1. Sweet feet


    Take care of your feetDarlings let’s face it, most women want sweet feet. But according to the Sweet Feet Analysis from Kelton Research, too many women have beat-up feet. Eighty-four percent of the women surveyed were sometimes ashamed of their feet and 57 percent are often embarrassed by the state of their toes. This report, which is based on a survey from the American Podiatric Association, unleashed a storm of articles in the popular press by women confessing they did not love their feet.  I was shocked.

    Can feet really cause so much angst?  I remember that my mother and aunts had a trying time with their feet. They suffered painful cracked heels and weird calluses.  They would swap nasty-smelling home remedies.  This was long before nail shops dotted the landscape of every small town in North America.
     
    As I read the study, it became apparent why women have such terrible podiatric problems. It stated that 92 percent of women use lotion only once a month; just a third of the women surveyed moisturize their feet eight times or more a month. The mind boggles.  I know women lead busy lives, but a daily application of cream to ensure soft feet seems minimal.  Only 42 percent of women surveyed indulge in treatments that involve soaking or exfoliating.
     
    Before you assume that I think that women have unlimited time to pamper themselves, remember that a shower or bath counts as soaking time.  It is also the ideal time to apply one of the excellent exfoliators that are available today from companies such as Olay. The outlay of time and money are minimal, if you keep your supplies handy. 
     
    According to dermatologist and Olay consultant Dr. Kucy Pon, “dry skin on the feet is a very common problem, and if the condition is severe, it can lead to cracks and fissures in the skin.”  Dr. Pon says that’s not only be painful, it leads to infections, because barrier functions in the skin become compromised when the skin is broken. “Therefore,” she says, “it is important to keep the skin on your feet soft, smooth and supple with regular use of moisturizers and gentle exfoliation”.
     
    While some women lament short toes or bunions, it seems that cracked, dry heels plague most women at one time or another.  Dr. Pon says it happens for many reasons, but it can be treated.  “Dry, cracked skin on the heels and feet is due to excessively dry skin. People who stand or walk for prolonged periods put increased pressure on their feet, increasing the likelihood of cracking because of mechanical rubbing, friction, and pressure.
     
    “Also, there may be certain skin conditions that lead to dry skin, such as eczema and psoriasis, and even medical conditions like diabetes and hypothyroidism, which can be associated with dry heels, skin cracks, and fissures”.
     
    Dr. Pon recommends moisturizing at least two to three times a day to treat and prevent dry skin on heels in particular. She also says a product like Olay Body Thermal Pedicure contains shea butter and other moisturizing ingredients that hydrate the skin, as well as micro-crystals to smooth away dead skin cells and prevent the build-up that leads to dry, cracked skin.
     
    It isn’t difficult to care for your feet; instructions on how to do a professional pedicure can be found on YouTube. You can get a kind of “cheese grater” to rub off any hardened calluses.  One popular example is the PedEgg. These devices work wonders on the most callused heels.  You can get one at most drugstores for about $10.
     
    Clarins Foot Beauty Treatment www.clarins.com is a luxurious favorite of mine. It’s a botanical-packed moisturizer that’s perfect for mornings as it not greasy. For super-dry feet, I swear by Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E www.etbrowne.com.  It is pure grease and perfect for treating dry heels at night. Theraplex Foot Cream with salicylic acid is a great exfoliate too www.theraplex.com. These treatments take just minutes to apply, and a jar of Palmers Coca Butter Formula can cost as little as $5.
     
    Another tip is to learn to push back cuticles instead of cutting them. It’s easier and healthier.
     
    Another thing you should do is file your nails to a moderate length. If they’re too short, toes look stubby; leave them too long and you’ll look weird.  If they are broken or discoloured, consult your doctor; the state of your nails may indicate health problems.  If yellowing has occurred from nail polish, learn to use a good base coat. Discoloration can be bleached with a weak solution of hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice on cotton balls
     
    Darlings, this may sound like a lot for a busy woman to do, but it can all be done in about 10 minutes. If you want polish, add another 10 or 15 minutes application time, depending on your dexterity. Clean, buffed nails on a well-creamed foot will look quite sexy and cute. So leave the polish to the pros if you are rushed or just ham-handed.  Or get a bottle OPI or Essie nail polish in sheer buff or pink.  The application of these sheer glosses can be less precise. Though I admit, I prefer a sexy red or coral on my toes.
     
