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Getting your feet summer-ready can be a relaxing and enjoyable activity -- provided you go about it in the right way.
We turned to Michelle Allison, the spa manager at Aquilibrium Salon and Spa in Oshawa, Ont., for her insights into how best to prepare and showcase your feet this season.
1. Get a pedicure
Stomping around in boots all winter can take its toll, so give your feet a kick-start for summer by treating yourself to a professional pedicure.
"Your feet are out there for the world to see, so it's a general rule of thumb to get a pedicure once a month to keep them looking fresh," says Allison.
But it's not just about appearances. Ingrown toenails or cracked, dry heels can cause more than just discomfort.
"Pedicures can prevent foot problems," says Allison. "Estheticians should be trained in releasing the pressure of an ingrown toenail, softening the skin around a corn, bringing down the size of a callus or even fixing the agonizing pain of deep fissures or cracks at the bottom of your feet," she explains. "The longer a problem is ignored, the bigger it becomes and it may even result in a visit to a podiatrist or your primary care physician."
2. Avoid trimming nails too short
Ingrown toenails are both painful and unsightly, but Allison says that cutting them dramatically won't help. "If someone is dealing with pain or discomfort it's usually an ingrown toenail," she explains. "And if they have cut the nail too short, it doesn't allow the space needed to remove the nail that is growing into the skin."
As long as you're careful you shouldn't hesitate to keep your toenails well groomed. "Trimming and filing your toenails will help create more comfort in closed-toe shoes and can also help relieve pressure caused by ingrown toenails," says Allison. File your nails between pedicure appointments to prevent ingrown nails and to keep them looking great in sandals.
Page 1 of 2 -- Discover five more easy steps to sandal-ready feet on page 2.
3. Pumice your feet weekly
After your feet have been cared for by an esthetician, it's safe to file or use a pumice stone on them solo -- provided you soak them first.
"I've seen some extremes when it comes to stubborn calluses and have noticed skin that looks raw or sore," recalls Allison. "This is because clients have taken it upon themselves to get rid of their 'sandpaper feet' through excessive foot filing."
If this is a step you feel you need, be gentle. "If someone is looking into proper home care, I recommend filing your feet once a week after they have been soaking and are soft, which will help prevent overdoing it," she says.
4. Keep cuticles pushed back
Trimming your cuticles at home should be avoided, however you can add oil to your cuticles and push them back to keep your nails looking clean between pedicures.
"Pushing back the overgrown cuticle on the nail plate will assist in healthier nail growth as it will help your nails breathe much easier," explains Allison.
And remember that when estheticians trim your cuticles, the process should be pain free. "The cuticle trimmed should only be that which was overgrown on the nail plate," Allison warns. "If done properly, it will be quick and painless."
5. Opt for bright, bold nail polish colours
Since your feet have been hiding behind socks and shoes for nearly six months, Allison suggests making a statement with your nail polish colour. "As far as the hottest colours of the season, summer colours are bright and bold," she says. "This year I've noticed an increase of mint greens and aqua colours, but reds and pinks are always a staple for summer toes."
Abide by a three-step process. "It's important to use a base coat, as it will protect the colour coat from the nail plate, and to use a topcoat to add shine and protect the colour from chipping."
6. Protect your feet against sun damage
Your feet aren't immune to UV rays, so Allison stresses the importance of applying sunscreen before heading outdoors. "It's always recommended to use an SPF with both UVA and UVB protection," she says. "Sunspots can turn up anywhere, and even though the skin on your feet sheds quicker, it's important to pay attention to all areas of your body."
7. Avoid cheap footwear
It's also important to opt for quality footwear. Allison advises against donning flip-flops as your only summer shoes. "I know it's the time of year for flip-flops and letting your feet breathe, but it's also important to make sure you are getting the proper support," she maintains. "There are many different designs for the casual summer shoe, and by keeping both style and comfort in mind, you'll help eliminate blisters, calluses and sore arches."
From espadrilles to gladiator sandals to peep-toe wedges, one of the best parts of summer style is the footwear. With some professional attention and careful at-home care you can easily ensure your feet are ready to be put on display.
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