Use a buffing block to smooth each nail surface and remove yellow stains. Start with the gritty side, then switch to the smooth side, which gives a high shine―not as shiny as polish, but close enough in a pinch. You can also use the gritty side to soften skin at the tips of your toes, says John Gerardo, a nail technician at Spoiled A Day Spa, in Studio City, California. RSpick: Deborah Lippmann Smooth Operator Buffer File, $12, sephora.com.
1:30 to 2:00: Moisturize
When feet are hydrated and free from dry patches, they automatically look well-groomed. Massage a rich foot cream into your skin, paying close attention to the driest areas, including the backs of the heels and around the cuticles.
2 of 3Ericka McConnell
If You Have 5 Minutes...
0:00 to 2:00: Scrub
Dip feet into a tub of warm water and pat dry. Massage a handful of a scrub onto the skin. Choose an oil-based product, which will moisturize as it exfoliates dead, dry cells. RSpick: SeaRx Microdermabrasion Face and Body Scrub, $28, birchbox.com.
2:00 to 3:00: File
“Quickly file nails straight across to even out their shape,” says Ann Moore, a nail technician at the Camelback Inn, in Scottsdale, Arizona.
3:00 to 5:00: Polish
Wipe off any oil left on the nails from the foot scrub with polish remover. Then apply a quick-drying topcoat to make nails look shiny. RSpick: Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat, $8, drugstore.com.
3 of 3Ericka McConnell
If You Have 35 Minutes...
0:00 to 3:00: Soak
Soften skin by soaking feet in warm water. Add a handful of salts to help soothe tired feet. RSpick: Eden & Farrow Tea Tree foot soak, $14, amazon.com.
3:00 to 6:00: Exfoliate
Pat your feet dry, then slough off dead skin cells with a dry foot file, says Sarah Chambers, a nail technician at Brownes Beauty Lounge, in Miami. Choose a file with a medium grit. RSpick: Tweezerman Spa Callus Smoother, $20, amazon.com.
6:00 to 10:00: Trim and File
Trim nails straight across using a straight-edge clipper. Use three cuts on each nail, as clipping the whole nail at once can cut it too close to the skin. Smooth the edges with a fine-grit emery board.
Clean leftover cream from nails with a cotton pad soaked in polish remover. Apply a base coat, two coats of nail color, and a topcoat.
20:00 to 35:00: Dry
Give nails at least 15 minutes to dry before slipping on open-toed shoes (it can take up to two hours for them to dry fully). To speed things up, apply quick-dry drops after the topcoat. RSpick: Nicole by O.P.I. Drying Drops, $9, amazon.com.