Feet don’t get the respect they deserve, do they? We plod around on them and take them for granted, but few of us take the time to really care for these amazing appendages. The winter months can be especially hard on our hooves, as they can end up dry and sore, or peeling and pungent from being trapped in clammy boots all day. If you’re looking forward to scrunching your toes in the sand and walking barefoot in the grass this summer, it’s good to take a bit of time to pamper your paws in preparation.
Salvation for Dry, Cracked Feet
The combination of cold weather and dry indoor heating can cause painful, dry fissures in heels and toes, and those cracks should be tended to before you go frolicking on a beach. No-one wants sand in those open tears, and any water contamination can cause infection.
How do you seal cracked heels? Wash your feet daily in warm soapy water, using a pumice stone or loofah to exfoliate all around the heel area. Feet can also be soaked in warm water with 1/4 cup of white vinegar added, but this should only be done a couple of times per week, and never for longer than 15 minutes. After washing or soaking, dry your feet thoroughly, and then apply a moisturizing foot cream. One great recipe for a soothing foot balm comes via Elana’s Pantry:
- ¼ cup shea butter
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ ounce piece of beeswax, grated
- 10 drops vanilla essential oil
- 10 drops peppermint essential oil
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan on very low heat and stir until they’re all melted. Then remove from the heat, and if you’d like to add essential oils, stir them in gently. Pour the mixture into a mason jar, allow it to cool completely, and massage it into your feet as needed. It’s best to slop the cream on just before bed, since you can then put on clean cotton socks and allow all that moisture to seep in while you sleep.
Fight the Funk
Some people have such raging foot odor that they hesitate to take their socks off, let alone their shoes, which doesn’t make for happy summer hooves: feet get even hotter and sweatier when trapped in shoes during warm weather, and being able to stretch toes in sunshine is a pleasure that no-one should be forced to avoid. Stinky feet can be tamed by putting a few simple techniques into practice, so even the most foul-footed can wear sandals without making anyone dry-heave.
Soak: Soaking your feet in warm water with green tea, baking soda, or vinegar added can neutralize bacteria and reduce odors.
Scrub: Take a facial exfoliating brush and scrub your feet with moistened baking soda, which will exfoliate as well as remove unwanted aromas. You can also scour your hooves with one of the following scrubs:
Peppermint Foot Scrub:
- 4 tablespoons coarse sea salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 drops peppermint essential oil
Combine all ingredients and then massage all over your feet. Let sit for a couple of minutes, and then rinse off with warm water. Dry thoroughly.
Tea Tree Oil Scrub:
- 3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
- 1 tablespoon epsom salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 drops tea tree oil
As with the peppermint scrub, combine all ingredients, massage into feet, then rinse, and dry.
You can also create a clay-based foot masque to combat any bacteria and leave your feet smelling fresh and clean:
- 2 tablespoons bentonite clay
- 1 tablespoon kaolin clay
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 2 tablespoons distilled or boiled water
- 3 drops lavender essential oil
- 2 drops peppermint essential oil
Combine all of the ingredients and blend it together until it’s a homogenous paste (a bit more water may be needed, but use your best judgment: the consistency should be that of toothpaste). Slather the mixture onto clean, dry feet, making sure to pack it in between your toes. It’ll feel really weird in there, but let it do its thing. Allow it to sit there for 10-15 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water, and then dry your feet thoroughly.
DIY Yellow Nail Fix
If you have a penchant for dark nail polish, you might find that once the polish has been removed, the nails underneath have a rather frightful yellow colour. It takes time to get nails back to a healthy hue, so be sure to start your colour-treatment regiment well in advance of any special occasion.
Baking Soda and Peroxide
Combine 2 and 1/2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide to make a paste, and use a cotton swab to apply it all over the yellowy nails (including beneath the tips). Let that sit for 2–3 minutes, and then rinse with warm water. Repeat this either daily, or on alternate days until your nails look healthy again.
If you’d rather avoid using peroxide, you can try the above method using lemon juice with the baking soda, but this has to be done daily since the lemon juice isn’t as acidic as the peroxide and will take longer to bleach your nails.
*Note: this also works for fingernails that have seen too much polish, or gone yellow from smoking.
Our feet carry us around for our entire lives, so it’s important to give them a bit of TLC once in a while! Soaking, massaging, pumicing, and moisturizing your feet isn’t just great for keeping your toes sandal-friendly: it all relieves tension, relaxes your entire body, and feels pretty fabulous as well.