Beauty Cures For Summertime City Foot

When I think about my feet and beauty products, contrary to what every beauty article about feet and beauty would have you believe, I am not considering preparing them for sandal season. My toes are not going to be the stars of a print ad anytime soon. They don't need to be up to foot-model standards — I just don't want them to look Hobbit-esque (sorry, Frodo).
No, my big issues can be summed up in three words: Summertime City Foot. This malady, coined by our own Kelsey Miller, best describes the general grossness one's feet gets coated in when wearing open-toe shoes in an urban environment. If you've ever removed your flip-flops to find you have an unidentified black-grime imprint, you have been a victim of Summertime City Foot.
But, it's not just gross god-knows-what stuff coating your foot that typify this illness. There's also the ever popular dirt callous (when your heel and pads of your feet are calloused, but also weirdly stained a brownish color that will not wash away), hot tingle (the horrible aching, lingering burning sensation when you walk too far in flimsy sandals all day), slip 'n' slide skin (when your feet are so sweaty you start slipping out of your strappy sandals), and, my favorite, under-the-nail hitchhikers (gunk that gets wedged up under your nails and will not come out). Nice visuals I've painted for you there, huh?
As someone with some severe foot issues — as in, I can't stand bare feet or feeling like there's any kind of grit or dirt on them — I've spent years tackling this predicament with laser focus. I'm the kind of girl who washes my feet every night when I get home because the thought of climbing into bed with unwashed feet gives me the heebie jeebies. You better believe I've done my research.
Ahead, my fail-safe routine for making your feet feel clean, squeaky fresh, and de-gunked. It might seem a little intensive, but I've seen what people do to and on NYC sidewalks — if I could dip my feet in bleach and scrub under the skin each night, I would. This is the next best thing.
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Photo: Via Jasmine Seven.
First, and most importantly, feet wipes. Because when you can actually see your feet turning a different color before your eyes, you do not want to wait until you get home to deal with that. Or, at least, this germaphobe doesn't.

My favorite are these minty-fresh ones from Jasmine Seven. They are anti-bacterial and alcohol-free, so they clean without drying out your skin. They also are infused with aloe and vitamin E for foot-softening benefits. Best of all, they dry to a powdery, not sticky finish. I keep a pack of these in my purse so I have them handy for whenever I feel the need to de-gross my feet.
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This is another great product for when you don't have time or the ability to wash. Especially good for when you're dealing with stinky, sweaty feet, a few spritzes of this rosemary-and-mint herbal potion will cool your tired toes, and more importantly, deodorize. Because nothing ruins an impromptu barefoot frolic quite like stanky foot.
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Photo: Via Method.
Now, once I'm home, I immediately pop my feet into the tub and wash, wash, wash. Since this is a pretty regular occurrence for me, I like to have a body wash on hand that feels nice, but doesn't cost a fortune. Method's Orange Ginger Sorbet Body Wash is my new go-to — I love the citrusy, slightly spicy scent, and it makes my skin feel soft and clean.
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Photo: Via Spongelle.
Ah, dirt callous. Gross, and a big pain in the ass to get rid off. I'm not one for the callous grater method (it looks too much like a hard-cheese grater, and that just gives me all kinds of mixed feelings when I look at Parmesan). Instead, I use this kind of weird, kind of awesome loofah-esque soap from Spongelle.

There's a soft side for just straight up cleaning, and a buffing side to help exfoliate off that worked in dirt (or whatever the hell that brown stuff is — best not to think too hard about that). It's got macadamia oil to really get in there and penetrate into the callous, plus sea kelp to work out any lingering odor. Isn't foot care sexy?
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Photo: Via Sephora.
Now, the secret to getting out unidentified specks of stuff (for lack of a better word/general wish to continue to stay oblivious for the sake of my sanity) is a combo of the right tools and a little methodology.

I start off by soaking my feet in a bath of warm water and Epsom salts. After 10 minutes, when my skin feels nice and soft, I'll remove, towel dry them off, and then pick up this handy instrument. In my experience, your fingernails just cannot dig that dirt, dead skin, etc. out from under your toenails quite like a nail cleaner tool. This one is dual-ended, with a cuticle pusher on one side for when you're feeling ambitious.
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Photo: Via Kneipp.
Once your feet are clean, it's time to tackle the bigger issues. If your callouses are starting to get out of control, this salve from Kneipp will get the job done. It has 25% urea, which helps dissolve that tough skin, but is also formulated with calendula, panthenol, allantoin, and jojoba oil to hydrate skin as well. Seven days later, you'll see a big difference in those callouses, promise.
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Photo: Via L'Occitane.
I first tried this Ice Gel from L'Occitane after a particularly epic (and unplanned) stroll in the park with my Schnoodle, Elly. I had thought it was going to be a quick walk, so I had just thrown on some flip-flops, but she had a different idea in mind, and you don't say no to this face.

Needless to say, when I finally got back home, my dogs were barking (no, not the literal one). I had just received this product to test, so I slathered it on in an effort to calm my aching feet. A few minutes later, they felt significantly cooler, calmer, and less ouch. The clincher here is the rollerball applicator, which functions as a massager. The feel of that kneading action on my battered arches was downright blissful.
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Photo: Via Lather.
I don't like wearing lotion on my feet during the day, no matter the season — lotioned feet tend to pick up an alarming amount of stowaways, from lint to sidewalk grime. So, I save my hydrating for bedtime, when I don't have to worry about things sticking to my toes.

This lavender and eucalyptus cream pulls double-duty by soothing tired feet and boosting circulation, as well as softening and hydrating skin. Plus, the scent of soothing and subtly medicinal herbal notes is oddly comforting, especially after seeing everything that came off your feet during your cleaning session.
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Photo: Via Baby Foot.
This is a bonus round for the super-serious foot rehabbers out there. These little plastic booties are filled with a potent blend of glycolic, malic, and lactic acids. Leave them on for 20 to 30 minutes (do not attempt to try and walk in these — I learned that the hard way and ended up wiping out and almost dislocating my knee. I definitely did not need a snack as badly as I thought I did at the time). Remove.

Now, at first glance, your feet will look exactly the same and you'l be pissed off you spent money on this crackpot, dud of a beauty treatment. Wait a few days and then watch in wonder/horror as your feet begin to molt. I mean that literally — giant sheets of dead skin will just start falling off your feet. Underneath you'll find soft, pristine, callous-free skin. It is absolute magic — and really, really disturbing.
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