It’s easy to take our feet for granted. They’re just there, putting up with a host of challenges, from being jammed into high heels and elevated to unnatural heights to smothering inside sweaty socks or tight nylon pantyhose.
While suffering those indignities, our feet take hundreds of tons of force impact just during an average day of walking. That pounding explains why feet are the body part most likely to get injured.
You don’t need an expensive spa treatment to take care of your feet. Spending just a few minutes a day on foot care and choosing the right shoes can keep you free of problems that may lead to pain and even disability. These ideas can help your feet feel great:
Soak your feet - Don’t cheat yourself out of a foot soak just because you’re doing your pedicure at home. This step cleans your feet, makes you feel amazing and softens dead skin cells in preparation for exfoliation. As you let a tub fill with warm water, remove all traces of old polish. Add to the water a teaspoon of tea tree oil (to banish stinky bacteria), a capful of witch hazel (to cleanse and tone), a half cup of Epsom salts (to rejuvenate) and three drops of peppermint or rosemary oil (to heal and freshen). Soak your feet for 5 to 10 minutes. Short on time? Toss in a mix, such as The Body Shop Peppermint Foot Fizzies or Avon Foot Works Double Action Foot Soak.
Scrub off dead skin - To slough off rough spots, look for exfoliants with medium-sized grains, like sugar or salt crystals (sugar is less irritating to your skin) and moisturising agents such as jojoba or almond oil. Try Garnier Body Tonic Sugar Scrub or L’Occitane Honey & Lemon Sweet Sugar Scrub. Massage each foot for a minute or two with a 50-cent blob of scrub. Start at your heel and work your way out to your toes and ankles, and then back up to your calves, using tiny circular motions. Rinse off with warm water.
Buff away bumps - It’s time to smooth calluses. Wet a pumice stone or lava rock, like Avon Footworks Pumice Stone and Brush. Coat it with a little body wash, such as Weleda Sea Buckthorn Creamy Body Wash. If you’re in a hurry, try a 3-in-1 such as Crabtree & Evelyn’s La Source Foot Smoother. The pumice, shea butter and sea algae cleanse, exfoliate and moisturise. Using a back-and-forth motion, lightly scrape your heels, the bottoms of your feet and your toes. The key is to be gentle – you want to abrade only the very top layer of skin, not rub your flesh raw. And don’t even think about attacking calluses with a razor blade. The results won’t be pretty.
Trim and file - Use a strong toenail clipper like Manicare Toenail Clippers to trim nails straight across, then smooth edges with a nail file – try a glass file like the Essie Crystal file; the abrasive surface doesn’t wear away, and you can wash and re-use it. A rounded shape helps prevent painful ingrown nails.
Moisturise and massage - Drench your soles with moisturiser. Try Clarins Foot Beauty Treatment Cream; it has shea butter to lock in moisture, arnica to reduce inflammation and Laponite powder, which zaps odour. Using a circular motion, massage a 50-cent dollop over your feet and lower legs. Then, with your index finger knuckle, press gently into the arch of one foot and knead; repeat on the other foot. This mini-massage will relax your feet while boosting circulation, which reduces swelling. For hot and bothered feet, look for soothing ingredients like St John’s wort, or lavender and rosemary in Aveda’s Foot Relief.
Polish - Use a non-acetone remover to get rid of any residue (acetone-based removers can dry out the nail and cuticle). Insert separators between your toes and apply a basecoat with protein, vitamin E or calcium, to strengthen nails and hold polish. Try Cutex 3 in 1 Strengthener. Now for the colour. Starting just above the cuticle, sweep down the centre of your nail towards the tip of your toe. Then colour each side and across the edge of your nail. Add a second coat then a finishing topcoat to seal colour and prevent chipping. When nails are dry, massage in cuticle oil (try Lush Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter) to pump shine and protect against smudges.