How to Care for Your Feet and Toenails

Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:00 Written by

Your feet are two of the most abused and often used parts of the body, what with all the walking and running that you do everyday. This being said, you should make sure to give your feet the attention and care they deserve every so often.

Taking good care of your feet will prevent you from getting foot conditions such as Athlete's foot or other fungal infections. No matter what the season is, it is always important to keep your feet and toenails in tip-top condition. During the hotter months, for example, your feet are constantly visible due to footwear choices such as sandals and slippers, so it would be a good idea to keep them looking fabulous and presentable. But even during the winter months when you feet are bundled up in socks and boots, it would still be advisable to take extra measures in keeping your feet well-cared for. Some of these feet and toenail care tips are applicable not only to women, but to men as well. Don't overlook the advantages of having nice-looking and cared-for feet.

Here are some useful steps in taking care of your feet and toenails, which will get you to putting your best feet forward -- literally -- in no time.
1. Make sure to wash your feet daily. With all the running about from place to place that most people do everyday, the feet would have been exposed to a lot of dust and dirt by the end of the day. If you take showers in the morning and not at night, at least make feet-washing a part of your nightly routine when you get home. Lather up with soap, and pay extra attention to the spaces in between the toes. Wipe the feet gently with a towel afterward. Aside from being a mark of good hygiene, doing this would also ensure that you do not step onto your bed with dirty feet, and thus prevent from bringing dirt to your place of rest and relaxation.

2. Give your feet a pedicure every two weeks. Painting them does not necessarily have to be part of every pedicure routine, but regular pedicures really make a difference in keeping your feet soft and free from dry and rough skin, and your toenails clean and neat. You don't need to spend a lot of cash to have your pedicure professionally done in a salon, and with a few tools, you can do your own pedicure right in the comforts of your own home. Here's how to do one:

  • Soak your feet for about 5-10 minutes in a large bowl with lukewarm water. As an added treat, you may also wish to infuse the water with a few drops of essential oils or Dead Sea salts, to keep the feet smelling good and to soften hard skin respectively. The soaking time indicated here is merely just a suggestion -- you may choose to soak your feet for much longer if you want to relax, or if the hardened skin on your feet need extra hydration.
  • Exfoliate your feet with a foot scrub to slough off dry and dead skin, and to moisturize your feet as well. Massage the scrub in circular motions, and rinse off afterward. To exfoliate the hardened skin on the heels and bottom part of the feet, use a foot file or a pumice stone. Make sure to use a gentle filing motion, and to never rub too hard.
  • Cut your toenails straight across, as opposed to a curved shape, to prevent ingrown toenails from occurring. If you would really prefer a rounded shape instead of a straight square, use a nail file to smoothen the ridges and to give the edges a bit of a curve, so you would end up with a square shape with rounded edges. Ensure that the nails are cut and filed to just the right length -- short, but not too much that you end up hurting yourself.
  • Remember to include your cuticles too. Apply cuticle oil to your toenails to soften and moisturize the hardened edges, and push the cuticles back with an orangewood stick to create a smooth, open area ready for your polish. Make sure that you do not push too hard, or you might risk cutting the cuticles and exposing your feet to possible fungal infection. Some people also prefer to skip this step completely and leave their cuticles untouched -- this is okay as well.

3.If desired, apply polish to your toenails. Do this after you have done your pedicure, so that you have a smooth, clean base for the polish to go on to.

  • Before painting, clean the nail plates by wiping over them with nail polish remover. This removes excess oils as well as old polish from the nails, so your new colour will go on smoothly and last well.
  • Use toe separators to keep your toes apart. This makes the process of painting easier, and prevents a freshly painted toenail from staining another toe.
  • Always use a basecoat - a clear layer of polish - under your colour to prevent staining and to ensure your polish goes on smoothly.
  • Using the nail color of your choice, apply the polish to your toenails. Try to follow the "three stroke method", which consists of using one stroke on each side and a stroke in the middle. This ensures that the polish is evenly applied on the whole nail. Apply two coats of polish to your toenails.
  • After around 10 minutes, use a topcoat to achieve the smoothest, longest lasting results and a high-shine finish.

4.Choose nail polish colors which suit your preference or the season.

  • For fall, choose browns, oranges, and reds. Dark green also looks good.
  • For winter, try not to go too festive. For December, either go with red or dark green, but not both. Other colors for winter include dark blue and white. You can really use any color though because your feet are not seen a lot.
  • For spring, bring out the pastel colors! Soft greens, pinks, purples, and blues are a great touch!
  • For summer, use bright natural colors! Other colors that work are light blue, turquoise, yellow, and white. If you have naturally fair skin and like to tan, coral accentuates it nicely.
  • If you can't decide on a colour, remember that a French polish (nude or pale pink polish with white tips) suits everyone and goes with all colors of clothing and skin. But feel free to be bold with toenail colours -- on the fingernails, some colours can look garish and tacky, but on the toenails, pretty much anything goes!

5. Moisturize your feet everyday. Put lotion or foot cream on as a part of your routine. One way to achieve soft, moisturized feet is to rub on some lotion or petroleum jelly before bed, and slip on some socks. When you wake up in the morning, you'll find that your feet are very soft and are free from dryness! Just remember to never let the area between toes become over-moisturized, as this will cause fungus.