We don’t pay much attention to the look and feel of our feet until we have them on show during the summer. Here, we’re going to run through some expert tips on foot care and how to ensure that your feet are healthy and perfectly presented.
Expert podiatrist Dina Gohil BSc (Hons) MRCPod says, “Take the time to look over your feet and toenails, notice any changes to the appearance of your feet, or if there are any aches and pains, as it’s important to address any issues early.
“Some common foot problems that people can experience include dry, hard skin; calluses which can form in areas of high pressure and friction such as the toes, balls of the feet and heels; fungal skin and nail infections; ingrown toenails due to poor cutting techniques and cracked heels known as fissures and verrucas.”
Whilst this may have not been the best summer in the UK, it doesn’t mean that our feet shouldn’t get the attention they deserve as Dr Bharti Rajput aka The Foot Expert explains: “If you’re over the age of 45, it is especially important to look after your feet as naturally the fat padding in the soles of the feet tends to thin out resulting in discomfort or pain while walking or standing due to the build up of hard skin.
“In the summer months, we are more likely to spend time barefoot and in sandals and our feet are on show therefore it is important to prioritise foot care during this season.”
Aside from it being nice and relaxing, there are good reasons why a foot soak before can help you achieve healthier and more beautiful feet.
The warm water in the foot soak helps to soften the skin, making it easier to remove calluses, dead skin cells, and rough patches during the pedicure. This results in smoother and more supple feet.
A good foot soaks allows the skin to absorb moisture, helping to hydrate dry feet and cracked heels. This is especially beneficial during the summer when open-toe shoes and exposure to strong sunlight can cause dehydration.
Foot soak recipe
“Combine a table spoon of olive oil, a table spoon of glycerine with a cup of epsom salt and a few drops of your favourite essential oil,” says Dr Rajput. “Next take a wash basin and soak your feet in warm water for 15 minutes. Half way through take one foot out and apply the foot scrub all around and work it into your feet and then allow it to continue to soak.
“Once you’ve washed all the salt off dry your feet thoroughly with a towel remembering the spaces in between ur toes. Then slather on a rich foot cream and slip on some socks to lock in the moisture. Most people just use ‘any cream’ on their feet however the skin on the soles of our feet is six times thicker than anywhere else on our body, therefore use a proper foot cream. Soft feet, here we come!”
Stress relief and relaxation
The act of soaking your feet in warm water is inherently relaxing and can reduce stress and tension. It creates a soothing experience that prepares you for the pampering of a pedicure. Coupled with essential oils or Epsom salts you can enhance the experience with aromatherapy benefits. Certain oils like lavender or peppermint can promote relaxation and reduce foot odour.
Soaking helps to clean the feet and nails, making them more receptive to trimming, shaping, and cuticle work. It also softens the nails, making them easier to cut without splintering.
Antifungal and antibacterial properties: Incorporating mild antifungal or antibacterial agents in the foot soak can help combat fungal infections and bacteria that may cause foot-related issues.
Safety first though
Before your pre-pedicure foot soak, Here are a few things to consider:
- Water temperature: Check the water temperature before submerging your feet.
- Cracked skin and cuts: Don’t use cosmetic products in your foot soak if you have any open cuts or grazes on your feet. Bathe in salinated water until your feet are healed, then begin a moisturising foot soak routine.
- Callusses and hard skin: Don’t use a razor or scraper to remove dead skin.
- Dry skin: Be sensible about the products you use if you have dry or sensitive skin. Start with reduced amounts and see how your feet feel.
If feet are healthy, the next stage is to hone them into silky smooth condition. Hard skin should be softened with a soak like OPI’s purifying Pedicure Soak, a foot bath that cleanses and softens feet with Tea Tree Oil, Grapefruit Extract and OPI’s Avocado Lipid Complex for around five minutes. Soak is low foaming and can be used in a footbath for added comfort.
The skin on the feet will soften and OPI’s Scrub is then perfect for softening calluses and revealing softer skin. Formulated with natural water dissolving sugar crystals, AHA’s, vitamins E and A, Green Tea Extract and OPI’s exclusive Avocado Lipid Complex this treatment naturally exfoliates the ski helping prepare for pedicure filing.
