I’m super embarrassed by my feet. Summer means sandal season but I’m worried people are going to spot my dry, cracked heels! I’ve been working at home for nearly a year, and I think wearing nice, soft slippers has caused my feet to get even drier than they were last year. I really need a solid routine to get them summer ready, but I have no idea where to start. Help!
As uncomfortable and annoying as they are, dry feet and cracked heels are far from uncommon. We live in a climate that only really allows us to expose our feet for a few select months of the year, and so it’s easy to neglect that area of the body or to assume that it doesn’t need maintenance in the same way that more exposed areas do. But consider how much we use our feet and the constant friction and pressure we subject them to, and you may be more tempted to make regular maintenance part of your routine. Of course, this year even those who schedule regular pedicures will have been unable to maintain that habit – whether you’ve been working from home or your job has required you to spend even more time on your feet than usual, chances are a lot of people are keen to give their feet some much-needed TLC.
Happily, this is not going to be a process that requires complicated procedures or expensive products. The first thing I’d recommend is a foot peel – my favourite is Oh K’s Green Apple Foot Peel. It’s the beauty equivalent of hitting the ‘reset’ button for your feet – a pair of plastic socks filled with an incredibly potent blend of fruit acids (aka AHAs or glycolic and lactic acids) which work by breaking down the bonds that hold dead, dry skin together. This is a process known as chemical exfoliation, which you may be familiar with if you’re into your skincare. The socks are worn for around an hour and the results aren’t instant, but over the next week, your feet will quite literally shed their dry skin, leaving your feet noticeably smoother and softer. It’s every bit as satisfying as it is disgusting (be prepared to do a lot of vacuuming!), but every friend, colleague, and family member I’ve recommended these to has become a loyal user.
Once your feet are rid of the worst, it’s all about regular maintenance. You won’t need to use the foot peel often but doing one every two or three months is a good way to stay on top of things and prevent really hard skin from building up again. I’d also recommend investing in a foot file – it looks (and acts) like a grater, giving feet an intense physical exfoliation to get rid of dry skin and even calluses and corns (really thick, hardened patches of skin). I’m currently using Starskin’s VIP Fab Foot File, which is perfectly shaped for treating the heel area. Not quite as intensive, but another way to exfoliate your feet is to use a foot scrub – you could even just use your regular body scrub and make this a daily shower ritual to keep on top of things.
Of course, hydration and moisturisation is vital in any area where skin is dry. The skin of our feet is around 12 times thicker than the skin on the rest of the body, so a regular body lotion won’t quite cut it, but a specialised foot cream or heel balm will be ideal. I’d recommend Sunday Rain’s Mango + Coconut Nourishing Heel Balm for everyday or Starskin’s VIP Gold Foot Mask as an occasional treat. Spend time massaging the product in and wear them overnight for really long-lasting results.
Finally, if you’re concerned about odor – another question that always pops up in the summer – keeping your skin clean and exfoliated and maintaining good foot hygiene e.g. changing your socks every day, alternating footwear, and avoiding wearing shoes without socks where possible will help. Foot odor is primarily caused by bacterial growth from sweat and there are around 250,000 sweat glands on our feet (more than any other part of the body) so you can see why this is problematic for so many people. TonyMoly’s Fresh Peppermint Foot Mask is a favourite of mine during the summer months because it not only makes feet smell incredible but also feels super refreshing. It’s the perfect treat after a long, hot day.