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June 24, 2022
We all love a good pedicure, but outside of that, how much time are you devoting to caring for your feet and toenails? Probably a lot less than the rest of your self-care routines for your face or your hair or fitness. Translation: Most of us aren’t doing enough.
While regular professional pedicures are essential, feet really must be cared for in between treatments. So where to begin? First, you need to wash them regularly and practice good foot hygiene. We know that sounds obvious, but many people just let the soap suds run down in the shower and hope that will suffice. In reality, feet need to be cleaned especially thoroughly because they are different in ways that make them a unique habitat for supporting microbes, that include odor-causing bacteria. Washing regularly, can support simple health benefits by helping to limit environments for bacterial growth.
Once your feet are clean, there are two essential steps for good foot care.
First is exfoliation—removing dead skin cells and callus from the feet is critical. Calluses occur from friction and are largely due to the biomechanical properties of how our feet make contact within our shoes. Leaving some callus is okay, because if you take off too much skin you may cause bleeding and pain. Exfoliation should never hurt! Callus is best removed mechanically with abrasives, but avoid pumices as they can harbor all sorts of bacteria. If you are going to use pumice, purchase inexpensively and in bulk so that you only use each one a single time. You can also use a foot file with removable grit. If you add an exfoliating scrub with sea salts to this step—perhaps in the bath while soaking—you’ll end up with baby soft feet.
You can also use Epsom Salts as soaks to support healthy blood flow and decrease swelling and inflammation. The effectiveness of sea salt soaks is more difficult to quantify as these products vary tremendously in their compositions.
After you exfoliate, step two is proper hydration and callus prevention. We suggest using a cream that contains urea which acts as a very efficient dead skin remover—and helps prevent new callus from forming. Urea creams were once only available by prescription, but there are now many over the counter options. You should also apply an everyday moisturizer which helps with prevention and combats dry skin. Look for one containing shea which can help seal in moisture. We also love the calming benefits of lavender oil and hyaluronic acid, which can mimic the skin’s natural lipid barrier and offer protection.
Once your feet are nice and soft, turn your attention to your toenails. The best way to groom your toenail cuticles is to give your feet that good soak we talked about earlier and then push the softened cuticles back with an orange stick or cuticle pusher. Any excess hangnail can be snipped with a sterile, sharp cuticle nipper. Remember the cuticle is the nail’s natural protective seal. It’s like the grout in your shower between your tiles. Without it, imagine what would grow if water seeped in between! When it comes to trimming the toenails, cut straight across—as opposed to on a curve—as this will prevent embedding or ingrowns.
As you begin to pay more attention to your feet and notice you are experiencing more foot pain, excessive callus, or bruises on your toenails, it is very possible that your shoes are not fitting properly. Many adults don’t realize that our feet change too, even your shoe size. At one point in time you may have been a size 8, but may be an 8.5 or even 9 now. You might need to be re-measured. And generally speaking, shoes with a somewhat wide toe box are ideal. “Reasonable” shoes do not have pointy toes, nor do they have super high heels—and we all need proper arch support.
Follow these simple steps to keep your feet soft and reap all health benefits of an excellent foot care regimen.