Skin Deep: Feet First

Hello 2012! So by now the New Year’s Eve hangover has vanished and all the Christmas décor has shifted to a brief Valentine theme before the big finish of Carnival-themed hues. Most people don’t pay much attention to their feet until the summer, when open-toed sandals and slip-on mules suddenly thrust every callus, blister and untamed toenail into the spotlight. Alas for the rest of the world the “taming of the feet” can wait a tad longer – but not for New Orleanians, as those Carnival soirées come with sexy, open-toed, strappy, glittery pedicure-worthy shoes.

To keep their feet looking attractive, celebrities and other spa-goers are spending as much as $225 for 90-minute “foot facials.” However, you can try some portions of the foot facial at home – specifically the exfoliation and toenail-bleaching portions – at a fraction of the cost.

First, a big tip to avoid blisters: Make certain your shoes fit properly. It is best to try shoes on mid-afternoon, about 3 p.m., when feet are slightly swollen. I also like to rub a beeswax candle along the inside of my strappy shoes to keep the friction down and my feet dancing.

Step 1 (for an at-home foot facial): Soak feet in a nice warm tub or bowl, then exfoliate to remove calluses. How? First massage an exfoliation paste onto your feet and leave for 10 minutes. [Combine: 1/2 cup kosher salt (very coarse), 1 Tablespoon Epsom salt, 1 Tablespoon tea tree oil, 2 Tablespoons mineral oil and 1 Tablespoon sodium bicarbonate in to a paste.] Wash off and use a pumice stone to rub the callused area. Next, apply glycolic pads (you can use brands such as Stridex, which contain 20 to 30 percent glycolic acid) and leave on for a few minutes, then rinse.

If you were getting a professional foot facial at the spa, Step 2 would be to use microdermabrasion (a sandblasting machine that is used to blast off hard skin), which is also done in facials.

Step 2 (at home): Moisturize those tootsies with a copper-based cream that promotes the growth of collagen, which fills in fissures in the skin.

Step 3: Use a foot mask that you can apply and wash off after five minutes. I like to wrap my feet up in warm towels before I rinse off the mask.

Step 4: Reflexology (optional) is a type of massage that’s used to relax the foot and feels wonderful. Again, moisturize your feet. You can also roll a few golf balls under your feet (while sitting) to get a massage effect. (Keep a couple in your desk for quick relaxation at work.)

Additional foot facial procedures:
Yellow Toes? Solution: nail whitening. This procedure is similar to teeth whitening and involves bleaching and filing the toenails. Salons use sodium hypochloride, which is similar to Clorox bleach At-Home Method: Mix one cap of bleach with one cup of water. Brush on to your nails with a toothbrush.

Laser Procedures: Laser procedures are used to treat unsightly veins and remove scars and marks.

A little pampering goes a long way to give you beautiful feet for the next big fête!

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