Kitridge which is such a bright pink you can see it across the room.

  • I do my own toes and avoid glitter and blue because it’s really hard to remove.

    The arrival of summer is a good excuse to take a look at the feet of your elderly relatives. My sister ended up making living decisions for our Auntie and the state of her feet and nails when sister took over was disgusting.

  • I’ve got coral toes at the moment – but I really need to re-do them as I got impatient and put on slippers too early, smudging.

  • Manicures are wasted on me as I have an uncanny ability to ruin it before I’ve even left the salon! As for pedicures, while I love having my feet massaged, I dislike anyone messing with my cuticles or trimming my nails – I have a fear of the technician cutting away too much. Now, what to do with that gift certificate from my SIL.

  • Loved your apt descriptions on experiments gone bad. I tried an aqua and I swear I looked like a chrysler automobile. Aqua gone! Now into opaque so I must try your white combo.

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