Once the skin is relaxed, massage with OPI’s Pedicure Soften, a non-abrasive cream full of AHA’s, Green Tea Extract and OPI’s Avocado Lipid Complex to gently soften calluses in preparation for exfoliation. Allow to penetrate for five minutes.
Tackling calluses and hard skin
Restore feet back to their former glory by removing any hard skin, Dina Gohil explains how: “To avoid build up and to help prevent callused and cracked heels, use a foot file or pumice stone during the week on a dry foot to gently get rid of any dead skin cells, followed by a good foot cream with urea in it like CCS Foot Care Cream. If the condition is severe, then see a podiatrist to help restore the feet’s skin safely.”
“If your feet are in need of a little extra TLC, try an at-home treatment such as Footner Exfoliating Socks, to get rid of dry dead skin and bring your feet back to life,” says Dina.
“Pop them on and relax for 60 minutes, and within just 7-10 days any hard, dead skin on your feet will have peeled away, revealing a layer of soft, smooth and rejuvenated skin beneath. Footner Exfoliating Socks contain Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) which help loosen dead skin whilst moisturises in the formula condition the feet.”
Another expert tip for coping with calluses is shared by Dr William Wong, a Consultant GP at Fitzrovia Medical Clinic; “I recommend soaking your feet in warm water for about 10 minutes to soften the skin,” he says. “Then, gently exfoliate the calloused areas with a pumice stone or foot file. Follow up with a moisturiser to lock in the hydration. Regular exfoliation and moisturising will help keep those calluses at bay.”
Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise
To help maintain the smooth, soft feel, look to make footcare part of your daily routine. The easiest way to do this is to use a specially formulated foot cream (not a body cream!), everyday. Smooth it over your feet and gently massage the skin – try it just before you go to bed to repair your feet overnight, making it part of your wind-down routine.
Try CCS Foot Cream or Heel Balm –The Swedish formula contains urea, a moisturiser naturally occurring in the human body which helps reinvigorate the skin and keep it soft and supple. Dina Gohil says, “I use CCS Foot Care Cream – with 10% urea and eucalyptus oil – and this is the one product I recommend to all my clients to use at home.”
Ultra-hydrate feet with a rich moisturiser like CeraVe SA Renewing Foot Cream, it is at the budget end of the scale but does exactly what it promises. Priced at under a tenner and available from highstreet outlets such as Boots and Superdrug, you should have no trouble finding some.
Nail beds should be gently dried and a layer of OPI’s Chip Skip which helps lacquer stay longer. After 60 seconds, a base coat or treatment can be applied, including OPI’s Original Nail Envy, which helps nails to grow strongly from the base upwards.
After 60 seconds, apply the first layer of lacquer. OPI’s Summer 2005 Japanese nail varnish collection includes everything from ‘Suzi Sells Sushi By The Seashore’, an easy to wear pearly mauve that comes in lip colour too, to ‘Don’t Be Koi With Me’, a bright orange.
After a further 60 seconds apply the second coat of lacquer and wait one minute before applying OPI Rapidry To Coat, a fast drying seal that contains a UV inhibitor ensuring that colour stays true. Rapidry Top Coat ensures that lacquer is touch dry in minutes, and for the final touch, a light drop of Avoplex Nail & Cuticle Replenishing Oil massaged into the cuticles will stimulate healthy growth from the nail plate up.
How to apply nail polish
- Remove old nail polish using an acetone free nail polish remover.
- Cut and file your nails straight across whilst shaping them
- Push back cuticles using an orange sick
- Apply base coat to avoid nail staining and to improve adhesion of the nail polish.
- Once the base coat is completely dry, apply the first coat in three strokes, starting with the middle and then one down each side.
- Next apply the second coat to intensify the colour.
- Clean up any mistakes using a cotton bud dipped in acetone remover
- Once the second coat is dry, apply the tip coat that will ensure that the nail polish last longer.
- Let the nail polish dry and don’t let it smudge by wearing closed toe shoes early!
- Practice makes perfect when applying especially darker colour of nail polish so don’t worry if your first few attempts aren’t flawless.”
Foot care maintenance and nail care
Check your toenails weekly, and ensure your nails are cut regularly and well, using nail clippers or nail scissors. When cutting your nails, remember to leave a small white free edge. Make sure the tools you use to cut the nails are clean and not shared with anyone else.
