Hot summer weather means your feet are (and have been) on constant display to the world and the elements. It’s prime time for backyard barbecues, tubing trips, stoopside soirees and every other sandal sitch you can imagine. If the thought of open sandals makes your toes curl (in a “hide me now” kind of way), it’s time to crank up the TLC on those sore, tired puppies and give them some much-deserved love.
To get the lowdown on best at-home foot care practices, products and tips, we enlisted the expertise of a nail therapist at Spa Nordstrom. Although we recommend seeing a professional pedicurist for trickier tasks like cuticle trimmings, a regular at-home regimen should keep your feet clean, smooth and, above all, healthy.
Step 1: Soak. Do this in warm water for at least 10 minutes before you use any tools on your feet. It softens the skin and gives you an excuse to catch up on that stack of magazines you’ve been meaning to read. To kill off any bacteria and fungus lurking on your feet, use an antiseptic product like GEHWOL FUSSKRAFT Herbal Bath. Therapist tip: In a pinch, throw in a handful of black tea bags—the antibacterial properties of the tea’s tannic acid combats athlete’s foot.
Step 2: Exfoliate. Slough off dead skin with a foot or body scrub (like Yu-Be Foaming Skin Polish) that’s not too oily (no one needs a slipping mishap in the tub). Pay special attention to the cracks between your toes—they’re usually the vortex of all things dirty, especially if you spent all day trekking through the city in open-toe sandals.
Step 3: File. Ditch the pumice stone (and that weird grater). File down tough callouses with a hygienic foot file you can use daily, even in the shower. Gehwol’s waterproof, antibacterial file is double-sided with two textures for instantly smoother skin and will last up to a year if you keep it clean with antibacterial soap. Also, say no to the razor—while we understand the temptation of using one, it actually makes callouses grow back thicker and isn’t worth the risk of cuts and infections.
Step 4: Clip. Trim and file your nails weekly to avoid dirt buildup. Be sure to routinely soak your clippers in rubbing alcohol before and after use to avoid spreading bacteria. If your cuticles are out of control, use a gentle cuticle remover with a disposable cuticle stick to push the skin back. An on-the-go cuticle pen can also strengthen and hydrate this area throughout the week.
Step 5: Moisturize. Slather on the lotion using a rich, creamy formula with emollients to lock in moisture for at least a couple of hours. If you’re doing this before bed, throw on a pair of socks to keep the moisturizer in its place. This is also an opportune time to dab a drop of tea tree oil on each nail to protect from fungus.
Step 6: Polish. Pick out your favorite summertime polish shade. Cherry red, sunset coral, pool blue—all these bright colors pop against sun-kissed skin. Before you paint on the color, be sure to sweep on a layer of nail treatment, like this Deborah Lippmann formula, to revitalize the nail itself—these guys need hydration too.