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 10 easy ways to pamper your own feet:
1. 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.
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.
2. 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? Funky hues are in for summer 2011. So go ahead -- opt for a polish in a vibrant coral, turquoise or even purple and you’ll be sure to have the trendiest toes on the boat dock.
3. 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!
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4. Foot Rub
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. 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.
5. Chill Out
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 -- you’re 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.
6. 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 overtime can lead to bunions and hammertoes. Ouch. Your tendons can also become unnaturally stretched, which means that it will really hurt to wear flats.
If you can, limit the time you spend in your high heels -- commute to and from work in your sneakers or wear stylish flats on casual Fridays. If you love your heels, try a pair with a one-inch kitten heel. And if you really can’t bear the thought of wearing anything under three inches, slip on a pair of summery wedges -- they provide better arch support than heels.
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7. 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. Public pools, bathrooms and showers are breeding grounds for gross germs and fungus. Keep your tootsies Athlete Foot-free and keep those flip-flops on!
8. 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.
After you’re done, rub a lotion over the dry patches of your feet to allow your skin to re-absorb moisture.
9. Prevent Blisters
We love how summer sandals let our feet breath. 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 make the rubs worse.
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 band-aids on spots that are most likely to irritate, like the top of your foot or heel.
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10. 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 imbed 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.
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