    Salon pedicures are a treat, but your feet will never look fabulous if you don’t take time to exfoliate and moisturize between visits. Use a scrub once or twice a week and cream daily!
     
    If you get blisters you probably wear shoes that don’t fit well. We have all done it. If you are prone to blisters, invest in Band-Aid Activ-Flex Blister Block.  These are specialized little cushions made to “seal and heal” a blister. Sufferers swear the work better than regular band-aids. Infections on your feet can be dangerous.
     
    Take time to treat your feet:
    ·        Use a mineral or botanical foot soak for achy or callused feet. Queen Helene (one my favourite budget-friendly beauty companies) makes Foot Therapy Natural Mineral Foot Bath. Under $10.from www.drugstore.com
    ·        Use a foot scrub regularly.
    ·        Moisturize daily with a good rich, even greasy, cream!
    ·        Use a good hydrating masque on your feet, or slather feet with plain yogurt for 10 minutes.
    ·        Try Pretty Hands and Feet. It is a unique combination of paraffin, scrubbing grains, and exfoliating acids that many swear by. It is also under $10. www.drugstore.com
    ·        Invest in a nail buffer if you do not want to polish your own toe nails. http://www.folica.com/MAVALA_Nail_Buf_d600.html
    ·        Buy some Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover and use it once a week!
    ·        Treat yourself to some Earth Therapeutics Aloe Socks if your feet are really dry and you have no patience for treatments. They are soft socks infused with natural aloe vera.  I do not wear them, but legions of our testers adore them! Earth Therapeutics has tons of delicious foot items from tools to treats. http://www.earththerapeutics.net
    Indulge in luxe spa products to pamper your feet·        Indulge in heavenly treats such as Elemis Exotic Cream Moisturizing Mask is a creamy mask that contains a blend of exotic botanicals and natural ingredients including: mimosa absolute, amino acid-rich honey, immune-boosting sea rocket, mallow,echinacea, mandarin and bergamot. Or try Elemis Exotic Lime & Ginger Salt Glow a unique sea salt scrub with a blend of oils including camellia. Ginger stimulates the metabolism and tones the body. Lime peel cleanses and purifies the skin. Sea salt exfoliates, helping the skin regain softness. Both of these products smell divine –they give you a lift.  www.timetospa.com
     
    I adore a professional pedicure. When I developed my first heel crack at the ripe old age of 23, I ran to my dermatologist in a panic.  I had no intention of joining the family sisterhood of bad feet!  She sent me to podiatrist for my first medical pedicure.  Heaven!  I have been hooked on good foot care and baby-soft feet my whole life.
     
    Over the years have I been mani-pedied by the best from Boston to Bangkok – and it has been divine.  But I am glad I can do it all myself.  I never have to worry that my polish is chipped or my heels are ragged, and I have no time to get to a salon.
     
    As Noella Gabriel of Elemis Luxury Spa Products says, “summer is a time when we wear toe-revealing sandals and we expect feet to look good after being wrapped up all winter!  There is no point having the latest Jimmy Choo sandals if you’re feet don’t have the ‘cared-for’ look”. This is even more important now that we are wearing bare shoes all year long. I still have my weekly nail appointment, but I love being able to do my feet at leisure and read magazines as my toes dry. I adore not having to rush out with still with nail lacquer that smears under boots or pumps –no matter now much spray or oil they use. My polish is always pristine and smudge-less. I relish my ritual, lotions, potions, scrubs, and lacquers. And there is not easier way to look like a duchess — or a CEO — than to have perfectly-groomed hands and feet all the time.
     
     However you go about it, just be sure you have sweet feet.

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