The three Ps: How to prep your feet for summer 2013
It's the beginning of summer, and our feet just don't know what's hit them! After months of being tucked away under tights and socks, they're just not ready to feel the full glare of the sun. But like it or not, it's now time for your feet to come out of hibernation.
We've done this year after year, following all kinds of sandal trends and dealing with the consequences - so here are our expert tips on how to get your feet ready for summer...
The best preparation of all is ensuring you wear sandals that actually suit your feet: a style that doesn't work for you at the best of times will be even harder on the feet without socks. If your feet aren't a cookie-cutter shape that happily submit to any amount of ill-treatment, it makes sense to stick to brands that you know make quality sandals that are predictably sized and using natural materials - Scholl's footcare expert Michael Harrison-Blount has some fantastic tips on how to choose summer footwear.
Go-to sandal brands:
Clarks has a particularly awesome range of women's sandals this year, Swedish Hasbeens are always a treat for the feet - and we're huge fans of the new trend-led sandal styles coming through at Fitflops: these are designed to take pressure off the parts of the feet that usually come in for a battering in sandals.
Now is also the best time to get a pedicure: for the nails, I'm a big convert to the Shellac cult - and this long-lasting treatment is as well-suited to feet as it is hands! Get it done in a local salon for best-value results - then you can forget about your toes for at least a couple of weeks!
If you don't have the time or the funds for salon treatments, there are some great home products available that give the results of a professional pedicure from your own bathroom: these also have the advantage of being available whenever you need them. Scholl's Express Pedi is a particularly powerful tool that removes hard skin safely and comfortably, and can be used either to prep the feet or as a restorative treatment after a heavy sandal session!
If you're looking for a home treatment that will help you relax as well as sooth and cleanse your overworked feet, G-Spa is one of my go-to brands for feelgood foot products. Their therapeutic foot treatment is a powder that turns into a gel when immersed in water - and the result is a luxurious treat for the feet that will leave them feeling (and smelling) amazing! You can pick up their Gelocity Spa foot soak kit for just £4.99 at Find-me-a-gift.co.uk.
If you're looking for general padding - either after you've already rubbed your feet raw or as a preventative measure, you can't beat Compeed for its cushioning power: you can buy Compeed gel pads in large, medium or small sizes at Boots and other chemists. If you're worried about your staying-power in sandals on a long walk or shopping trip, stick a couple of these bad-boys on your feet before you head out, and you'll last all day. In fact, when used correctly the plasters can last for more than a day at a time!
We all worry about blisters, but what about the other problems that certain sandals and other unsupportive shoes can cause? Muscle pain is a very common complaint during sandal season, and is particularly felt by those who love their flipflops and open-sided shoes. Foot massage can be a great way to reduce this type of pain, but a good day-to-day solution is stick-on bandages such as those made by Kinesio:
Kinesio first came to prominence during the London Olympics, when many athletes wore the colourful strips on their bodies, but the therapeutic tape can be used on aching feet, too. They provide instant arch support and once applied, give the sensation of wearing comfy and foot-friendly shoes. While many traditional footcare products attempt to mimic the natural tone of skin, Kinesio have thrown this often impossible task out of the window and opted for bright neon colours instead.
If all else fails and your feet end up bruised and battered despite your best efforts, there's a wealth of great products designed to get them back to full health in time for their next outing.
Montagne Jeunesse has some particularly gorgeous concoctions for soothing tired and overworked feet, and I particularly love the fact that the products are all made from cruelty-free, bunny-friendly ingredients and are Vegetarian Society and BUAV approved.
I strongly recommend their Pummice & Peppermint Foot Buffer (£5) for getting rid of dry or loose skin, and their Spearmint & Cucumber foot lotion as a follow-up to soften and deodorise. It's full of moisturising goodies like avocado oil for a really smooth finish.
If your feet have a tendency to dry out in the warmer weather or if you're nursing old sandal wounds, a great healing treatment is Neutrogena's nourishing foot cream, which gets to work immediately and hydrates thirsty feet.
I've been using it this week to deal with the rubbed areas on the backs of my heels: it's a really light formula that sinks quickly into the skin and reduces the telltale white appearance of dry skin: if your heels are actually cracking up, there's also a more intense formula available to deliver even more healing moisture.