10 Brilliant Tricks to Get Healthy, Pretty Feet for the Summer
It's time to pamper those toes! Your tootsies will look and feel beautiful with these easy tricks.
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Suns out, toes out
When we were stuffing our feet into boots and socks all winter, going sans-pedicure was no biggie. (Who was looking, anyway?) We didn’t have to worry about strappy sandals giving us blisters, and since we definitely weren’t waking around barefoot with snow on the ground, calluses, and splinters were the least of our worries.
But summertime means lots of outdoor activities and open-toed shoes. And let’s face it—neglected feet and unkempt toes are not a pretty sight. To help get your tootsies looking and feeling summer-ready, here are ten easy ways to pamper your own feet.
You don’t need to blow tons of money on salon pedicures
It’s easy to get your feet summer-ready with a safe, at-home pedi. First, soak your feet in lukewarm water to soften your nails. Dig any dirt out from under your nails with an orange stick. Then clip your nails straight across before filing. Don’t cut into the corners of your nails, and don’t clip them too short—that can cause ingrown nails. And never, ever cut your cuticles! They help keep germs away from your skin and nails. “Push your cuticles back, don’t cut them,” says Emily Splichal, DPM, a podiatrist in New York City. “I often see aggressive cuticle cutting as a cause of ingrown nails or infected skin around the nails.” When you’re ready for polish, don’t forget to use a base coat to prevent yellowing and a top coat after to help your pedi last longer. Treat yourself to an at-home spa and keep your feet sandal-ready with one of these easy homemade foot scrubs to pamper your tired feet.
Bold polish colors
Sure, red or pink polish on your toes looks lovely, but why not have some fun and switch to a bolder color? Opt for a polish in a vibrant coral, turquoise or even purple and you’ll be sure to have the trendiest toes on the pool deck.
A quick fix
Don’t you hate it when you spent time giving yourself a pedicure, and the second you step on the beach the sand wears down the shine? Don’t worry—we’re definitely not suggesting you skip your weekend beach trips at the expense of your pedi. Just swipe a layer of clear coat on over your color after you shower and dry off. Your polish will go from matte to shiny again in no time. And since you’re spending summer with your feet exposed, make sure you’re keeping your feet protected from infections with one of these home remedies to banish foot and toenail fungus.
Those new yellow wedges look stunning with your sundress, but by the end of the day, your feet are asking you, “why do you torture us so?!” Show them some love by giving yourself a foot rub—all you need is a golf or tennis ball. “After a day in heels, I recommend a series of recovery exercises I call stiletto recovery,” Dr. Splichal says. “I advise all my patients to roll their feet on a golf ball or RAD Roller (rubber massage balls) for at least five minutes; follow with five minutes of calf stretching; and 30 minutes of Correct Toes (toe spacers). This simple routine will help alleviate a lot of the stress placed on the feet associated with high heels.” For the golf or tennis ball massage, sit in a chair and rub the ball from your heel up to your toes, spending extra time massaging the tenser areas. Take deep breaths while you roll to help oxygenate and relax your muscles. Then switch to the other foot.
When the weather is hot and humid, you know how you have to fight to pull your rings off your swollen fingers? Well, guess what? Your feet do the exact same thing in the summer heat. And all of those fun seasonal activities like outdoor jogs, hikes, and sidewalk sales are bound to aggravate and inflame your feet even more. To bring the swelling down after a long, hot day, soak your feet in a tub of ice water for 15 minutes. Then pat dry with a towel. Try these other easy hacks to keep cool this summer.
Kick off your heels
Sky-high stilettos may look sexy, but wearing them too much can completely change the mechanics of your foot. The higher your heels, the more pressure you’re putting on the balls of your feet which is not only uncomfortable but over time can lead to bunions and hammertoes. Ouch. Your tendons can also become unnaturally stretched, which means that it will really hurt to wear flats. “I recommend alternating the height of the heels worn daily,” Dr. Splichal says. “Varying the height and style can help decrease the repetitive stress associated with high heels.” She also advises commuting in flats or sneakers and bringing heels to your office or event to limit the time you’re spending in the stressful footwear.
Don’t go barefoot!
You may be tempted to kick off your sandals and walk around the pool club barefoot, but you should definitely fight the urge. Dirty feet, splinters and stubbed toes are the least of your problems. “The concern when walking around barefoot at the pool or locker room is that there is always a chance of getting a plantar wart or fungal infection,” Dr. Splichal warns. “Wet environments are the perfect areas to acquire these infections.” She suggests wearing slip-on shower shoes whenever you’re in these situations and thoroughly drying your feet and between your toes after the shower or pool. Find footwear you’ll want to slip on so you keep your feet safe with these tips for pain-free sandals every foot doctor tells their patients.
Deal with rough spots
After your feet spent a long winter in close-toed shoes and socks, you’re bound to have a few patches of dry skin. Often times, the parts of your feet that experience the most friction (i.e., your heels, the sides of your feet and big toe) will feel the most sand-papery. The easiest way to soften these rough patches is by first, soaking your feet in warm water and exfoliating to remove the extra dry skin. After you towel dry your feet, use a pumice stone or foot file on the dry spots to gently ease away the calluses. If your feet are extra-dry, you may have to repeat this process for a few days to really do the job. Then, rub lotion over the dry patches of your feet to allow your skin to re-absorb moisture. Don’t miss the 10 best foot peel masks that will leave your feet softer and smoother too.
We love how summer sandals let our feet breathe. But with pretty thong flip-flips and strappy wedges inevitably come blisters. As the temperatures rise, our feet sweat and swell in our shoes (gross, yes), which can cause rubbing and friction. “Blisters are associated with friction, so any shoes that are too big or too small and rubbing in any areas are at risk of causing blisters,” Dr. Splichal says.
To minimize irritation, save your strappiest shoes for summer’s cooler days and opt for comfy flats when it’s humid out. If your cousin’s wedding falls on a 95-degree afternoon and you have to wear those pretty-but-painful heels, stick a few preemptive bandages on spots that are most likely to irritate, like the top of your foot or heel. “I recommend using moleskin or a special blister band-aid on areas you suspect may cause a blister,” Dr. Splichal suggests. “You can also use baby powder or Arm & Hammer Spray Foot Power to help manage foot sweat which can often increase the chances of blisters.” Here’s how to treat a blister easily if you do get one.
Remove a splinter
Splinters are why donning flip-flops even on your own deck is crucial. But if you couldn’t find your sandals this one time and ended up with a splinter in your big toe, it’s important that you remove it properly to prevent infection.
Don’t try and squeeze it out! This could embed the splinter even further. Gently wash the spot with soap and water, then pat it dry to absorb any extra moisture. If you can, use a magnifying glass to see which way the splinter entered your skin. Then use sterilized tweezers, a needle, or nail clippers to pull the splinter out the same direction it went in.
After you get the splinter out, clean the area with antibacterial ointment and cover it with a band-aid while it heals. Keep your feet looking and feeling great with these podiatrist solutions for the most common foot problems.
- Emily Splichal, DPM, MS, CES, a podiatrist in New York City.
- American Podiatric Medical Association