Do You Have to Paint Your Toenails to Wear Sandals?

You can wear sandals with or without nail polish, but it’s worth considering whether you really need to paint your toenails in the first place.

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Let’s get one thing out of the way: It is not taboo to wear sandals without a pedicure. In fact, it’s shockingly common. Some surveys have shown that as many as 85 percent of women wear their sandals barefoot or with just a coat of clear polish on their toenails.

And if you’re one of those people who doesn’t see the point in polishing your toes, here are some things you may not know about toenail polish and whether or not you should or you can wear sandals without having your toes glammed up…

Do You Have to Paint Your Toenails to Wear Sandals?

No, you do not have to wear nail polish to wear sandals. What you do is entirely up to you. But is it socially acceptable to walk around with unpainted nails and sandals?

It primarily comes down to appearance. Having clean and pedicured toenails show that you look after yourself and care for your appearance. Choosing not to wear nail polish is not a big deal, but it’s best to keep your nails trimmed and maintained.

  • Painted nails are similar to make-up; they aren’t necessary, but they can boost confidence and allow you to feel good about yourself. If painting your nails makes you feel good, do it, but if it’s a real chore, give it a miss and embrace your natural nails.
  • You might not even realize it, but your toenails are full of living tissue that can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays. Just like we use sunscreen on other parts of our body, we also need to protect our toes from prolonged exposure to the sun’s damaging rays.
  • Nail polish offers an extra layer of protection — one that goes on right after you step out of the shower and before you put on your sandals for the day.
  • A pedicure with polish can also give you the confidence boost you need to be able to wear sandals without worrying about what other people might think.
  • Toenail polish is one of the easiest ways to give yourself a makeover for any season. It makes your feet look elegant and stylish. If you have never worn nail polish before, it can be hard to decide on just the right color for your toes. A good place to start is by choosing an opaque color that matches well with most of your clothing choices.

In order to choose the right color, think about what clothes you will be wearing most often while wearing sandals during this season. For example, if you want to wear sandals with shorts and skirts, consider a light color such as pink or peach with a matching or contrasting top.

If you want to wear sandals in the evenings, try a darker color such as red or dark purple. It will complement many different types of outfits very well.

Is It Taboo to Wear Sandals Without a Pedicure?

It is not taboo to wear sandals without a pedicure. However, it is a good idea to undertake some basic foot care if you are wearing sandals. At the very least make sure your toenails are trimmed. It’s also a good idea to give your heels a good brush so they don’t look dirty.

If you are quite active, maybe running around at the beach a lot, you may also not see the point of getting a pedicure. The nail polish may not last that long and then you’ve wasted your hard-earned money.

Can I Get a Pedicure Without Nail Polish?

At many beauty salons, you can request a pedicure without nail polish. This is often referred to as a ‘naked’ pedicure. During a pedicure without nail polish, you will still receive many wonderful treatments for your feet.

The beautician will probably cut, shape, and buff your toenails. Although you won’t be using nail polish, the outer surface of the nail can be polished so that it still appears shiny, almost as if you are wearing a clear coat of gloss polish. Pedicures often include treatment for the entire foot, not just your toenails.

How Can I Make My Feet Look Nice Without Nail Polish?

You can make your feet look nice without nail polish, just with a little bit of TLC. Start with trimming your nails, straight across is best for toenails. Always remove any old nail polish as it can cause discoloration to the nail. Buffing the surface of the nail will leave it looking fresh and polished.

Now move on to the rest of the foot. Soak your feet first in warm water. This will make it easier to remove dead skin and any callouses. Finish with a good quality moisturizer, preferably one that is specific for feet.

Is Bare Toenails Actually a Trend?

Yes, bare toenails is actually a trend, and for good reason! At least once a year, beauty and health outlets report on the rise of sporting toenails that are free of clear or colored polish. This comes recommended, especially if you are a heavy user of these polishes.

Toenails need to breathe as they are more absorbent of chemicals than other areas on your body, like your skin. Common, or non-stop, use of polish can also dry out your toenails, making them more susceptible to bacteria and fungal issues.

In addition to removing, or going without, polish, the quality of your toenails can be improved by household and/or beauty products such as coconut oil and Vitamin E.

Why You Should Wear Sandals Without Nail Polish

In the past, wearing open-toed shoes without nail polish was a bit taboo. Nail polish was worn as an accessory on its own and often over bare nails. Nowadays, that has changed a little bit because of the popularity of pedicures. Nail salons are offering more services such as pedicures that include nail painting as well as callus removal and foot massages.

These services are not only meant to make your feet look nice but they are also meant to make them feel nice. There are plenty of other reasons why you might want to get a pedicure aside from making your feet look nice.

Having a professional paint your nails gives you an opportunity to relax, which is something that many people don’t do enough nowadays, especially with how busy everyone’s lives are these days. Pedicures can be quite expensive though so if you’re not sure how often you’ll go for one, then it might be best for you to just stick with wearing sandals without nail polish.


In summary, you’ve just spent the last hour working on your hair and make-up and you want to wear something that matches, but your toes are naked and it’s all wrong.

If you’re a woman of a certain age, you may have been taught that you must wear nail polish with any sandals. However, that’s one rule most ladies are happy to break. Here are some reasons why:

  1. It’s hot outside! Even in the dead of summer, we can still get sweaty feet which makes toenail polish difficult or impossible to wear (depending on what it is).
  2. It’s not easy to paint my toes! I’ve actually never managed to get a pedicure without smudging the polish before they dry. And I’ve tried many times! If a professional can’t do it, how am I supposed to?
  3. Nail polish remover smells terrible! And I don’t especially love taking off my makeup with oil-based remover either – it feels greasy and leaves stains on my cotton pads.
  4. There are other options for pretty feet! Polish isn’t the only way to exfoliate, moisturize or keep your feet healthy.

You may also be interested in… Do Black Sandals Go with Everything? and Why Do My Sandals Give Me Blisters?