When summer rolls around, your feet are probably used to being tucked away in closed-toed shoes during the colder months of the year. Through the bitter chill of winter and the rain of early spring, your sandals likely don’t get much use. When you shove your feet into boots or sneakers every day for months on end, you probably don’t really care how presentable they look. It’s easy to get behind on exfoliating your heels and polishing your toenails when no one’s going to see them anyway.
Eventually, the warm weather in July and August will encourage you to break out your open-toed wedges and beach flip flops. Even though you might be ready for summer, your feet probably are not. Fortunately, there are many easy ways to get your feet ready for summer in no time so you can slip on your favorite sandals as soon as the sun comes out.
1. Leave Damage Control to the Professionals
Even if you don’t have the time or money to keep up with regular salon visits, it’s a good idea to indulge in one professional pedicure as winter comes to an end. Getting one salon pedicure can help you instantly get your winter feet in a better condition that you can then maintain at home for the rest of the summer.
If you’re set on staying out of the nail salon, spend some time on DIY damage control for your feet at home. Take a few hours to soak your feet, apply a foot mask, exfoliate, moisturize, clip your nails, and add polish. You’ll thank yourself for the effort when you don’t have to treat your feet to anything but minimal maintenance for a month or two.
2. Don’t Take Off Your Shoes
Summer holds many opportunities to kick off your shoes and go barefoot. Whether you want to run through a grassy field or stroll down a sandy shoreline, resist the urge to go shoeless whenever possible. Being barefoot, especially in public places, leaves your feet unprotected against nasty fungi and infections. It also leads to thick calluses, blisters, and dirt that can be hard to get rid of completely.
Keep a pair of lightweight, flimsy flip flops in your car or purse. That way, if you end up somewhere where you’d rather be barefoot, you can replace your bulkier shoes with these sandals to save your feet. If you ever do leave your shoes behind for an extended period of time, wash your feet thoroughly ASAP and give them some extra moisturizing and exfoliating treatment.
3. Use Foot-Specific Skincare
As gimmicky as foot-specific skincare might seem, there is something to be said for using moisturizing and mask products that are made specifically to be used on your feet.
The skin on your feet, especially your heels and toes, is much thicker than the skin on your face and the rest of your body. Using a light facial moisturizer or scrub to hydrate or exfoliate your feet often proves ineffective. Facial skincare products are designed for the thin, delicate skin on your face and can’t penetrate the thicker surfaces of your feet. Products designed specifically for use on your feet are usually heavier and sometimes include harsher ingredients that your feet can handle but your face can’t.
4. Get On Top of Dead Skin
Dead skin is the major contributor to feet that look like they belong on corpses by the time winter is over.
Keep a pumice stone in your shower or bathtub. Use it up to three times a week to slough dead skin off the bottoms of your feet and around the edges of your toenail. Moisturize your feet immediately after you exfoliate them to keep your skin soft and hydrated and prevent irritation.
5. Trim Your Toenails Correctly
Many people tend to let their toenails grow out a bit too long during the winter. Clipping your toenails when you know your feet aren’t going to be visible is a chore that’s very easy to overlook. Cutting your nails should be your first step toward getting your feet ready for summer.
Always clip your toenails straight across. Keep the edges square and don’t round them off to avoid ingrown toenails and avoid an uneven, raggedy look.
6. Treat Your Feet and Your Face Like Equals
You wouldn’t fathom going to bed without washing your face at the end of the day, right? While most people hold the skincare routine they use on their face to the highest standards, many don’t give their feet the same attention.
Always wash your feet thoroughly before you get into bed each night, even if you’ve been wearing closed-toed shoes all day. Moisturize your feet right after patting them dry. Your skin will be able to absorb the moisturizer when it’s damp. Also, just as you religiously apply your face mask on a regular schedule, make sure to keep up with your exfoliation routine at least once or twice a week.
7. Pick the Right Polish
The polish you use to paint your toenails can make or break how your feet look. Avoid pale and dark color extremes. The contrast between pale or dark shades and your skin tends to wash out your skin tone and create an unattractive, corpse-y finish. Take advantage of summer style to brighten up your feet in cheerful shades of orange or pink.
To really make a summery statement with your feet, go for a neon coral or orange hue. If you prefer a more polished, neutral finish, choose a less flashy peach or millennial pink. No matter what color polish you choose, always apply a generous base coat underneath the colored polish. A clear base coat protects your nail beds from harsh chemicals in your polish and prevents staining and yellowing.
Keeping your feet looking perfectly presentable year round isn’t a top priority for many women. When it’s time to show off your pedicure at your neighborhood barbecue, though, you’ll wish you’d taken better care of your feet while they were hidden in your winter boots. Luckily, your neglected winter feet aren’t a lost cause. Get your feet back in tip-top shape for summer so you can enjoy the season’s poolside days and beach vacations without worrying about how your toes look.