Summer is coming to an end and chances are your feet may be showing the effects of wearing flip flops and running around barefoot with reckless abandon, because beaching. Wearing open shoes and spending a lot of time barefoot means our feet tend to become dry and sometimes even crack.
Ultimately, your feet are one of the most hard-working parts of your body. If you have excessively dry skin or suffer from a medical condition such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis or diabetes, these issues, plus simple neglect of your feet can lead to dry, cracked heels.
Sometimes some TLC is all you need. Grab your foot file and a good heel balm, and try this quick-fix home remedy:
- Give your feet a good soak in some warm soapy water and make sure they are clean. Don’t just stand in the shower while doing this, sit on the end of your bathtub and put in some effort. By soaking your feet you are softening the tough skin on your heels, which is always the troublesome area.
- Now that your feet are soft, take your foot file or pumice stone, and using a gentle pressure, slowly slough away the thicker area that is bothering you. This is usually the heels, the ball of your foot and the sides of the big toes. By using slow movements you will get better results than if you scrub quickly and scrape with hard pressure. Go over each area at least twice.
- Now that you have paid some attention to the areas underneath your feet, it’s time to move to the top of your foot. Clip your toenails and remember to push back your cuticles.
- If your feet still have some hard patches or they tend to be very dry, use an exfoliating scrub once a week.
- Once you’re done with your foot file, remember to clean it off and get rid of any bacteria. You don’t want build-up.
- Apply a nourishing heel balm and massage it into your heels. Repeat this once a week until you are happy with the texture of your skin. It is always best to do this before bed so the product can absorb properly.
* Want to get rid of hard skin quickly? Soak your feet in lemon juice for 10-15 minutes. The acidity will dissolve dead skin, making it easier for you to scrub it off with a loofah. Avoid this remedy if you have any deep cuts. Just before bedtime, lather your heels in Vaseline and pull on some woollen socks – perhaps not on warmer nights. In the morning, your skin will feel softer. If you do this for a few days, you’ll see a marked difference.
* Before you can start to take care of your feet, you need to get rid of the thick, cracked skin around the rim of your heels. Most normal moisturisers won’t be able to penetrate this hard, dry skin so greater action must be taken. Try the Medi-Heel chemical peel treatment which is available at most beauty salons, or buy the at-home kit and do it yourself.
* Avoid overly hot baths or showers – if you have dry skin, this will just make it worse. Find a moisturising soap or shower gel, and avoid products that will dry out your skin.
* During the winter months, apply moisturiser to your feet every morning and evening. In summer, avoid moisturising your feet in the mornings – the heat of the day will cause your feet to become sweaty, and moisturiser will make them slippery which may be hazardous if you’re wearing heels!
* If the problem is very bad and you’re suffering from a medical condition like the ones mentioned above, it’s often a good idea to get advice from your doctor first. A podiatrist is your best bet.
Our top five products for smooth heels
Before you can start getting rid of dry skin or moisturising your feet, you need to soak them to soften the (sometimes) hard skin. We love The Body Shop’s Peppermint Reviving Foot Soak, R120, which contains naturally effervescent salts. Filled with peppermint oil, it quickly cools and refreshes tired feet. Add a capful to your basin filled with warm (not hot) water and soak your feet for ten to fifteen minutes. Rinse well before drying them.
If we totalled up the cash we’ve spent over the years on foot files that cost R30 and end up lasting two weeks, we’d be depressed. So trust us, your heels will love you for investing in a Tweezerman step-two-it foot file, R300, available at Dis-Chem. This pretty pink tool is two-sided: one to exfoliate and the other for buffing with a soft, supple finish. It safely removes dry, rough or hard skin and requires only light pressure to keep you in total control. It’s washable, reusable and long-lasting.
We wept when we found out our go-to foot balm, Eucerin Intensive Foot Cream, had been discontinued, so we’ve been using Epimax Plus Foot Cream, R40,95, available at Clicks and Dis-Chem instead. This budget-friendly option contains urea, which helps to bind water into the skin, plus it contains no artificial colourants or fragrances. Very dry or rough feet? Then Pedi Relax Regenerative Foot Cream, R79,95, available at Dis-Chem is for you. The formula is feather-light – you can put on your sandals within minutes after applying, and you won’t slip around in your shoes. It also contains vitamin E which encourages healing, lavender oil for improved circulation and thyme oil, a natural antiseptic.
If you’re looking to try something you may already have in the cupboard, BSA beauty, Zaheera Packery, highly recommends SOiL Ugandan Shea Butter Lavender Scented, R120. She applied a layer onto her feet, worn under socks overnight and loved how effective it was.