10 Easy Steps To Summer-Ready Feet

From cracked heels to flip-flop-induced injuries, summer is an absolute minefield for the feet. Make sure your toenails are in tip-top condition and your paws are pavement-proof with our 10-step, expert guide to summer-ready feet.

The warmer months may already be upon us, but we've still got a long way to go before boot season, and plenty of time to hit refresh.
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Step 1: Exfoliate.
Exfoliating your feet at least once a week will keep them looking and feeling smoother. Dry skin is the main cause of cracked heels, calluses, and other discomforts, so try using a non-drying foot scrub twice-weekly to banish dryness. Apply it directly to dry skin, massage in, and remove with a hot, moist towel before moisturizing.

Tip: Look for this special ingredient in your products: “Glycolic acid is a natural exfoliator found in sugar cane and grape,” says Dave Wain, MD, a podiatrist at Carnation Footcare. “It is a favorite among beauty experts, not only for its exfoliating effects, but also its incredible anti-aging benefits.”

Cowshed On the Hoof Foot Scrub, $32, available at Cowshed.
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Step 2: Go easy on the foot soak.
It might feel soothing, but unless you’re having a professional treatment, avoid over-soaking your feet, which could dry out your skin further.

“Water not only masks the area to be treated but, if you're also prone to cracks opening, the skin is weakened by bathing them and the cracks are much more likely to open,” Margaret Dabbs, pioneer of the legendary medical pedicure, tells us. If you are going the soak route, she notes that it's essential to file your feet before bathing them in water.

Margaret Dabbs 3-Step Kit, $120, available at Margaret Dabbs.
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Step 3: Moisturize.
“Daily moisturizing will help to improve the condition of the skin, including cracks, calluses, blisters, broken skin, and discolored, damaged nails,” says Dabbs. Apply a cream to your feet whenever you get out of the bath or shower to retain the moisture. Just remember to put on your slippers so you don’t wipe out completely.

Another thing to keep in mind: “Always ensure the moisturizer is formulated for feet, and avoid body products,” Dabbs says. “These won't work, as the skin of the feet is 12 times thicker than the rest of the body.”

Elemis Treat Your Feet Foot Cream, $32, available at Nordstrom.
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Step 4: Cure cracked heels.
“For most people, cracked heels are a nuisance and can look cosmetically unattractive but, if left unattended, they can develop into a more serious problem,” Dr. Wain tells us. “The condition can be easily remedied with Carnation’s Cracked Heel Cream, which rehydrates and rejuvenates feet.”

You can also consider keeping your heels better protected in supportive footwear. “The use of a shock-absorbing heel pad and avoiding open-back shoes will also help,” Dr. Wain advises.

Dr. Scholl's Gel Heel Cushions, $5.99, available at Drugstore.com.
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Step 5: Banish bunions (or, ease the pain…).
Bunions — inflamed fluid sacs that form on the side of the foot near the big toe — can be caused by wearing pinched, pointed shoes, but they’re often hereditary, too.

You can invest in bunion pads or gel protectors to ease discomfort, but to see longer-term results, you may need surgery or laser therapy. "We use lower laser therapy to help ease the inflammation and pain of the joint, and acupuncture to keep the bone and joint mobilized,” Dabbs says.

In the meantime, stick to a heel height of no more than one-and-a-half inches (or flats). Dabbs also suggests topically applying emu oil to reduce joint inflammation.

Carnation Bunion Gel Protectors, $11.39, available at Amazon.
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Step 6: Eat your way to pretty feet.
Foods that are too high in salt and sugar can cause your feet to swell. If you’ve got a long flight ahead of you, drink plenty of water (with lemon, if available) to reduce bloating and ensure you can step straight off the plane and onto the beach with flip-flop-ready feet.

S'well Galaxy Collection Neptune Stainless Steel Water Bottle, $35, available at Nordstrom.
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Step 7: Trim your toenails.
“Cut your toenails either straight across or in a gentle curve that follows the shape of your toe," says Dr. Wain. "Do not cut down the sides of your nail.” He goes on to explain that doing so could make your feet more susceptible to fungal infections.

“It’s important that your nail beds and cuticles stay hydrated, as this will keep them looking healthy and will in turn promote strong nails,” says Dabbs. “Try and have some paint-free days — it's good to give the nails a rest from polish.” She recommends using her Nourishing Nail & Cuticle Serum, and filing nails with a crystal nail file to keep them in tip-top condition.

Margaret Dabbs Crystal Nail File, $22, available at Margaret Dabbs.
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Step 8: Keep blisters at bay.
Always try and break in any new or strappy sandals for a couple of hours at a time in the weeks leading up to your vacation, or any occasion you expect to wear them all day, to prevent blisters. If a blister does pop up, make sure to keep it clean and dry, and cover it with Compeed until it's healed.

Compeed Blister Cushions Extreme, $7.99, available at Walgreens.
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Step 9: Don’t forget your SPF.
Your toenails are made of protein and are as vulnerable to sunburn as your skin. Friendly reminder to always reapply sunscreen when you take off your sandals or flip-flops and when hitting the beach.

Ultrasun Super Sensitive Sun Lotion, $44.41, available at Amazon.

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Step 10: And remember, treat your feet with the special care they need.
Your feet need special attention. Dabbs advises treating yourself to a professional pedicure up to three months before your summer getaway, and following your visit with regular at-home care. This Clarisonic product is made specifically for feet and is guaranteed to keep your paws in prime summer shape.

Clarisonic Pedi Sonic Foot Transformation, $125.17, available at Drugstore.com.
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