It might not seem like it now, but it really won’t be long before we enter flip-flop season, and if you’re planning on baring your feet for the world to see, take heed: If those babies aren’t in good shape, people will be very, very upset.
Look, I get it. Your feet have been confined to thick socks and sturdy shoes for almost a year, accumulating dead skin and forming calluses along the way—it happens to all of us, myself included. That’s why I asked podiatrist Krista Archer to help us all figure out what to do to get our feet looking like something other than dried-out roadkill.
Let’s take this one step at a time…
Step #1: Exterminate All Fungi
Unless your name is Toxie the Toxic Avenger, those thick, yellow toenails and that athlete’s foot absolutely should be dealt with before slipping on sandals. The culprit behind these infections are fungi called dermatophytes, and fortunately, they’re easy to treat (and avoid). “Men tend to pick these up from the gym because they don’t wear flip flops in the shower, or they wear the same pair of sweaty gym shoes every single day,” Archer explains. “Usually when guys seek treatment—whether it be over-the-counter medication or professional treatment—they continually re-infect themselves by putting those fungi-infested shoes right back on.” You can avoid this mess altogether by simply not wearing the same pair every day, or leaving your shoes out in the sun whenever you take them off—those UV rays have powerful antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that should fry any lingering fungi.
Step #2: Ditch the Dead Skin
If you want soft feet, using a pumice stone (or other exfoliating devices) on a regular basis is necessary. “If you moisturise the dry skin that’s accumulating on the bottom of the feet or the back of the heel without manually scraping it away, you’re really just moisturising dead crap,” Archer explains. Naturally, this isn’t doing your feet any good. As such, Archer suggest using an abrasive pumice stone, which you can pick up at your local drugstore, to remove the dead skin from the bottoms of your feet—which is also fungi fodder.
The most effective way to use a pumice stone is during a hot shower, when the calloused skin is already soft and moist. Make sure to wet the stone before using it, which will help it glide more easily across the skin. Then, gently rub the stone against the calloused area until you’ve completely removed the dead skin—let the surface of the stone do the work for you. After you’re done, moisturise: Since feet have a high skin cell turnover rate, the top layers of skin dry out more frequently than they would on other areas of the body.
Step #3: Cut Those Long Nails
Simply use a pair of straight clippers, leaving only a sliver of white on the tips of the nails. Then, buff out any rough edges with a nail file, always filing in the same direction to prevent ragged tips.
If that all sounds like too much work, maybe just cover your feet altogether by wearing sandals with socks. Apparently that’s hot now.