Personal hygiene is the best way to prevent fungal infections. Wash your feet in warm, soapy water daily and always be sure to clean and dry your feet properly, between the toes, as this is a prime location for fungal infections to develop.
Address any signs of nail fungus early, including discoloured nails (e.g white marks or a yellow or brown tone) and a change in texture such as thick nails, with a treatment such as Nailner 2in1 – which uses a dual action, one to treat the nail and one to brighten.
Once feet have been loved into perfect condition, a little bit of regular maintenance is required to keep feet sensational for strappy sandals. OPI’s Smooth is a luxurious, deep penetrating treatment that restores pliability and softens calluses. Smooth combats dryness with a rich blend of botanical extracts and emollients and when used daily, OPI’s blend of three AHA’s helps keep calluses at bay.
Refresh is perfect to wake up tired feet. Rich in anti-oxidants, OPI’s Avocado Lipid Complex and Menthol, Refresh is the perfect re-energising treatment to revive tired feet with this cooling gel. Perfect for Summer, Refresh soothes and revitalises ensuring cool, calm legs throughout steamy weather.
Nutrition and nails
“For nails in poor condition, it’s essential to nourish them from within,” explains Dr Wong. “Incorporate foods rich in biotin, such as eggs, almonds, and avocados, into your diet. This B-vitamin is known to promote healthy nail growth. Also, consider using a strengthening nail treatment or a cuticle oil to keep your nails strong and hydrated.”
Footwear fit for purpose
Expert podiatrist Dina Gohil explains, “The best shoes for your feet are the ones that fit comfortably in every dimension; depth, width and length according to your foot shape.
“Footwear that supports your ankle and midfoot when you walk or run, and shoes that are breathable, will help keep a healthy environment for your feet. So, in Summer avoid spending too much time in unsupportive footwear such as flip flops (they’re really only okay for the beach or poolside!).
“Shoes that are too small or too big can cause both pressure and friction which can lead to problems for your feet.”
Top tips for home pedicures
- Trim and file your nails straight across always to prevent ingrown toenails. Use a cuticle oil and gently use an orange stick to push back your cuticles.
- Soak and scrub your feet as above. Next apply foot cream over your heel area or areas prone to callouses and wrap in cling film for 5 minutes.
- Using a pumice stone or a foot file, gently buff away these area of hard and dry skin which will come off easier due to the footcream. Soak your feet once again and dry thoroughly.
- Apply your favourite chemical free nail polish or leave natural.
- Finish off with some nourishing nail oil and a final application of foot cream once the polish is dried. Voila! A perfect home pedicure to show off all year long!
For 2023 lacquer colours are bright, but a French Manicure on toes is just as popular. Ring the changes by creating a French using different two tone colours besides nude, pink and white are very popular in 2023. OPI has a range of two tone lacquers which go together.
When you are ready to go barefoot, why not try one of the nail varnishes which let the nails “breath”. Go for a pop of colour with Nailner’s Breathable Nail Polish in Rosy Red. Nailner Breathable Nail Polish in Rosy Red (RRP: £10.99) is a healthy alternative to standard nail polishes for nails without fungal infection and helps conceal damaged, discoloured and dry nails. It allows molecules of oxygen to pass through the polish and down to the nail and nail bed and can be used alongside other Nailner treatment products.
Hardened skin on heels increases with age. Help soften hard skin and cracks with Flexitol Heel Balm. It isn’t a glamour cosmetic purchase but it is definitely effective and softening callused skin.
Acrylic colours can be professionally applied and will last until August is over still looking perfect. To create variety, acrylic colour can be painted over during the summer, but with such perfect toes, why would you want to?
For more content like Ultimate guide to home pedicures and foot care for happy feet in summer and tips for how to maintain healthy skin after 50, or see our nail terminology guide on our Fashion and Beauty channel.
Thanks to Dina Gohil BSc (Hons) MRCPod, HCPC Reg of Mayfair Clinic, DG Podiatrist and Brand Ambassador for CCS Foot Care and Dr William Wong, a Consultant GP at Fitzrovia Medical Clinic and Dr Bharti Rajput MBE PhD AKA ‘The Foot Expert’ for contributing to this article.Tags: foot care, pedicure Last modified: August 7, 2023