Winter’s over, and though it may not feel like it just yet, spring has sprung. You know what that means – sandal season! Whether you’re going to prom, graduating, getting married or just hitting the beach, these tips will help you pull those hoofers out of the boots they’ve been hiding in and prep them for summer in no time.
1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. As we age, the skin on our feet loses natural oils and moisture, leaving us with dry and cracked feet. Yes, moisturizing your feet daily keeps them looking fresh. But also, sandaled feet are more prone to picking up debris. If your feet are dry and cracked, that debris can get lodged in your foot, and your risk of infection grows. Keeping your tootsies moisturized will prevent cracks in the first place.
2. Get a pedi, if you dare. Pedicures can lead to a whole host of less-than-savory foot problems. If the salon’s soaking tubs or equipment are not completely sanitized, they can transmit toenail fungus and bacterial infections, according to the Cleveland Clinic. But if you do get a pedicure, the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) suggests booking earlier in the day when the tubs are likely cleaner. When you’re there, watch the salon’s cleaning procedures as you wait in the waiting area, the Cleveland Clinic advises. Staffers should use hospital-grade disinfectant on tools and tubs between clients (if you can’t tell what cleaners they’re using, just ask). If they clean properly, you’re good to go. If they don’t, go somewhere else. And if you have a cut that hasn’t completely healed on your feet or legs, don’t get a pedicure, the Cleveland Clinic says, as cuts are easy access for germs to get into your system.
3. Get rid of dry heels for good. Moisturize clean heels every night with lotion or petroleum jelly, then sleep with clean cotton socks on to help lock in the moisture. After you shower, but once your skin is dry, use a pumice stone to gently slough away dead skin cells. (Don’t use a metal file, the Cleveland Clinic says, as it can tear your skin.) You can also try soaking your feet in lemon juice every few days to help soften the skin.
4. Trim toenails the right way. Clip your toenails straight across instead of rounding them, the APMA says. Nails cut at an angle and end up going toward the skin can turn into an ingrown toenail. Also, if you’re getting a pedicure, tell the technician to push cuticles back as opposed to cutting them. Cuticles serve as a barrier to prevent dirt and debris from getting into your skin, according to the APMA.
5. Brighten dull, yellow nails. If you always have your nails polished, particularly with dark colors, it’s possible the dyes from the polish will stain your nails. To remove the stains and brighten nails, rub a lemon wedge on your nails for approximately one minute.
6. Cure sweaty feet. If your socks are damp with sweat, take them off as soon as possible to keep the air circulating around your feet and lessen your risk of fungal infection. If your feet are sweaty from a trip to the gym or being in shoes all day, shower as soon as possible or at least rinse off your feet. A natural trick you can try, courtesy of Men’s Health: Brew a few teabags of black tea, let it cool, add two quarts of cool water and let your feet sit in it for 30 minutes. Do this for a week. The tannins in the black tea will help slow sweat production.
7. Pick the right flip-flops or sandals. If you plan to wear them every day, invest in a decent pair. The kind you can buy for $3 that bend in half? Not ideal. Those don’t provide the proper support, leaving you more open to injury while wearing them. The APMA says to choose sandals with a sole that “doesn’t twist excessively” and opt for natural materials, such as soft leather. If you’re sporting a wedge sandal, try a wider, flatter wedge, and look for rubber soles for good traction, the APMA says. Lastly, make sure your sandal fits properly — toes or heels should not hang off the ends of the shoe, the APMA says.