Get Your Feet Soft For Summer (Or Whatever Your Significant Other's Name Is)

Take it from a size 10: These tips will get calluses and cracked heels under control.
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Publish date:
May 21, 2013
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exfoliation, feet, dry skin, burt's bees, bliss, foot creams, calluses, shoes, pumice, cracked heels, files, heels, socks

A running joke in my circle of friends centers on my feet. In high school, we would be hanging out or at a party, and I would invariably break or lose a shoe.

I remember the attention of an entire house party shifting to focus on the rescue of the flip-flop I had dropped off a dock. (The one got away.) Or on my 21st birthday when, leaving a rooftop club and descending what seemed to be countless flights of stairs, my strappy sandal broke clean in half, right across the arch.

You could blame these mishaps on the fact that size-10 feet are disproportionately large for a 5’7” frame, and post-adolescent body was just getting used to this crappy arrangement. Or perhaps the circumstantial clumsiness was due to my experimentation with certain substances. I guess we’ll never know!

Now, my shoes are no longer suffering abuse, but my feet sure are. Blisters, calluses, stubbed toes, cracked heels--there’s always something unpleasant going on down there. Not all of it can be controlled, but I can at least keep the calluses and cracked heels at bay.

Here in Florida, it’s beach season all year round. But for those of you who are just busting out your sandals for the first time in many months, you might want to try these tips before exposing your feet to public scrutiny.

Or, you know, just get a pedicure.

Like so many other beauty maintenance regimens, caring for the skin on your feet starts in the shower (or bath). I try to do this twice a week. Do your normal routine while your feet get wet and soft. Then choose your tool of choice.

Over the years, I've accumulated three different scrubber-type utensils that I use alternately or in succession, depending on how hobbit-like my feet are at the time. A curved pumice stone is easy to grip and maneuver. Two different files--one made of stainless steel and the other of emery--each feature two sides, one coarse and one fine. Long handles make for good leverage, especially on tough heels.

Start with the coarsest finish and progress to the finest, in order to remove dead skin and then smooth and soften. Pass the file over the dead skin several times in the same direction. Use a little elbow grease. If your foot starts to hurt or bleed, stop filing and resume the next day as long as there's no open skin.

When you’re done showering, immediately apply an intensely moisturizing cream. Ones made specifically for feet are best because they’re thicker and continue to moisturize longer than other formulas.

I’m a big fan of Burt’s Bees Thoroughly Therapeutic Honey & Bilberry Foot Crème. It smells great and isn't greasy. Apply a generous amount and allow to absorb. For extra hydration, put on clean cotton socks (for breathability) or go the extra mile with those awesome Bliss Softening Socks. The squishy gel lining imparts extra moisture; I like to wear them overnight, but 20 minutes will do the trick.

The skin of your feet is also affected by your footwear choice. Tight shoes, high heels and sandals are all culprits, as well as going without socks. In the land of endless flip-flops, I have to make a concerted effort to mix up my shoes every once in a while for this very reason.

Dry climates and general dehydration of the body can also play a part, so keep that in mind before you take to your feet with a circular sander.

What do you want to improve about your feet before summer? Got any advice for not stubbing my toes as often as I do?