How I Keep My Feet Summer Ready For the Whole Season and Beyond

I'll be wearing sandals 'til September.

How I Keep My Feet Summer Ready
Photo: Getty Images

Once summer rolls around, it's pretty routine to head to your go-to nail salon for a good pedicure — especially if you're someone who prefers to wear sandals during the warm-weather months.

But as most of us know, a single pedi isn't enough to get you from June through September. So, if you want consistently smooth feet and perfectly filed toenails for the season, you'll need a little maintenance here and there. And believe me, I know from first-hand experience.

Having head-to-toe soft skin is one of my top aesthetic priorities. As such, figuring out everything from how to get rid of calluses on my feet to the best way to cut and file my toenails has always been important. But after visiting a few podiatrists for professional treatments while doing research for this story, I realized foot care goes way beyond just how they look.

"It's important to take care of our feet, support our feet, and make sure they are looking and feeling the best," says Dr. Brad Schaeffer, a board-certified foot surgeon at Sole Podiatry NYC and star of TLC's My Feet Are Killing Me.

That said, I'm ready to share all the foot care secrets I've learned both on my own and from the pros over the years. Discover how I get and keep my feet summer-ready for sandal season and beyond, ahead.

Where Do I Start In My Foot Care Journey?

It all depends on the current state of your feet. But generally speaking, I like starting with a good foot overhaul at the beginning of summer — both for aesthetic and health purposes. For me, that meant going to Medi Pedi in New York City for a medical pedicure.

During my visit, Marcela Correa — owner, licensed professional medical pedicurist, and the sweetest woman ever — started by removing my polish, then began examining my feet; checking everything from my toenails to my foot's bone structure. Once we were in the clear, she removed every single callus from my foot, pushed back my cuticles, and even disinfected my sandals as the appointment went on. By the end, I was left with baby-soft feet and perfectly shaped toenails.

The appointment only took around 30 minutes since I don't have any major foot concerns. However, if you're someone with athlete's foot, corns, major calluses, cracked heels, ingrown nails, or have noticed nail fungus or discoloration developing, Correa can address each ailment during your appointment — with no judgment.

You can also opt to make an appointment with a podiatrist.

I went to see Dr. Suzanne Levine, a leading aesthetic podiatrist, podiatric foot surgeon, and founder of Millennium Podiatry, based in New York City, to experience her foot facial treatment.

The MD started by washing my feet with her signature green tea cleanser. Next, she applied 10% glycolic acid to any hard skin to help promote gentle exfoliation — but she can up the dosage for heavier calluses. Once the peel was removed, Dr. Levine applied a generous amount of Footlogix Cracked Heel Formula, then used a nano-current machine, called the Perfector Lift to help the skin fully absorb the cream.

"[The machine] vasodilates — widens the blood vessels thereby increasing blood flow — which makes the skin more porous," she explains.

After about 10 to 15 minutes, it's time for a foot mask, with star ingredients like oyster shell, sea salt, salicylic acid, and of course, urea. "The skin on the foot has a lot of keratin, and urea breaks [it down]," says the MD.

Next up is the Harmony laser that can be used to address redness or discoloration on the feet. Once that's done, it's time for the best and final part: a foot massage.

VIDEO: Here's Why Getting a Gel Pedicure Is Actually Worth It

How Often Should I Be Getting Pedicures?

In the summertime, I typically opt for a bi-weekly pedicure, then go once a month during the colder months while still keeping up with my at-home routine.

However, keep in mind that the frequency at which you get pedicures will vary from person to person, but the most important thing is to make sure you are going to a clean establishment where tubs and tools are properly disinfected to avoid cross-contamination and potential infections.

What Are the Best Options for At-Home Foot Maintenance?

Much like your face, it's good to have a skincare regimen for your feet. On most days, I start by using a glass foot file in the shower.

After I've rinsed off and my feet have been soaking for at least the past 15 minutes, I take a moment and gently exfoliate my heels and any other areas that are prone to calluses. And while you technically could use a callus shaver at home, it's best to leave sharp tools to the professionals.

"I always suggest a pumice stone or foot file," Dr. Schaeffer shares. "These are two of the better tools anyone can safely use at home over a callus shaver. I think the biggest concern when trying to mend those painful and unsightly calluses is causing a cut in the skin. A small cut or a crack in the skin on your feet can quickly lead to bigger problems for your foot — an infection being one of them."

I typically file my feet around two to three times a week to ensure the skin stays smooth in-between pedicures. Again, the frequency will vary for everyone, but it's important to make sure you don't overdo it — even if you're only using a gentle tool.

"Some people go overboard on taking care of their calluses and it can lead to sores and ulcers," Dr. Schaeffer warns. It's also important to note that if you have diabetes you should make regular visits to your podiatrist for callus removal.

Once I'm out of the shower, I dry off using a towel and immediately slather my feet with lotion — but one that's specific for that area of the body. Dr. Scholl's Ultra Hydrating Foot Cream has become my go-to option. A little goes a long way and it keeps my feet soft and moisturized all day long.

When it comes down to nails, I typically leave this up to whoever is doing my pedicure for the sake of my back (I have long legs and a long torso, so it's a lot of bending over to get to my feet). However, when I do work on my toenails, I always, always, always reach for Tweezerman's Professional Nail Files and Rockhard Cuticle Nipper that I don't actually use for my cuticles, but rather to make sure I can get to the corners of my toenails to avoid the formation of ingrown nails.

What Else Do I Need to Know About Foot Care?

Beyond just the aesthetics of feet, making sure they're in good health and physically supported is paramount.

"I tell my patients all the time about proper insoles, cushioning, and stretching techniques to help their feet for the long-term," says Dr. Schaeffer.

That said, I am the proud owner of not one, not two, but three pairs of Birkenstocks sandals to help support my feet. One pair I use as house slippers, another is for outdoors, and I have the Arizona Shearling shoes for when the weather gets a little more chilly. However, I admittedly don't wear them every time I leave the house and often opt for strappy sandals or other flat shoes, which aren't the best when it comes to arch support and cushioning.

"A lot of sandals are flat and can cause the foot to have different pressure points that they usually do not have in sneakers," Dr. Schaeffer explains. "When walking with flip-flops, our toes tend to crunch up and grip the ground when we walk because they are not supported properly."

To help alleviate pressure, I've started using Dr. Levine's Stiletto Rx gel pads to support my arches. What I love most about these is that you can stick them in any type of shoe, including sandals, and they've truly made a world of difference.

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