I basically called my mom for help. Except when I say mom, I mean an esthetician.
My dad has always been a funny guy. He has a strong sense of dry, sarcastic humour that usually results in him just making fun of everybody, not excluding his own daughters.
I have always been fairly confident, so usually I just laughed along, but a few things my dad said hit home. It wasn't purposeful or malicious, but it happened. Some of the jokes and comments he'd make about my appearance have stuck with me into adulthood.
More than anything, my dad taught me early on to despise and hide my feet.
My dad thought my feet were disgusting. He could be heard begging me to "put those things away" when I had my feet curled under me on the couch or I dared to rest them on the coffee table. He constantly reminded me that, unlike my mother's feet, which he thought were perfect and beautiful, I had mangled, scary feet similar to his mother's. Something about them just really bothered him, and in turn, they started to bother me.
In his defence, my feet are really ugly. I've had issues with dry skin, ingrown toenails, bunions--you name it. My baby toenails never seem to grow in, and I never wear sandals as a result. I even struggled with a creepy fungus for awhile, but luckily a prescribed cream zapped that grossness in a hurry.
I didn't always have so many issues with my feet. They started out soft and more or less normally shaped, just a little less perfect than others. The state of ruin I find them in today is the result of years of neglect and shame. I make a point of almost never showing or touching my feet.
For as long as I can remember, I have ignored the state of my feet. I always wear socks, nonstop, until the last second I slip into bed. I even wear socks with my one pair of sandals, a glittery set of jelly shoes I bought this last summer in a spontaneous moment.
When I do paint my toenails, I'll often messily slap on a bright pink polish over whatever else I have painted on there. I never even bother to remove old polish, because no one will ever get close enough to see the lumpy layers of old colours underneath. I often forget toenails even have cuticles.
But as of this moment, all of that is going to change.
Writing for a beauty site has really changed my perspective on a lot of things. I have started to play with my makeup routine, something I've left untouched for years. I watch trends and closely examine nails on the runway. I delight in the tiniest details.
With all this change happening in my beauty brain, it suddenly clicked that the one part of my body I was still ignoring and not attempting to prettify was my feet. My dreaded horrible feet.
Suddenly confident with the new sense of control and adventure that beauty writing has graciously awarded me, I made a decision I have been putting off for far too long: I am going to show my feet some serious love.
As a life-long foot neglecter, I really have no clue where to start with this project. I can write my fingers off about hair products, but when it comes to the attachments below my ankle, I may as well have never had any until now. So I've just started reading reviews and acquiring foot products to try in an attempt to solidify a foot-acceptance beauty ritual that will make me feel good about even my tiniest toe.
In the end, I hit up LUSH, loaded up on their foot favourites, and started the makeover.
I really wanted to test the success of my potential new ritual, so I enlisted my partner. Emmett has the only feet I would ever call uglier than mine. He has horribly dry skin, and although my toenails are a force to be reckoned with, his are so long sometimes that they cut his foot open in his shoes.
They also look strangely blue and dead like, all the time. See for yourself:
Yeah. Clearly, we both needed some foot help, so I decided to name one average weekday "foot spa day" and go to town.
I wanted to focus on nails first. Sometimes I'll leave my old polish on my toes so long that it has completely chipped off most of the smaller toes by the time I remove it from my big toe. I removed the copious layers of goopy polish that had built on each nail with a hefty amount of polish remover and cotton balls.
Then I applied some melted coconut oil to each toe and pushed down the cuticles until they were satisfactorily hidden.
I did Emmett's next, a process which he described as "scarier than watching The Ring last night" and "painful like the dentist".
With cuticles out of the way, I cut and filed my nails. I prefer a round shape, but square is better for that aforementioned ingrown toenail, so I aimed for somewhere in-between, softening the sharp corners with my nail file.
I cut Emmett's jagged toenails into a similar shape, mostly because when I offered square he seemed to have no comprehension of what that would even be.
Then we applied the Lush Volcano foot mask and rubbed it into all the hard areas of our feet and around each toe. It smelled like Christmas spice and medicine.
We wrapped our feet in Saran wrap and let it sit for 20 minutes (a bit longer than prescribed by the tub instructions) while we each worked on our computers.
"It's really cool. So minty! Are you quoting me?" Emmett rambled from across our tiny office. It really did feel minty and cool, though not as tingly as I had anticipated.
We managed to get foot mask all over the floor on our way to rinse it off in the shower, which leads me to believe it would probably be best to apply the mask in the bathroom and then stay in there with a book until you rinse, or cover the plastic wrap with an old pair of socks to keep it in place.
After the mask was sufficiently rinsed, we paused to examine the results. our feet felt super cool and really clean, and the skin was visibly softer and pinker. I think this product would totally be a godsend on one of those nights where you come home from dancing and your feet are hot and burning. It as also just generally kind of fun to do.
To get at those dry, callused patches, we moved onto deeper exfoliation with a chunk of Stepping Stone foot scrub, a zesty foot pumice shaped like an adorable little green foot.
I used a kitchen knife to cut us each off a small chunk so we could use the scrub multiple times, and we focused on our hardest remaining areas. The pumice was lemony fresh and easy to use, beating apart as I rubbed it into my problem areas.
"Smells so good!" Emmett called from the bathroom. "Now I feel like eating sour candy."
The pumice worked super-well, and had clearly cleaned off a lot of dead skin. A few of the really hard bits remained, but I think repeated use would eventually scrub every last yucky dead parts away.
After I'd spend a good 15 minutes fawning over my soft new footsies, I carefully painted each nail with a heavy coat of Butter London Nail Fertilizer.
My nails always seem sort of wonky and unhealthy, especially on my toes, but this stuff works wonders, so I'm confident they'll be gorgeous and strong in no time.
Emmett skipped this step because cutting through his nails is already like cutting through BONE.
We topped the whole process off with a thick layer of Lush's Fair Trade Foot Lotion, and put on some clean cotton socks to lock in the moisture and protect the floor from hot pink footprints.
This cream is so luxuriously thick and buttery, and it smells like sweet pepperminty goodness. It also has soothing arnica in the ingredients list, which can help relax feet after a long day of standing or high-heel walking, and it's the cutest pink colour. Definitely a new household favourite.
We took off the socks an hour later to unveil (unsock?) the final results.
Our feet looked so soft and nice! I finally wanted to look at my feet, to touch them, to decorate them with pretty polish and lace them into crazy-cool sandals! I felt like texting my Dad a picture with the caption "AT LAST!”
The whole process was really fun and confidence-building, and I think the routine could easily be worked into my actual life schedule.
Emmett's review: "You're cute. Thank you for this special treatment. I feel so rejuvenated... Don't quote me! Off the record!"
What are your favourite foot products? What else should I try?