Take a peek at your feet.
Hot fun in the summertime may have left you with rough, dry heels and toes that need some attention. The good kind.
“Like most everything, summer feet benefit more from prevention than cure,” said Jo Josephson, nail technician at Complexions in the Shoppes at Northpark.
Even if you started the summer with baby soft feet, months of going barefoot or slipping into flip-flops, along with a little neglect, can leave them looking ragged.
“That's why it's even more important during the summer to clean and moisturize your feet at night,” Josephson said. “I think really rough, dry heels benefit more by using a thick, heavy heel cream, preferably one with an exfoliating acid and an intense moisturizing ingredient like shea butter.”
One product to consider is Bath & Body Works Heel of Approval, but using a heavy moisturizer such as those by Eucerin on hands and nails at night is a good habit, Josephson said. If possible, lock in the cream and its moisturizing powers by slipping on lightweight socks while you sleep or at least for a few hours before bed.
Young feet aren't immune to summertime wear and tear either. Exfoliation may not be needed regularly, but those toes and heels will feel and look better if kept smooth and moisturized.
Our feet work hard, so most of us like to free our toes as much as possible during hot weather. What feels good isn't always the best thing.
The American Podiatric Medical Association says walking barefoot can expose feet to sunburn, as well as plantar warts, athlete's foot and other infections. Going barefoot also tends to make your feet more rough because they rub against hard, rough surfaces. Even walking on a sandy beach can cause your feet to become dry.
When feet become too dry, they can crack and are more susceptible to infection.
Dr. Steve Walker, podiatrist at Oklahoma Foot and Ankle Associates in Edmond, said cracked heels are painful, too.
“We kind of take our feet for granted,” he said. But they can't always stand up to abuse, neglect and lack of shoes. “How your feet go, your whole body can go.”
Plenty of sandal and barefoot weather is still ahead, so show your feet a little love. One of the best ways to keep them in tiptoe shape is with a pedicure, either professional or do-it-yourself.
“As far as getting a professional pedicure, I would recommend getting one every three to five weeks,” Josephson said.
If you're not sure about the routine, disinfection and sanitation procedures of the professional, ask or just opt for the pampering parts of the pedicure and not as much of the technical procedures with metal implements. All metal tools should be cleaned after each client. So should the pedicure bowl.
A basic pedicure usually includes removing old polish, modestly trimming and cleaning under nails, light scrubbing and moisturizing heels, followed by nail polish. Cutting nails too short is not good, but toenails that are left too long can look ungroomed.
“And I would be hesitant to allow a tech you don't know well to use a blade on calluses or trim cuticles,” she said.
Many techs, including Josephson, keep regular clients' tools (files, toe spacers, buffers) in separate packages. Or you can bring your own each visit, but check first with the nail tech for any brand or style specifics.
Also, most nail techs prefer to use their own metal tools because they're familiar with them and they know they do the job. So, once again, pay attention to cleaning and disinfection procedures, Josephson said.
A DIY pedicure
An at-home pedicure requires a few simple steps, according to About.com and the American Podiatric Medical Association.
Remove old nail polish and use a toenail clipper to trim nails straight across. Don't clip the corners of your toenails because it can increase the risk of ingrown toenails.
File nails in one direction, then soak feet for 10 minutes in a large bowl or the bathtub. For a little extra pampering, toss in some aromatherapy oils or a foot soak product. Dry feet well and apply cuticle remover to each nail. Leave for a minute or two, then use an orangewood or rubber manicure stick to gently push back cuticles.
Apply foot scrub to a wet foot file or wet pumice stone to slough away dead skin on the balls and heels of your feet. Give those toes some attention, too. Don't scrub too hard.
Use alcohol to wipe away any excess oil on nails, then apply a base coat followed by two thin coats of polish. A quick-drying top coat will help set the polish. Or consider a product such as CND Solar Speed Spray, which dries nail polish while moisturizing and conditioning the nail and cuticle.