These Simple Footcare Tips Will Ensure You Step Out With Confidence This Summer
Sandal season is swinging into action, which means it’s time to reinvent the heel
For too long, our tootsies have been stuffed inside shoes or snug inside slippers, but fancier footwear beckons now that the warmer weather is upon us.
But if the thought of slipping your slabs into something strappy is making your palms sweaty, you’re not alone.
Viva commercial editor Emma Gleason summarised it perfectly when she said: “I feel ashamed when anyone admires my shoes, hoping they don’t notice my dry, cracked heels.”
There are few areas of the body more neglected than our feet, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a little TLC.
According to Sarah Saadat, head podiatrist at Auckland Podiatry Clinic, some of the most common cosmetic issues she treats in the lead up to summer include thickened, ingrown or involuted toenails, corns, callouses, bunions and cracked heels, not to mention fungal issues.
These cosmetic annoyances can be symptoms of an underlying medical condition, so be sure to seek advice from a podiatrist if you think you may fall into that camp.
Not quite as lengthy as a 10-step K beauty routine, but sometimes just as arduous, an extensive footcare routine could be the secret to feet that look and feel fresh.
Read on for our expert-approved tips that’ll restore the texture of your feet and have showing off your new season sandals with pride.
Soak & Soften
The notion may seem outdated, but a foot bath is an excellent way to help soften both skin and nails for the steps to follow.
If you were gifted one from your great aunt for Christmas in 2016, now’s the time to bust it out. Otherwise, a large bowl filled with warm water will do the trick. For bonus points, a sprinkle of magnesium-based Epsom salts are said to reduce inflammation and defend against infection.
In 2021, chemical exfoliants aren’t solely reserved for skincare, find them formulated in exfoliating footcare products to address callouses and smooth a build-up of excessive thick skin.
Foot masks are built on a similar premise, with many said harness the buffing powers of AHAs and BHAs to slough away dead skin and exfoliate rough patches.
Viva loves Patchology PoshPeel Pedi Cure which comes twinned with Best Foot Forward Softening Foot & Heel Mask in the brand’s limited-edition Mistletoes Foot Exfoliation & Hydration Kit, $43.
But there can be too much of a good thing, as too much exfoliation or skin removal (we see you, heel shaving) can cause thicker and harder skin to grow back, not to mention the risk of infection from cutting too deeply into skin.
Before you reach for the razor, Sarah recommends the use of a pumice stone, like the Redecker White Pumice Stone, $17, while in the shower to diminish tough or flaking skin. Use it over heels or wherever you get callouses forming, she advises.
The exception to the rule is diabetics, Sarah says, who can be especially prone to infection and should be managed under the watchful eye of their podiatrist.
Lock In Hydration
Penetrating dry, thickened skin is no easy task, so be sure to select a hydrating foot lotion that’s specially formulated to break down rough callouses or cracked skin.
Targeted topical treatments for specific foot conditions can be prescribed by your podiatrist, otherwise look for over-the-counter options which contain rich, moisturising ingredients like shea butter, vitamin E and urea for extra nourishment.
Soothe skin on-the-go with the Dermal Therapy Heel Magic Stick Treatment for Cracked/Dry Feet, $17, which comes in a rollerball format and works its magic in as little as two weeks.
Sarah says the old wives’ tale of applying foot cream to feet at night and wearing socks to bed will help soften them, but to be careful to avoid the space between the toes.
“I wouldn’t apply between the toes due to fungus growth. Between the toes is moist and fungus likes that. Therefore, it is important to dry between toes well using something like a hair dryer on a cool setting,” she explains.
Slather on Officine Universelle Buly 1803 Double Pommade Concrete Hand and Foot Cream, $68, or cult favourite L’Occitane Shea Butter Foot Cream, $57.
With nail bars and salons now open (if you’re Auckland-based) it may seem like there’s no better time than the present to book in for a well-overdue pedicure. But Sarah says its best to exercise caution when it comes to nail spas.
“I would be cautious due to hygiene and have experienced dealing with people who suffer from medical conditions that lead to reduced circulation,” she says, adding they are more prone to nail infections. “Also, if the tools they use are not sterilised, they can spread germs.”
Do your own research and chances are you’ll find most salons do adhere to strict hygiene practices. But, if you still feel uncomfortable, consider taking your own clippers and nail polish for a technician to use on your feet instead.
Wear Appropriate Footwear
Without sounding like your grandmother, it is so important to select the right footwear when trying to restore the texture of your feet.
Immediately struck off Sarah’s list are jandals — the archetypal Kiwi footwear offer no support and little protection from the elements when shlepping from the bach to the beach. If you’re the hiking type, always opt for socks and closed-in sneakers for long walks to provide a protective barrier to avoid abrasions or chafing of the skin.
Ensuring the proper fit is also important, as anything too tight or too loose can injure the skin, or worse, cause infection. If you do wind up with broken skin or blisters, pop on a blister guard or a sticky plaster with an antibacterial ointment to fast track the healing process. Try Patch Aloe Vera For Burns & Blisters 25pk, $10.
STOCKISTS: Dermal Therapy from selected pharmacies or online at Dermaltherapy.co.nz; L’Occitane from L’Occitane boutiques or online at Nz.loccitane.com; Officine Buly and Patchology from Mecca or online at Meccabeauty.co.nz; Patch from Thewastefreehome.co.nz; Redecker from Paper Plane Store or online at Paperplanestore.com.
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