How often do you think about your feet? You might indulge in semimonthly pedicures, pondering the perfect nail polish before choosing. You may spend lots of money on and take hours to decide what kind of footwear to buy, whether you’re the ergonomic Dansko type or a sucker for precariously tall Louboutins.
But are you really giving your feet all the love they deserve for all that they endure? Feet move us through life. Whether you’re walking a mile to work or just to the garage to jump in the car, whether you’re hiking or strolling, your feet should be spoiled and fussed over. They shouldn’t be forgotten and left unattended inside shoes, no matter how fabulous those shoes happen to be.
Before you settle in to give yourself a pedicure, gather all the necessary implements for clipping, filing, polish-removing, buffing, soaking, moisturizing, and so on:
- Nail-polish remover
- Cuticle clippers
- Cuticle pusher
- Nail file
- Pumice stone or other exfoliator
- Bowl for soaking, or a foot bath
- Toe separator
- Nail polish
To set yourself up and get comfortable, gather everything you might want—your phone, your magazines, the remote, and whatever you might need while you’re soaking your feet in warm soapy water or waiting for your polish to dry. Pampering your feet is even better when you pamper the rest of yourself, too.
Soak it up
One of the greatest advantages of a spa pedicure is the spa portion of the experience when you sit back in a vibrating massage chair with your dogs up in warm water up to the ankles while you read about the trials and tribulations of celebrities in Us magazine. There is no reason you can’t re-create this experience at home with a big mixing bowl or a large pot—or something similar that you keep around just for the occasion. Fill it up with water that’s as hot as you can stand. Add liquid soap for bubbles and maybe even throw in some rose petals, sliced cucumber, lemon slices. or mint leaves. It may seem as if you’re marinating your feet, but certain combinations of herbs, flowers, fruits, and veggies create wonderful aromatics that add to the experience. As for the vibrating chair, well, get creative with that one.
Scrub it off
The time when you’re soaking is a good time to try out a scrub. Salt scrubs or sugar scrubs can be purchased at just about any beauty supply store or drugstore, or you can take the DIY a little further and make your own. One quick scrub recipe involves combining one-quarter cups of Kosher or Epsom salts, oatmeal, and cornmeal with a couple of tablespoons of aloe vera gel. Then add regular body lotion to the mixture and stir until it forms a paste. Then massage your soaking feet and legs with the scrub. You can also use just sugar and lotion for a more intense exfoliating experience, or add different scents to the mixture for further aromatic advantages. You can also experiment with different granular items to see which you like best.
Smoothing cracked heels
The scourge of many a winter-addled foot is the cracked heel. The dry cold, the lack of airflow in your winter boots, and your wool socks can all cause the thick skin of your heels to crack—often painfully. The surest way to avoid this situation is to administer to your feet a little more conscientiously throughout the winter. But in the event that you overlook this, there is a way to heal your heels. After appropriately soaking, scrubbing, and rinsing, slather—and I mean slather—your feet in the most emollient moisturizer you can find. Then wrap your feet in plastic bags and let them steep that way for at least fifteen minutes. Remove the bags and rinse your feet. You’ll find the cracks already smaller. If you repeat the process every couple of days for a week, your feet will feel like the long winter never happened.
We are blessed with only one pair of feet, so it’s best to keep them in top operating condition for as long as possible. There are a number of stretches you can do to keep your metatarsals and proximal phalanges moving freely. One involves sitting on your heels with your toes curled under, so their pads are on the floor. It might feel like your toes are going to break off, but they won’t, and stiletto-wearers will really feel the benefits of this stretch. Another bit of love you can offer your toes involves pulling on each of them gently, following with a little wiggle. This engages the tendons in the rest of the foot and keeps everything limber. And while it is a wonderful thing to have someone else massage your feet, doing it yourself is good, too—and your hardworking foot muscles enjoy the benefits no matter who’s doing the rubbing. Talk to any yoga teacher, personal trainer, pedicurist, masseuse, or reflexologist about the different exercises for your feet.