These are the cuticle saviors, heel balms, and rich nail polishes you'll reach for all season.

By Erica Sloan
October 23, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
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In the shuffle of video meetings and holiday prep, beautiful nails and callous-free feet are little victories with big, mood-boosting impact. To give yourself the gift of feeling pulled together, show your nail beds some regular care, soothe and soften dry soles, and swipe on an unseasonably warm polish. Here are our top picks for doing just that—plus pro polish-application advice, so you can walk through fall chip-free.

Credit: Getty / Emilija Randjelovic

For Nourished Cuticles

Martha is happily hands-on during the holidays, whether she's rolling out pie dough, arranging centerpieces, or polishing silverware—and yet, her fingers and cuticle beds stay soft as butter. Her time-tested secret: Deborah Lippmann's Cuticle Lab ($45, sephora.com). This kit contains a cuticle remover that gently loosens dried ends, an oil that prevents splitting, a repair cream with hydrating sodium hyaluronate and shea butter, and a stainless-steel pusher that she takes with her to every manicure. There's no need to pre-soak your hands either; just follow the included step-by-step guide to bring your cuticles back to life.

Because washing hands frequently—something we're all doing more of these days—can cause dryness and make skin more susceptible to cracking, Martha also keeps Deborah Lippmann's Marshmallow Whipped Hand and Cuticle Scrub ($29, sephora.com) within arm's reach at home. It combines exfoliating perlite (a volcanic substance) and both AHAs and BHAs (fruit acids) with soothing marshmallow root extract, glycerin, and coconut oil to clear away dead cells and reveal silkier hands on contact.

For Smooth Feet

To crack down on tough foot calluses, tap a deeply moisturizing salve. Nucifera's The Balm (from $15, credobeauty.com) drenches dryness with an aromatic blend of mango butter and coconut, avocado, and lavender oils. And it's good for far more than feet: You can rub this natural moisturizer onto any flaky or red skin (from head to toe), use it as a conditioning hair mask, or even pat it on as an aftershave or post-sun treatment during the warmer months.

If roughness is what's riling you up, buff it away with Biopelle Exfoliating Heel Cream ($70, dermstore.com). The powerful 30-percent glycolic acid formula dissolves dead cells in 30 minutes, giving feet pedicure-like smoothness at home. Plus, glycerin and amino acids help reduce irritation for baby-soft skin. And for weary soles (that's you, power walkers), massage in Lavido's Thera Intensive Foot Cream ($28, nordstrom.com). It hydrates with almond and jojoba oils, while anti-fungal, anti-microbial tea tree and achillea oils spark a pleasant tingle and help neutralize odors.

For Brilliant Nails

Brisk weather may be fast approaching, but we're basking in nail colors that plunk you in front of a desert sunset—from soft lilac and terra-cotta to twilight purple. These shades have an earthy, vintage feel that makes them easy to pull off, no matter your skin tone, says Sigourney Nunez, North America education manager for OPI: "Color can be a catalyst of inspiration and joy, so if it makes you happy, wear it."

But if a certain color doesn't seem to be calling your name, Nunez suggests considering your skin's undertone and the type of jewelry you wear. For example, if the veins on your wrist appear greenish-olive or you tend to wear gold jewelry, try a warm, chestnut shade like OPI's autumnal My Italian Is a Little Rusty ($10.50, ulta.com) or Have Your Panettone and Eat It Too ($10.50, ulta.com). Deep, dramatic reds like Zoya's Lisa ($10, zoya.com) and Orly's Red Rock ($9.50, orlybeauty.com), and crimson-tinged burgundies like Essie's Swing of Things ($8.27, amazon.com) gorgeously complement these skin tones, too. If, by contrast, the veins on your wrist appear blueish-purple or you tend toward silver jewelry, opt for colors with cool or neutral undertones, like Sundays' mauve No. 26 ($18, amazon.com) or rosy-berry No. 24 ($18, dearsundays.com), or Orly's soft-green Sagebrush ($9.50, orlybeauty.com).

To ensure that your hue lasts, follow this foolproof strategy from New York City nail artist Gina Edwards. First, make sure your hands are clean and your nail beds are fully dry and free from oils. Glide on a base coat, like Orly's Bonder ($8.99, cvs.com), a rubberized formula that helps adhere polish to nails. Then, apply your first layer of polish and let it dry for at least a minute. Brush on another layer, then swipe the edges of the nails to prevent chipping. Finish with a top coat and voila: You and your nails are ready for whatever the season throws at you.

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