How To Make A Pedicure Last A Grueling Summer In The City, Straight From Experts At J Sisters Salon

In the summer, between walking around in flip flops in the city streets and barefoot on hot sand, your feet go through hell, and it is really difficult to figure out how to make a pedicure last. It happens to be terribly inconvenient that your toes are on display literally all the time in summer, especially because after a night out dancing in open-toe wedges, they are bound to look disgusting. Whenther it's summer or not, it's always incredibly important to take care of your feet with regular pedicures, especially in the summer months. When you're low on cash and/or time, making your pedicure last for weeks and weeks is a good plan of action to say the very least. That's where the J Sisters Salon comes in.

The J Sisters (Jocelyn, Jonice, Janea, Joyce, Juracy, Jussara, and Judeseia) opened their New York City midtown salon in 1987 and garnered fast acclaim because of their attention to detail in their nail services. According to Jonice, the salon was also responsible for bringing bikini waxing to the United States. Their pedicures in particular are dedicated especially to callus and cuticle removal, which is what helps them last longer than a normal spa pedicure, and leaves the feet feeling smooth and refreshed. Their pedicures are so well respected, countless NYC podiatrists and "even consultants from the Manolo Blahnik store, send their clients to get their feet restored by the J Sisters," says Jonice.

After hearing about these incredible pedicures for many years, I decided it was time to see for myself what the hype was all about. I spent an afternoon (two and a half hours, to be exact) getting the full treatment from Jonice, and learning what exactly makes these pedicures last so long.

1. Get The Feet Nice And Soft Before The Pedicure Even Starts

Immediately upon my arrival at the J Sisters salon, I was escorted into the manicure area and my feet were put into a portable, vibrating bowl of water. After a few minutes, my old polish was removed, a cuticle softening gel was applied to my nails, and I was left to soak for another 10 minutes. The point of this is to get my feet nice and soft (both the nails and the skin) to make scraping off all the dead, gross stuff more effective. What can I say? Beauty is pain. Or something like that.

2. Scrape The Hell Out Of The Bottoms Of Your Feet

After my feet were good and pruny, out came a terrifying looking razor blade — intended for scraping all of the dead skin off of the bottoms of my feet.

"A lot of people say not to use a blade on the bottoms of feet," says Jonice, "but it's easier to maintain when you do it this way."

The amount of dirt, skin, and who knows whatever else was appalling (I decided against sharing a picture for the sake of the Internet), but Jonice promised that when I came back it wouldn't be so bad. "This is only because it's the first time,” she assured me.

Before she applied my polish, she went over my feet (from top to bottom) with a pumice stone to make sure they were extra smooth. Something else I learned? Apparently, the balls of your feet get so many calluses because they are the most sensitive, not because they’re the toughest, as many people believe.

3. Focus On The Cuticles

When Jonice and the rest of the J Sisters started in the '80s, their method of cuticle cutting was something unfamiliar to American manicurists. Unlike in a normal pedicure, where the cuticles are cut with a pair of clippers, Jonice pushes them down with a small triangular blade, and clips whatever is leftover for maintenance.

“Cuticles are like hair," Jonice told me "they grow differently on every person," and therefore need to be scraped to be removed effectively. Through this method, Jonice is able to smooth surface of the nail while maintaining it’s natural shape.

Admittedly, this was something I'd never experienced before. Because of this, the process did hurt a bit, and I can still feel some of the effects a day later. However, my toenails have never looked smoother or appeared to have more surface area to hold polish, and both of these factors make this pedicure look better than mine usually do.

4. Choose The Right Product

The J Sisters have their own line of polish, but also offer colors from the most high-end beauty companies — Gucci, Saint Laurent Paris, and Dolce & Gabbana, to name a few. Jonice never uses gel in her treatments, partly because of the damage she has seen it cause to her clients’ nails, but also because she doesn’t believe it to be necessary with the proper pedicure. If the cuticles are pushed all the way back, it smooths the nail and provides an even surface area for polish application.

For my pedicure, I chose a purple shade by Vinylux, which the bottle promised would last for seven days, and Jonice claimed would last at least 15 with her high-end treatment. She used an Essie base with a Vinylux topcoat that also boasted week-long protection.

5. Apply The Polish Correctly

Instead of delicately applying the polish stroke by vertical stroke to my nails, Jonice’s colleague rubbed polish all over my nails and then, as it dried, she removed it with a cotton swab dipped in acetone.

“This helps us get it in all of the corners of the nails,” Jonice informed me “and it makes the polish dry faster and more evenly.” Evenly applied polish is the most important aspect of getting nails to dry quickly and stay in tact.

6. Work To Maintain The Pedicure After The Fact

I was so, so happy with the finished product. The color dried beautifully and my feet felt amazing. While Jonice made me promise I would be back in a month (and swore up and down that cuticle cutting wouldn’t hurt as badly the next time I was in her hands) she gave me a few pointers as to how to make my pedicure stay fresh between visits.

“Rub lotion on your feet tonight — on the nails, underneath, between your toes. Cetaphil works best,” Jonice says.

She also recommended investing in a pumice stone of my own to use after I shower, and regularly moisturizing my feet. If I want to change my polish color, or feel like I need a fix up (which she assured me, I wouldn’t) before the month is up, she gave me permission to get a regular pedicure somewhere else.

To test how great the pedicure really was, I walked the 60 (yes, 60) blocks back to my apartment from the salon (in those shoes, nonetheless), and when I got home my feet still felt soft and amazing, and the polish was still shiny and unchipped. Magic? Maybe not completely. But totally fabulous? Absolutely.

Images: Zoe Weiner (6)