Open toe season is go- here’s how to prepare your hooves at home
Confining feet to sweaty trainer prisons on warm days feels cruel, not to mention uncomfortable, but when unleashing hobbit feet is the alternative, it’s all too tempting to hide dry skin, cracked heels and neglected nails from sight. Give your feet a confident airing with the following tips and foot-taming products.
1. Gadget magic
If you’re a sucker for a whirring beauty tool (inner DIY nerd), the latest crop of whizzy foot files will tickle you in every sense. Scholl Velvet Smooth Electronic Foot File with Marine Minerals , £39.99, steamrolls dead skin by way of micro-abrasive crystals, while Magnitone Well Heeled Express Pedicure System , £24.99, features an ‘extra buff’ roller head to tackle stubborn hard skin. Given that the roller spins at a rate of over 200 rotations per minute (apparently this clocks up to over 300 mph), you can trust that a souped up foot file will likely achieve superior softening results than a handheld file option, and it’s far easier to wield yourself at home.
Just a word on the conditions of effective filing from podiatrist to the stars Margaret Dabbs :
“It is important that feet are always filed when the skin is dry, that is, before you have showered. The reasons for this are quite simple: firstly, a foot that has been bathed masks the areas that need to be treated- you simply cannot see the dry skin or callus in the same way. If a foot is prone to cracks in the skin, bathing will weaken the tissues, making the crack more likely to open up. Finally, a file does not adhere as well to wet skin and so will not be as effective.”
In short, high and dry is your best bet for baby soft feet, and in terms of frequency, Margaret recommends twice weekly filing sessions- any more will likely constitute over-filing and weakening of the skin.
2. Scrubs n socks
If the thought of a foot file makes your skin crawl, there are exfoliating alternatives, but some are equally unpalatable if you’re easily grossed out. I’ve reviewed the Starskin Exfoliating Foot Mask Socks , £8.50, pretty extensively here , and let’s just say that you’ll be shedding hard skin, snake-style, for days after use. Highly effective, also highly horrific if leaving your flaky heels behind you gives you the shivers.
For more traditional dead skin elimination, Frank Body Coffee Scrubs , from £12.95, are designed to wake up your skin akin to an espresso shot, with ground robusta coffee beans and sea salt to slough off flaky bits and the likes of cold pressed sweet almond oil for an injection of vitamin E and moisture. For extra fresh feet, choose the Peppermint Coffee Scrub variety, £13.95, with tingly peppermint oil and soothing aloe vera, and if a bit of spangle gets you going in the morning, sign the petition for the restocking of the sell-out unicorn inspired Shimmer Scrub. Sparkly feet are underrated in our opinion.
3. Must-have moisture
Don’t even think about skipping the lotion. Dabbs is onto you:
“Intensive moisturisation is essential to a superior pedicure, as feet go through the ageing process in exactly the same way as the face. As you age, your skin thins and the subcutaneous fat is lost. Sweat glands reduce in effectiveness, so it is important to re-introduce moisture into the skin of the feet. You would not consider exfoliating the face without following with a face moisturiser, and the same applies to the feet. Do bear in mind that the skin of the feet is 12 times thicker than that of the rest of the body, which is why a body lotion just will not work.”
So if a body lotion is far from ideal, what should you be using? I can hand on heart say that Margaret Dabbs’ Hygiene Cream , £20, has changed my life, as sad as that sounds.
Being formerly plagued with psoriasis and the occasional bout of athlete's foot (TMI), the humble antibacterial hygiene cream keeps everything smooth, non-scaly and sanitary- nothing I’ve tried comes close. If cracked heels are your nemesis, I’ve also found good old Flexitol Heel Balm , £4.99, to be skin-saver. It has a 25% urea based formula to soften broken skin and bind moisture to skin, plus shea butter for no-nonsense hydration. Do wait for it to absorb before scooting off- it everything becomes a bit ‘dancing off ice’ if you approach smooth surfaces too soon. Just a tip-off.
4. Shipshape nails
If you’re still sawing away at nails with those sandpapery emery boards, it’s time to treat yo-self. Get your mitts on a glass nail file and you’ll never look back- the slick, snag-free finish will have you hooked, and in my experience it knocks minutes off a home mani-pedi, plus it’s much healthier in terms of nail preservation. Margaret comes up trumps again with her generously sized file in her range for M&S. The Professional Glass Nail File , £9, may come in at a higher price point than you’d normally pay for a nail staple, but it will last you far longer than the cardboard-like alternatives and will result in less nail breakage too. Also it’s just so satisfying to glide along the nail ridge. I’m a saddo I know, but it’s the little things.
5. Varnish that doesn’t vanish
One of my at-home pedi gripes is that I can never seem to get colour to stick around. Whereas in-salon nail varnish tends to survive for at least a fortnight, home attempts have far less longevity. That is, however, until you polish up your act with a long-lasting bottle of something slightly more special than the gloopy bottle of colour that’s been kicking around for yonks. CND Vinylux Weekly Polish , £10.95, delivers shiny, chip-proof colour for at least seven days, but longer in reality if you’re wearing it on your toes, while our office are big champions of Nailberry ’s glossy, ‘12 free’ (i.e, as non-toxic as it gets) formula. While it’s not specifically designed as a stick-around polish, we’ve found that it lasts longer than its competitors. Starting at £14.50 a bottle, it’s not cheap, but the colour range is bang-on and the environmental, ethical and health credentials are outstanding. Sit back and relax through the dry-time, slip into those sandals and skip into the horizon.