Simple steps for perfect summer feet
With sandal season well and truly upon us, it's time to get those tootsies in tip-top condition. Katie Wright reveals the tips and tools for an at-home pedi.
Peep-toes, pool slides, sexy sandals ... summer shoe options are endless. But if you're feeling shy about these feet-revealing styles, there's only one solution: a thorough pedicure and polish.
Luckily, cracked heels and neglected nails can easily be tackled at home with the right tools, techniques and sole-soothing products.
Follow our step-by-step guide, featuring advice from salon and podiatry pros, and get ready to put your best feet forward.
To begin, you want to get to work on dry skin build-up on your soles and heels - but don't soak your feet first. "The biggest myth I have come across is that feet are better filed wet - they certainly are not," says podiatrist Margaret Dabbs. "Water masks the area that needs to be treated and also can weaken tissues, causing skin to become rubbery and cracks can open. Instead, use a foot file on dry feet, always working in the direction of the mid-line of the foot."
- Diamancel The Tough Buffer, £40 (www.blissworld.co.uk)
Now's the time to pop your feet in a bowl of warm water mixed with softening bath crystals or a foot soak, then sit back and relax for 10-15 minutes (cucumber slices over your eyes are optional). "Soaking the feet before exfoliation softens the skin and stimulates blood flow, allowing better absorption of product," explains Kicia Bissette-Emanus, Bliss nail technician. "If the feet are softened, you will have more effective removal of dead skin and deeper penetration of product used."
- Kneipp Calendula & Rosemary Foot Bath Crystals, £8.95 (FeelUnique.com)
Next, apply a generous dollop of foot scrub, rubbing in circular motions and working between the toes. "A scrub is a great way of removing dead skin build-up, but it's important to use one that is formulated for the thicker skin of the feet, and that replenishes and hydrates skin at the same time," advises Dabbs. "Ground tea tree leaf, which is found in my Exfoliating Foot Mousse, is excellent as an exfoliator and has antibacterial qualities, while emu oil helps to rehydrate and deeply nourish the skin." Rinse in your water bowl then pat your feet dry with a towel.
- Margaret Dabbs Exfoliating Foot Mousse, £18 (www.margaretdabbs.co.uk)
- BalanceMe Skin Brightening Body Polish, £18 (www.balanceme.co.uk)
To prep your nails for polish, dab a touch of nourishing oil on each and rub into the cuticles. "With the aid of a nail buffer, rub over each nail plate from side to side, to smooth out any ridges," podiatrist Emma Supple recommends. "Using a hoof stick, gently push back each cuticle on all sides with circular motions."
- Jessica Phenomen Oil Intensive Intensive Moisturiser, £14.10 (FeelUnique.com)
"Toenails generally tend to be thicker than fingernails, but you still want to treat them with care," says Bissette-Emanus, who recommends clippers, rather than scissors or a file, for trimming. "When clipping nails, you want to take care to not split the nails or cause any ingrown nails. Do not clip in one motion, work from one side of the nail to the other, trimming straight across gradually."
- The Vintage Cosmetic Company Toenail Clippers, £8.50 (www.thevintagecosmeticcompany.com)
Give yourself a foot massage with a rich moisturising cream. "Work the cream into the soles, kneading with your fists and applying pressure in between your toes with your thumbs," says Supple. "Massage up the legs, too, as they contain the muscles that work the feet. Continue massaging until the foot cream has been completely absorbed." If you suffer with very cracked heels, choose a heavy-duty cream. "Look on the list of ingredients for things such as urea or shea butter."
- Burt's Bees Peppermint Foot Lotion, £12.99 (www.burtsbees.co.uk)
- Flexitol Heel Balm, currently reduced to £3.74 from £4.99 (www.boots.com)
Now it's time for the finishing touch. "Wipe away any remaining lotion from the toenails and remember to insert toe dividers. Paint each nail with a base coat to prevent the polish staining," Supple advises. "Paint each nail starting with one stroke up the middle, then repeat on both sides to achieve a perfect curve at the base, without touching the cuticle. Apply a high shine top coat and leave your nails to dry for at least 20 minutes." Bright colours can be fun for summer but for a chic, understated look, find your perfect skin tone from Rimmel's new Kate Moss-approved Nudes collection.
- Rimmel Salon Pro By Kate Nail Polish Collection, £4.49 each (www.boots.com)