Soothe Your Soles: Feet-Pampering Tips
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Soothe Your Soles: Feet-Pampering Tips

Pounding workouts. Tight shoes. Your poor feet take a beating every day. These pampering secrets and healing techniques will speed them into sandal-ready shape.

Pedicure How-Tos

Pedi, Set, Go!

You run every morning but don't want your feet to show it. Soften tired tootsies with these pampering moves for active girls from Robbie Schaeffer of Rob/B Salon, an OPI concept salon in Studio City, California.

Step 1: Fill the tub with a few inches of warm water and a capful of sea salts, a natural muscle relaxer. Or try Burt's Bees Therapeutic Bath Crystals ($9.99, Soak your feet for five minutes to reduce swelling.

Step 2: Cut toenails straight across, then round the pointy edges with a file, to prevent ingrown nails.

Step 3: Using circular motions, scrub feet and calves with a skin polisher, like Sephora Body Super Foot Scrub ($10,, to remove dead cells.

Step 4: Instead of shaving off calluses completely -- exercisers need them as protective padding -- apply a callus softener that is packed with nonabrasive chemical exfoliators, like alpha hydroxy acids, on the bottom of each foot. After a few minutes, rub soles with a file until smooth to the touch.

Step 5: Rinse feet, pat dry, and apply cuticle oil to prevent hangnails. Then layer on a moisturizer made with super-emollient petrolatum. We like Dr. Scholl's For Her Ultra Overnight Foot Cream ($4.99, drugstores).

Top Coats

Be bold. These colors are bright, versatile, and ultra-fun to wear.

Green day: Rich jewel tones, such as OPI Nail Lacquer in Jade Is the New Black ($8.50, for locations), will resist flaking if you swipe an extra thin dab of the polish on just the tips of your nails.

Orange you glad? For a low-key look, try a poppy shade, like Essie Nail Polish in Tart Deco ($8, It has fewer pigment particles than darker hues, so it won't show chips as easily, says Jin Soon, a manicurist in New York City.

Rock star: Prevent polishes, such as stone-tinted Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Commander in Chic ($7, drugstores), from clumping by letting each coat dry for two minutes before swiping on another layer.

Purple power: Add a layer of shiny topcoat to keep vivid shades, like Revlon Nail Enamel in Grape Icy ($4.79, drugstores), looking sophisticated. Bonus: This polish is scented, so you'll get whiffs of yummy grape soda.

Post-Workout Feet Treats

A little tootsie TLC after a sweat session goes a long way. Here's what to do in the locker room to rejuvenate your feet -- and get them ready for round two.

Do a Clean Sweep

At the gym, rub a squirt of hand sanitizer on your feet after showering to guard against foot infections.

Sun-Proof Your Soles

If you're going out in sandals, dust a little mineral makeup with SPF onto the tops of your feet to cancel out UV rays.

Freshen Up

No time for a shower? Combat odor by wiping sweaty feet with cleansing cloths, like Earth Therapeutics Clean & Cool Foot Wipes ($5.99,, made with refreshing mint.

Give Feet a Facial

Hydrate parched heels by coating them with a mask, such as glycerin-infused Lush Volcano Foot Mask ($19.95, Sit in the steam room for five minutes to help the moisturizing ingredients penetrate.

Block Blisters

Protect irritated areas by putting a small piece of tissue over them and covering with soft, breathable moleskin.

Stay Salon Safe

Be on the lookout for these health hazards at your next pro pedicure appointment.

Nail No-No: Bare walls

If you don't see a state license displayed, the nail technicians may not be properly trained, says Paul Betschart, DPM, a podiatrist in New York City. Ask if they're certified. If they can't show you a license, head to another salon.

Nail No-No: Whirlpools

Because they're difficult to clean, whirlpools are a breeding ground for bacteria. "Buy a small jar of whirlpool sanitizing solution at a medical supply store and bring it with you," Dr. Betschart says. "Three drops in the water will eliminate most germs."

Nail No-No: Cuticle clippers

The tough skin around your toenail keeps out germs, preventing infection, and should never be removed with cutters. Ask your manicurist to gently push cuticles back instead.

Nail No-No: Pumice stones

These porous stones are germ carriers. Purchase your own and take them to the salon. Sanitize the stones after each use by cleaning them with soap and water and soaking them overnight in rubbing alcohol.


Originally published in FITNESS magazine, June 2010.