Whatever the time of year, unsightly toes are a no-go. Prepare to bare your soles with our SOS guide to putting your best foot forward.
How to do an at-home pedicure: Whether you are jetting off to sunnier climes or thinking ahead to the party season, picture-perfect feet are a must. Don’t let your toes suffer over the winter months, keep them in check with an at-home pedicure and be safe in the knowledge that they are ready for a strappy heel or flip flop at a moment’s notice.
To get you started, we’ve asked the experts for their top tips for making sure your feet are in tip top contition, all year round:
The Perfect Pedi:
1. ‘Never cut hard skin off the feet.’ warns celebrity nail technician Sophy Roberts. ‘You start a damage and repair process so it ends up coming back tougher. Buffing is much less traumatic so invest in a good foot file.’
2. Margaret Dabbs suggests plugging the drain when showering and adding a few drops of foot soak to soften any remaining hard skin. ‘Never file wet feet as this can damage the delicate skin underneath.’
3. ‘The secret to a good pedicure at home is all about the massage,’ says celebrity facialist Nicola Joss. ‘Feet have few sebaceous glands on top and none on the sole which is why the skin is prone to dryness. Give yourself a five minute massage and you will see the difference in the skin tone especially on the top of the foot which is as fine and delicate as the skin on the back of your hand.’
4. A slick of nail varnish is the perfect accessory to your summer wardrobe and can brighten up even the most subdued sandal. Go for Dior’s Vernis nail polish in Carré Bleu, £18.50.
5. Basitien suggests finishing off with a dusting of his Cool Veil Silky Talcum Powder, £26, to fend off bacteria and perspiration and prevent the friction that can lead to inflammation and calluses.
Perfect feet need more care and attention than a once a week pedicure at home. Keep reading to discover the most important factors to the overall health and wellbeing of your feet…
‘High heels force the weight of the body onto the ball of the foot, which can cause a build up of callus and bunions and an increased incidence of corns under the metatarsal,’ warns foot expert Margaret Dabbs. ‘Posture is affected as the body is thrown forward and the spine can become mis-aligned which can lead to a painful back, hip and knees. Repeated high heel wearers are also prone to shortening of the Achilles tendon making walking on flat surfaces without heels painful.’
Top tip: ‘Heels are fine if worn in moderation, but it should be remembered that pain is an indicator that something is wrong!’ says Dabbs. ‘Vary the style of shoe from day to day (platforms or wedges are better than stilettos despite the height of the heel). Gel insoles are also good for reducing pressure on the ball of the foot.’
‘Flat shoes can pose as many risks as high heels.’ says Judith Anders, Scholl podiatrist and foot expert. ‘Wearing completely flat pumps puts the feet at risk from pain as there is no shock absorbency and little support. Another problem can be corms and calluses as pumps are often worn a size too small in order to keep them on the foot.’ Flip-flops don’t fare much better either. ‘Research has shown that flip-flop wearers take shorter steps resulting in a higher risk of joint and muscle pain.’ Added to this, wearing flat shoes can stretch the calf muscles and Achilles tendon especially if used to wearing heels.
Top tip: ‘Most people have a tendency to tilt their feet when wearing flat shoes.’ says TV’s favourite podiatrist Emma Supple. She recommends wearing arch supports such as Orthofits £29. Or, for footwear that gives you the sensation of going barefoot, try Five Fingers shoes, from £69, which are designed to take you back to your natural stance, ensuring that your toes are spread and your posture corrected.
Lumps and bumps
Not the most glamorous subject, but foot faults are a fact of life for Louboutin-lovers and flip-flop fans alike. Here’s how to deal with them:
Calluses: A callus is an area of toughened skin developed in response to repeated contact or pressure and is one of the most common foot problems according to Scholl. Generally pain-free (although they can produce a burning sensation), they can lead to more serious problems such as underlying tissue damage if left unchecked. Prevention is the best cure and wearing shoes that fit properly is the first port of call. Looking after your feet by using softening creams such as Scholl’s Callus & Hard Skin Reducing Cream, £4.49, will also help keep them at bay.
Corns: A corn is essentially the same thing as a callous only it is a more localised thickening of the skin which appears as a cone-shaped mass and is most commonly found on the toes. Emma Supple suggests seeking professional assessment as self-treatments with corn pads can damage the surrounding skin and do not clear up the corn.
Cracked Heels: More of a cosmetic problem than a serious concern, cracked heels often affect people who have naturally dry skin and is exacerbated by lifestyle factors such as standing for long periods of time. Treat with a rich cream or foot oil making sure you buff away any dead skin first to allow the product to penetrate. Victoria Health’s resident pharmacist Shabir Dayar recommends taking a supplement containing Omega 7 to help restore lipid levels key and combat dry skin. Try Cellular Support by Sibu £25.48.
Bunions: Tight fitting shoes are thought to be the cause of bunions in about 90 per cent of patients although they can be inherited. Most people experience them as a bump on the base of the big toe but as they develop the big toe begins to angle in towards the other toes. The solution? Be careful with shoe styles if you know that you are developing one but once developed surgery to realign the metatarsal is usually required.
Ingrowing Toenails: ‘This is a painful condition that occurs when the nail starts to press into the fleshy art of the adjacent skin,’ says Supple. ‘It can easily become infected and needs professional podiatry treatment. ‘Badly cut toenails and ill-fitting shoes are the most common causes – never cut the sides of the nail – always cut straight across using nail clippers making sure to respect the natural shape of the nail.
Reflexologists have long held the belief that feet are integral our wellbeing and yet they are often the most neglected parts of our bodies. Here’s how to treat them to a little TLC:
Foot Flex: ‘After a night of wearing high heels make sure you stretch out your calves to balance out the retraction of the muscle,’ advises celebrity pedicurist Bastien Gonzalez. He recommends stretching each leg for a minute or so whilst brushing your teeth and pulling the toes forward to relieve pressure on the joints. Don’t forget about your feet in the daytime too. Doreen Baker, chief executive for the Association of Reflexologists advises doing some simple stretch exercises whilst at your desk to encourage circulation of blood and lymph systems and to keep ankle joints supple: Circle feet in a smooth, controlled movement five times in either direction followed by five flexing and pointing movements.
Different Strokes: ‘Massage your feet every night giving 20 seconds for each foot to help re-plump the fatty cushion under your feet,’ says Bastien. ‘This will help give them volume and suppleness.’ Apply a rich foot cream and massage your feet up to your knees (or get someone else to do it!) to aid circulation and decrease foot pain. Popping on a pair of socks will ensure the cream penetrates even deeper.