Have you ever left a nail salon after a pedicure with shiny soft feet only to find your feet rough, peeling and cracking a few days later? That’s because of a few common habits of most nail salons do that strip and damage your skin. The products and things you’ve now come to expect while getting your nails done, end up doing more harm than good without you even realizing it.
- they soak your feet in too hot of water, for too long. When your skin gets wrinkly after soaking, that’s a sign of water loss by the process of osmosis. Scientists believed for a while that your hands and feet get wrinkly when waterlogged as an evolutionary trait to grip onto surfaces better, but that’s now starting to prove incorrect. They still don’t actually know why our skin does this. But, when skin is soaked in water for long periods of time, the natural sebum from your skin melts and strips away, which is supposed to keep the skin moisturized and waterproof. So, after stripping away your bodies natural moisture your skin is going to be very tight and dry for the next few days while you try to replace what you lost.
- they use poor and ineffective lotions. After soaking away your skins natural hydration and protective barrier they then rub lotions and creams which contain high alcohol and fragrance content instead of proper humectants or occlusives. None of which = happy skin. Alcohol is terribly drying to skin and fragrance can cause reactions for those with sensitivity that can develop irritation or dryness. When it comes to a moisturizer you want something that will either trap the water in your body/skin and keep it from escaping(an occlusive) or something that will replenish much needed moisture to your thirsty skin(like an emollient or humectant). Not only are the lotions most salons use terrible at replacing the lost moisture, but they actually make the problem worse by using ingredients that can cause even drier skin.
- it is easy to get fungal and bacteria infections from shared tools. Improperly cleaned or even dangerous (and illegal) tools used between customers can transfer infections. Fungal infections can cause dryness, flakiness, toenail discoloration, and smell. Bacterial infections can cause anything from inflammations and pus to freaking amputation!
Having your nails done for special occasions and pamper days is always fun. But I now prefer to do my own nails because it’s cheaper, better for my skin and easy! I can buy a bottle of nail polish for $8 that will last me months (and I have “signature” polish colors that I stock up on.)
Little known(ha) fact is that I sleep in silk sheets. Because of this I am slightly obsessed with having soft, smooth legs and baby-fresh feet. I cannot sleep if I have even the smallest amount of scratch to my feet because I will feel the silk catching on my heels all night. It is worse than nails on a chalkboard to me. So I have developed a great system for me to maintain soft feet at little effort so I will never ever have that problem.
If you have found yourself here because you want to know how to get the best feet of your life, then read on. There’s a wealth of information here for those with just a little dryness up to full on elephant toe.
Just remember, dear reader, that beautiful feet are possible. That is, if you take care of them. Our feet get a beating every single day – being shoved into uncomfortable (but fabulous) shoes and being the only part of our body that’s guaranteed to touch the floor every day. And I’m sure you don’t lather your feet up in expensive creams and lotions like you do on your decolletage, either. When the feet are neglected, they show it.
The soles of your feet are one of the thickest areas of skin on your body. It’s similar in thickness to the palms of your hands – and no hair grows here. There are no hair follicles on your palms or soles, which that it might be harder for this thick skin to get the right amount of natural sebum/oil that it needs to stay hydrated because it’s not traveling up the hair follicles to the surface of skin.
It’s true what they say about tough skin, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need some tender loving care as well. If your feet are in some serious need of attention, here are some basic rules and tips.
- Don’t pick any calloused skin off with your hands, nails or any other sharp tools. Especially if it causes bleeding or raw skin. If your feet seem to never get over having thick and flaky skin, you might have a fungal infection or other skin disease and you need to see a doctor about it. Picking or scratching instead of healing the skin can just spread the infection and make things worse. If you have problems keeping yourself from picking away the broken skin, cover it with a hydrocolloid bandage (a blister plaster) to help the skin heal and to keep idle hands away.
- Stop going to nail salons and getting pedicures – AT LEAST until your feet recover. A good timeline to avoid salons is anywhere from 1 month to 3 months. Like I mentioned earlier, common pedicure methods can make dry skin worse or spread infection from client to client. If your problem is fungal, a pedicure isn’t going to cure it, and if your problem is dryness then a hot soak and acetone isn’t going to help either. Take a break (save some money) and go DIY and try and take care of your feet at home.
