How to Make Your Gnarly Feet Look Soft and Passably Human

Unless I take care of them, my feet are part-barnacle and part-monkey paw, and can never be uncovered or laid in a pedicurist’s lap.
Publish date:
May 1, 2013
feet, pedicures, pedegg

Hello, I’m Robyn and I have bad feet.

I suffer from collapsed arches, which makes the muscles in my feet and ankles go all sad and ineffectual. My flat feet regularly walk me clean out of high heels, sling-backs and Havaianas, are doing their best to fuck up my knees and lower back, and –- at least once a week –- randomly tip me over in the street, so it looks as though I’ve caught my heel on something large and invisible.

They are BAD FEET.

If that wasn’t enough, my collapsed arches have also made the soles of my feet resemble the surface of some terrible, psychedelic moon. There are whorls. There are crenellations. There are other, more upsetting architectural features, such as crusts and ridges and yellow bits. I’m sorry.

The sad truth is that, unless I take regular care of them, my feet are part-barnacle, part-monkey paw and part-mutated Ripley clone in Alien Resurrection, and can never be uncovered in the presence of humans, or laid in a pedicurist’s lap.

This week, the temperature in London rose above 40 degrees F after seven months of winter. I just tried to celebrate by yanking off a sock, and it went KKKKKRRRC.

Happily, with a bit of commitment and a couple of industrial-sized tubs of Vaseline, I can transform them into soft, passably human feet in about a week –- and so can you.

Here’s how:

1. Soak your feet.

Stick your feet in a tub of warm water for about 15 minutes. You can add a capful of distilled white vinegar and/or a few drops of tea tree oil if you’re concerned about warts or fungal infections. For water retention or particularly achy feet, toss in a couple of tablespoons of Epsom salts.

2. Slough off the dead skin.

Gently dry your feet, then have at the crusty bits with a serious foot file. I use a PedEgg, whose virtues I have loudly extolled on the Internet. You could use one of those battery-powered foot-roller doohickies they sell on home shopping channels –- but really any heavy-duty foot file will do.

Just don’t settle for something with the exfoliating capacity of a pumice stone because, if your feet are anything like mine, you’ll be sawing away for hours.

You can also get creepy chemicals that dissolve hard foot skin –- but using them makes me feel kind of like a murderer, and I honestly find a PedEgg much quicker and more effective. I DO NOT WORK FOR PEDEGG.

3. Do the clag-and-bag

Splash pure almond oil onto your toes and rub them into your nails and cuticles to soften them. Then splooge a massive glob of Vaseline onto your feet and loosely massage it in. You can substitute coconut oil or a thick, gloopy body butter for Vaseline, but their softening effects may be less pronounced.

Then! Stick each foot in a plastic bag and tie the handles around your ankles. Walking around like this will feel like wading through gumbo, but stick with it. If you can’t stick with it, switch the bags for cotton socks but, again, bags give the best effect.

Do this every night for a week and your feet will gradually de-gnarl until, one day, they’ll look almost human:

Repeating this for one night every fortnight should keep the hard skin at bay. And here are some more tips for dealing with flat and crusty feet:

* Correct your gait. Flat feet can cause your feet to roll inwards (pronate) or outwards (supinate), causing joint problems in your back, hips and knees. Get your gait analysed at a sports shoe shop (or, more expensively, by a podiatrist or physio) then stick cheap, generic orthotics for your type of foot-roll in your regular shoes. Also, if you work out, buy gait-correcting sports shoes. My knees are less painful and my feet less crunchy since I started doing this.

* Do unto your feet as you would your face. Once a week I steam and exfoliate my face, then slather it in a mask -– I do it to my feet, too. You are supposed to put your feet up and relax in a face mask, after all.

* Wear insoles and cushioned socks (even under tights) to lessen the impact of thin soles on the balls of your feet (and mitigate hard skin developing).

* Finally, make sure you live with a squeeze, buddy or well-trained cat who’s generous with the foot-rubs. Over the socks, of course. We are not barbarians.