Too ashamed of your calluses and stained toenails even to contemplate sporting a sandal? The top chiropodist Margaret Dabbs has the answer
1. An Orderly File
File your nails straight across, no shorter than the natural ridge you can see just underneath the toenail. I prefer not to use clippers, as it’s easy to take too much off, increasing the risk of infections. Invest in a crystal-glass file – the grain is much finer than regular emery-boards and will not snag or damage your nails.
2. Push Things Back
Keep an eye on your cuticles, particularly on your little toes – if they get too long they can restrict nail growth and cause pain. Massage a cuticle cream into the base of your nails, and gently push them back with an orange stick. Keep them nourished with a cuticle treatment oil a couple of times a week.
3. Buffer Zone
Darker nail varnish can stain the nails yellow, so once you’ve removed all polish gently rub away any discoloration with a nail buffer. Try not to leave colour on for longer than 10 days, and always apply a clear base coat first. Watch out when applying fake tan, too – dab some Vaseline over your nails beforehand, to stop the colour creeping.
4. Brought to Heel
Exfoliating foot scrubs can feel luxurious, but the best way to rid yourself of tough callused heels is to use a foot file once a week. File away from you, following the natural curve of your foot, making sure that your feet are completely dry beforehand – wet skin is prone to tearing. You can afford to be a bit brutal, but if you are diabetic, or have poor circulation or cracked skin, you should see a professional podiatrist.
5. Slather it on
After filing away any dead skin, apply a moisturiser – the skin on the feet is much thicker than the rest of the body, so choose a specially formulated product. If you suffer from blisters, avoid thick balms that just sit on the surface of the skin and instead use transdermal lotions that feed the inner skin cells.
6. Stretch it Out
The feet are made up of bony metatarsal structures that need plenty of exercise to keep them supple. Bunch your toes downwards, as if you were making a fist with your feet. You may feel a slight spasm or cramp at first, but hold for 10 seconds, before stretching your feet out and spreading your toes wide.
7. Vary Your Shoes
To prevent calluses developing alternate your shoes rather than wearing the same pair day in day out. There’s no need to stop wearing heels, but make sure you vary the height – all the more reason to have plenty in your wardrobe! The same rule goes for flip-flops, ballet pumps, Ugg boots and any shoes that don’t provide enough arch support. If you run regularly, the friction of your toes against the trainer can cause your nails to thicken – up your buffing, make sure your shoes are long enough and invest in proper running socks.