It's gonna get sappy up in here.
Fair warning -- this post is about my OWN hideous dry feet problems, so there are lots of "disgusting" photos of my feet. Settle in with a snack or drop out right now, depending on your level of perversion.
Oh, hi there, ladies! It’s officially summertime. Don’t you know you broads are totally disgusting everyone with your dry, callused feet hanging out all over the place? That you are grossing people out left and right who are forced to look at them in public? God forbid they should be bothered to mind their own business and just look away! You should be deathly ashamed of your dry feet-having selves.
This Slate writer in particular does NOT want to see your gnarly feet in flip-flops, ever. It offends her delicate sensibilities. I'll never understand why people get SO up in arms about flip flops. I guess it's an easy, trendy thing for people who don't understand fashion to rail against -- kind of like those obsessed "Leggings aren't pants!" proselytizers.
I have always had flawlessly soft, supple feet until just recently. But trust me, I worked for 'em. I am a lifetime pedicure-getter. I get the callus remover treatment for an extra $7.00 every other time I go. I am absolutely devoted to foot lotion -- I obsessively slather my feet with super-emollient lotions and body oils at least twice daily. And still -- STILL, I suddenly have this awful, super dry, dead skin on my feet, specifically on my toes.
Listen, I warned you about the foot photos way in advance. And trust me, it gets no better from here on out. They are gonna keep comin' -- like punches from the great Muhammad Ali.
I tried a bunch of different things to rid myself of this sudden onset of white, dry, scaly toes -- not because I really cared what people think of me, but because it was actually rather uncomfortable. My feet were dragging and snagging on my bed sheets while I was sleeping. It was most unpleasant.
I started trying to remedy the problem with what I normally use when it's the dead of summer and I've been traipsing everywhere in sandals -- my fancy Tweezerman foot file and some super heavy-duty Avon Foot Works lotion. (A sad side note here -- I reached such a breaking point with my gnarly feet, I ended up using a lot of products that aren't entirely cruelty-free, something I usually avoid like the plague.)
NO DICE. I let the lotion sink in, applied a 2nd coat, followed it with a heaping helping of jojoba oil. Zero help. I still had deadly, dry, white, scaly feet in the morning.
I trekked to my local drugstore to find something a little more aggressive -- and left with a metal foot rasp, which is basically just a cheese grater for your feet. (Much like the beloved Ped-Egg!)
I’m not sure why I was surprised when all it did was leave my feet raw and ragged -- like a hunk of Parmesan cheese that had been freshly shaved but was still totally dry. It provided no relief from the flaky bits of skin plaguing my toes and the ball of my foot.
The Internet helpfully suggested I soak my tootsies in warm water and Epsom salts, allowing my feet to rest on a layer of the salt and then exfoliating said feet with the resulting sludge. I used this method, as well as the fancy Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish one of my set costumers gave me as a wrap gift, but the dry skin just wasn't budging. It was the immovable object, and I was its host.
It was time to bring out the big guns -- and to me, that means procuring an “AS SEEN ON TV” product.
Callous Clear is a lower-strength version of the acid-based callus softening gels nail technicians use at salons. It comes packaged with a poor quality foot file and a tube of lotion you could get at the .99 store.
The Callous Clear callus remover gel worked sort of meh. I, of course, didn't listen to their dumb suggestion not to apply the gel directly to your foot -- they want you to squirt it onto these special pads that you then place on your feet all carefully. I did it like the ladies at the nail salon do it -- I slapped the stuff on with an old butter knife and proceeded to cover my whole foot with some plastic wrap.
It definitely does not peel dead skin off in satisfying sheets like the commercial shows (IMAGINE THAT) but it does seem to have made the dry spots maybe 20% better.
Let’s back up here and talk about the callus removers they use at the actual nail salon. Most of them list straight salicylic acid as the active ingredient. (Callous Clear lists lactic, citric, and tartaric acids on its label.) Isn't it odd that salicylic acid, the very same product that dries up your blemishes also supposedly softens your feet? It's a little contradictory, no?
I'm seriously starting to suspect that all these acid-based callus removers are actually making my feet DRIER over time when used excessively. I mean, I have changed absolutely nothing about my foot routine as of late -- with the exception of getting an acid-based callus remover treatment more often when I go for a pedicure. It's not a coincidence that it coincided with the worst dry skin problem my feet have ever seen. I think this might be what they call a vicious cycle.
So do you want to take a guess what I ended up doing that cured my dry feet in about a week?NOTHING. I ended up doing a whole bunch of nothing, and guess what? It worked like a charm.
I stopped scraping, filing, acid-burning and otherwise torturing my feet, and they returned to their previously happy, smooth state within about 5 days. I did, however, remember to immediately apply my favorite Avon Foot Works lotion after bathing, as I have always done. (Yes, my mom is an Avon lady!)
I also added one simple step to my routine -- I re-lotioned up my feet and slapped on a pair of cotton socks before I went to bed every night, re-applied lotion again in the morning, and wore socks around the house and out in the world with more lotion on underneath as much as I could stand. I think this is the real answer to deathly dry feet -- lotion and cotton socks 24/7. Not only is it obviously a really fashionable look, feet that are constantly exposed to the elements dry out miserably. Socks keep 'em covered and protected!
I then had some good results using lotions that contain urea -- yes, a chemical FOUND IN URINE. I love Eucerin's Complete Repair lotion. It's a bit pricey and hard to find (because urine is so rare, right!) but it really WORKS.
Urea binds to the keratin in calluses, helping to break them down. It's also highly attractive to moisture, and the cotton socks then help lock said moisture in. So my official solution to dry, cracked skin is a combo of sock wearing+doing nothing+possibly letting random people pee on your feet if you are too cheap to spring for some urea lotion.
I'll admit that even though I'm preaching at you to "Just Do Nothing" to make your feet look and feel better, I'm sort of dying to try this battery-operated Emoji Micro-Pedi machine:
What can I say? Old calluses die hard. LOLKATZ FOREVERRRR.
I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison.