The complete guide to putting your best foot forward
There’s nothing worse that getting caught out by the hot weather, grabbing your sandals from the back of the wardrobe and spotting that you haven’t painted your toenails in months. Or when you get invited to a last minute party, put your favourite little black dress on and your dry, unsightly heels ruin your look. Whether you’re 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.
Pedicure at home: the do’s and don’ts
Do: Invest in some exfoliating socks – they’re a sure fire way of getting rid of dry skin and leaving you with baby soft feet.
Don’t: ‘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.’
Do: Soak feet to soften hard skin. Margaret Dabbs suggests plugging the drain when showering and adding a few drops of foot soak to soften any remaining hard skin.
Don’t: File wet feet as this can damage the delicate skin underneath.
Do: Massage your tootsies. ‘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.’
Pedicure at home: Things to look out for…
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 will also help keep them at bay.
A corn is essentially the same thing as a callous only it is a more localised thickening of the skin that appears as a cone-shaped mass and is most commonly found on the toes. Seek professional assessment as self-treatments with corn pads can damage the surrounding skin and might not clear it up.
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, tight hamstrings and wearing high heels. Treat with a cream that has AHA’s in that will break down the dry skin, like Neostrata Problem Dry Skin Cream. Be 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.
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.
‘This is a painful condition that occurs when the nail starts to press into the fleshy art of the adjacent skin,’ says Emma Supple, a podiatrist. ‘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.
Flick through the below gallery for your complete at-home pedicure kit…
STEP 1: File away dead skin using a foot file. NEVER file wet skin, always do it when feet are dry to avoid weakening the skin in this area. File the balls, heels and sides.
STEP 2: Dunk your feet in warm water and use a scrub to smooth skin and get rid of any remaining flaky bits. Use this time to give your feet a massage - we promise you'll love this bit.
STEP 3: Make sure your feet are completely dry. Damp skin on your feet can lead to problems like Athlete's Foot. Moisturise using a nourishing cream, paying close attention to your heels.
STEP 4: Once you've push your cuticles down, cut your toenails (in short snips, to avoid breakages) and filed into your chosen shape pop a bright cheery colour on. You've put the work in, you might as well show them off.
STEP 5: To keep feet in tip-top condition, wear these socks for 20 minutes twice a week. Your body's heat will activate the release of jojoba oil, olive oil, ceramides, and vitamin E, all of which soften the skin. Yes £39 is quite a bit of money, but you get 50 wears out these bad boys.