You know what I spend a lot of time doing during the summer—well, all year-round, actually?
Tending to my feet!
Not only do regular pedicures need to happen, but for me, keeping rough, dry heels and toes at bay requires constant vigilance.
Because haven't we all been on the subway or whatever, and cringed at the state of someone's cracked, blackened heels—or worse, long, dirty toenails?
I never, EVER want to be that person. Well-cared for feet are a public service, really.
So what do you need to make your feet look (and feel) great?
I feel like I've tried just about everything when it comes to foot care, so today I'm going to share with you the things that work for me:
Here's the lowdown on each!
1. Use a Serious Foot File
I do mean a "serious" one, because most foot files are crap. At best, they'll just smooth out the surface temporarily, but won't do anything to actually remove dead skin.
If you have a callus build-up problem, then what you need is the Microplane Foot File. Once you try it, all other foot files will seem like a joke. It's akin to a cheese grater (gross I know), and safely grates away the dead skin—unlike a blade, where you could really hurt yourself. I have never seen such dramatic results, and for that reason I'll own one of these for life. They're comfortable to use and last for ages without dulling. Just make sure you do it on dry skin!
2. Buff Away Rough Patches
After I Microplane (yes, using that as a verb), I'll use one of these electronic gadgets as an optional final buffing step. They're not going to make too much of a difference on bad calluses, but are really good for all-over smoothing and perfecting. I also find if you rely on them to remove a lot of dead skin, you go through the rollers way too quickly, and they're not cheap!
The Micro-Pedi was the original electronic foot file, and the one I first fell in love with. But there's also the Amopé Pedi Perfect Electronic Foot File I wrote about here, and now the Dr. Scholl's Express Pedi Foot Smoother, above. I think they all work about the same, although you should definitely get the Micro-Pedi Man with the Xtreme Coarse Rollers if you want the most intensive buffing.
3. Dissolve Dead Skin With Acid
We swear by acids on our faces, so why not share the exfoliation love with our feet? Adding a chemical peel to your foot care routine is another smart way to keep dry skin away, and without as much manual labour as buffing!
Clarisonic's Pedi-Boost was the only thing in the Clarisonic Pedi Foot Transformation Set (reviewed here) that I really liked. It's a clear serum that contains lactic and glycolic acids, and you just apply a nickel-sized amount to each clean, dry foot. Let it sink in for about five minutes before you add a cream. They say to use it twice a week, but I've not had problems applying it more often.
4. Use An AHA-Based Foot Cream
If you're more of a two-in-one girl, you can get the best of both worlds—exfoliation and moisture—in an AHA-based foot cream. Forget wimpy foot creams that don't do anything! You want one that contains some type of acid (I think lactic is the most common) and urea, which is an amazing ingredient for repairing and hydrating dry, cracked feet. Way too many foot creams contain petrolatum or mineral oil, which I think just masks the problem (you can read my thoughts on petroleum-based products over here).
I was on a hunt earlier this year for a foot cream that ticked off all those boxes, and the only one I found was Atrac-Tain Cream, above, which contains 10 percent urea, four percent lactic acid, and NO petroleum. Surprisingly, it's not that greasy or heavy; I really like it.
More recently, I discovered another option, the Polysporin Cracked Heel Cream, above. They don't say what percentage of lactic acid and urea is in here (so I suspect it's lower), but it's still a good choice—and no petrolatum in here either.
Where to buy: Drugstores
5. Soften Skin with a Foot Mask
Nope, I'm not going to recommend those Baby Foot-type exfoliating socks like Footner (which I reviewed here). Because the shedding process from those is so dramatic, and frankly gross, they are best saved for wintertime when you don't have to wear sandals.
Instead, a wonderful quick fix is to just don a pair of moisturizing socks like the Feet Treat Pedi by Look Beauty. Think of them like a deep conditioning mask for your feet! You only have to wear them for 30 minutes, and they're a great solution in between pedicures when you just need something to make your feet look nicer. (Note: they do contain petrolatum though.)
6. Nourish Your Cuticles
Toe cuticles need TLC, too! Don't cut 'em (that can leave you vulnerable to infections), just slather them with a rich cuticle cream before bed.
The one that works the best for me is the classic Dior Crème Abricot—which is more of a salve than a cream, to be fair. A pretty coral colour, it is very thick and slightly sticky, and tiny bit goes a looong way, so it lasts you forever. I wish it didn't contain the paraffin, but the first ingredient is lanolin.
7. Soothe Sore Feet
Schlepping around the city, I've been known to shun heels because I just know the future pain at the end of the day won't be worth it. But even in flats, feet can get annoyingly sore if you're standing or walking around all day long.
Enter the celeb-approved Sole Serum, which is a blend of natural ingredients and the local anesthetic lidocaine. It goes on clear, just two or three pumps per foot, and dries in one minute without any slip or greasy feel. And no more pain! Seriously, the relief is immediate—so I feel like this stuff should be in every woman's foot care stash. Now we know how celebs who wear heels all the time do it!
8. Carry Blister Patches
Blisters are the worst—and an inevitable part of summer. Whether you get one from breaking in a new pair of shoes, or just from too much sweaty friction while you walk around, it's a mega-painful interruption to your day.
I suggest tucking a couple of Polysporin's Blister Cushions into your handbag for emergencies. They not only create a barrier against further friction on the blister, but also protect it from dirt and bacteria. Plus, wearing one will speed up healing by absorbing moisture. Leave it in place over the blister for a few days, until the edges start to detach.
Where to buy: Drugstores
9. Choose a Pretty Polish
The final look-pretty step in any foot care regimen is polish, of course! Two brands with brushes I love, and formulas that stand up to the wear and tear on your toes, are Sally Hansen Miracle Gel (which was recently reformulated) and Dior Vernis Gel Shine.
My colour pick in Sally Hansen Miracle Gel is 610 Cream of the Crop, which should be hitting stores starting this month. I am obsessed! (You can see it on my nails here.) I love it because it's the perfect pearly nude, not too pink, and gives a fresh, clean look to your toes. Great with a tan!
Where to buy: Drugstores
If I do a colour on my toes, I will almost always choose a bright coral. What can I say? It's universally flattering in lipstick and in nail polish—and then you will always match both pinks and reds in your outfit or on your fingernails. My current fave is Dior Vernis Gel Shine in 899 Corail.
Where to buy: Nordstrom
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Have Your Say
Have you tried any of my favourite foot care products? What do you swear by for keeping your feet in sandal shape?