There’s an old saying that if you eat a live frog first thing each morning, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day. Not so if you’re Louise Cantwell.
The therapist at London’s premier grooming location Gentleman’s Tonic frequently has the job of getting man’s ugliest appendage in order for summer. We’re talking about his boney, hairy, callus-ridden feet, which after six months hidden away from the world are probably not fit for public display.
Fortunately, as well as visiting the professionals for a pedicure (during which crusty heels are scraped down, ingrown nails removed and skin softened with various soaks and ointments), there are a few steps that can be taken at home to have more handsome hooves.
Remove Hard Skin
Thick, hard, yellow skin (we hope you’re not eating) on the heels and balls of the feet is not only unsightly, it can also lead to dryness, cracking and act as a breeding ground for bacteria. But don’t admit de-feet. Cantwell advises using a pumice stone or foot file to gradually remove flaking skin and restore trotters to their former glory.
“Hard skin takes time to remove completely as it has built up over weeks or even months,” she says. “Start by soaking the feet for 10 minutes to soften the skin and then dry thoroughly before filing. Do this daily at first, but as the hard skin starts to improve reduce to two to three times weekly.
Take Care Of The Toenails
For toe-tally pampered paws, don’t overlook the nails. Neglecting your ten friends in this area can lead to some pretty ugly consequences, like ingrowns and fungal infections. Keep toenails short and clean, and remove dead skin with a bathroom shelf-worthy brush to prevent a build-up of bacteria. Nailed it.
“The most important thing to remember is to always cut toenails straight across, never cut down the sides as this can lead to ingrown nails,” says Cantwell. “Cut the nails to the desired length using clippers, then file to smooth the edges to an oval shape.”
Sort The Stink
There are at least two million sweat glands all over the body, 250,000 of which are found on the feet. Rising mercury and hours in non-breathable shoes can send these glands into overdrive and make it smell like Satan himself is trying to escape from your sneakers.
“Always alternate shoes, leaving time between wears to allow them to dry so that you don’t put your feet into damp shoes,” says Cantwell. If foot odour persists, this can be the result of Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) or athlete’s foot. Step tings up with an antibacterial soap and foot talc and try changing your socks during the day.
Do The Upkeep
Now that they’re sandal-ready, it’s important not to neglect upkeep. Along with your face, clean and moisturise your feet daily to stop dry skin returning (we’ll leave the order up to you). “Doing this before going to bed is advised as the moisturiser can absorb effectively as you sleep,” says Cantwell.
Cancer that affects the feet, known as acral melanoma, is less common in colder climes (finally, something good to come from living in Britain), but don’t forget to apply sun cream when wearing open shoes or when on holiday to minimise the risk.
Get A Pedicure
If after all of this your dogs are still barking, follow in the footsteps of David Beckham and call in the professionals. The pedicure has become a go-to grooming treatment for Goldenballs and a number of other athletes, including Lebron James and Shaquille O’Neal.
“There are many variations of pedicure, and this will depend on the condition of your feet,” says Cantwell. She explains that these range from overall maintenance to bespoke treatments using moisturising foot masks to advance services where a blade is used to cut off hard skin and calluses.