- The areas on our bodies where skin is at it’s thickest, like the soles of our feet, are good places to use a harsher exfoliation method. Exfoliating skin removes dead, hardened skin cells that are not shedding on their own, and a dry heel is the perfect place to scrub away, unlike the delicate skin of our face or eyelids. Use a foot scrub or, my favorite weapon against scratchy feet, a pumice sponge every other day or whenever your feet feel like sand paper. Don’t over-do it, though! You never want to see raw skin or – heaven-forbid – blood. Start by only exfoliating 3 times a week and build up to every other day to give your skin a chance to repair itself or rest between removing skin layers.
- Wear gel socks while you sleep. Gel socks are cotton or knit booties/slippers/socks that have a layer of gel material lining the inside of the sock. This works as a physical occlusive to keep any moisture/water in your skin from escaping in the process of Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL). (remember that post about the functions of our skin?) They are so awesome. You can wear them around the house while you do chores or sleep in them and whenever you take them off your skin will be slightly dewy but baby-butt soft. Word of caution: those thick fluffy socks you normally get around Christmas time that say “aloe infused” on the tag are mostly bogus. If you want your socks to work for you, get the kind with the cushy gel inside.
- Massage your feet with your favorite lotion (preferably one without scent/fragrance or alcohol) after a shower or bath. Most moisturizers work by locking in the moisture already in your skin, so using a lotion right after a shower or bath is the perfect time to make sure you’re getting optimal moisture trapping. Also, giving your feet, ankles and calves a good massage daily will also improve circulation, leading to a reduce in swelling and varicose veins and thinners cankles. That’s always a good thing. Your legs and feet need some loving, too
- If you’re trying to get over an addiction to pedicures, give your toe nails some time to breath, as well, and remove that nail polish. If they haven’t seen the sun in a few months, your toenails can look yellow and dull. This could also be a symptom of a fungal infection, but you can’t know for sure unless you take some time off from getting shellac cemented to your nails too see if the color comes back.
- If you are in fact battling a fungal infection, try to avoid keeping your feet warm and moist for long periods of time. Maybe you shouldn’t use gel socks or vaseline every night. If you want something to battle the fungus, mix Tea Tree Essential Oil into your daily moisturizer, which is antimicrobial and proven to kill bacteria and fungus. Avoid any other serious DIY “life hacks” to kill fungus, like bleach or baking soda, which can seriously damage your skin and acid mantle.
body wash or shower gel (that does not have microbeads or physical scrub in it)
epsom salts (magnesium sulfate)
Slippers (I’ll post some of my favorites soon.)
Daily steps for soft feet that you can do in the shower or bath.
Let feet get wet and soak in warm water for no more than 10 minutes. If you’re in the shower, keep on doing your shower thing and wait until the end of your usual shower routine. If you are in the bath, soak your feet for a short amount of time and then prop them up out of the water either on the spout or side of the tub. Do not use HOT water to soak your feet. Do not let your feet get wrinkly. If your toes have wrinkles, you’ve gone too far.
Wet the pumice sponge under the water and apply a quarter sized amount of body wash or shower gel. This is important – it’s lubrication for the pumice so it won’t unnecessarily tug or cut your skin. Body washes that have beads or scrubs in them will just clog the pumice, so make sure whatever gel you use is additive free. spread the gel evenly over the surface of the pumice sponge.
minutes, then put on gel socks. Leave on overnight or for at least 1
to 2 hours.
Wear slippers as much as you can
instead of going barefoot. Especially on outdoor surfaces.
Put honey on feet after pumicing for
20 minutes then wash off for extra moisture.
If taking a long bath, rest feet
outside of water.
If you have broken skin or
particularly bad blisters or callouses, put a hydrocolloid bandage
on for as long as possible.
Apply Vaseline after applying
Do not pumice every day. Skip days
at first then progress to once a week.
Replace gel socks after a few
Never use a lotion with
“Alcohol” or “Fragrance” listed within the first 5
Suave naturals ($1.88 at Walmart)
body wash is perfect for pumice.
Gel socks work as a physical occlusive – trapping moisture. Those “Aloe Infused” fluffy socks are
If you want to splurge and get
Argan Oil, go for it.
pull or tear at skin unnecessarily
moisture loss. Locks in water like a barrier.
kill keep skin moisturized and cell turnover rate quick.
miracle product for generations.
rough skin. Contains a combination of AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs to
exfoliate. $10 at Walmart.
cracking. Very highly recommended through word of mouth.
Once you get feet soft, happy and healthy – just keep a pumice sponge in the shower and lightly scrub your feet with body wash and the pumice sponge after every (other) shower or bath. If you take a bath, prop your feet up on the water spout or edge while you soak. Don’t forget to lotion up your feet when you lotion everything else up!