More Than A Beauty Footnote

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This article has been reproduced by kind permission of The Mail on Sunday YOU Magazine.

Acquiring beach-glamorous feet isn’t just about vanity. Remember how much time you spend working them – literally – into the ground. With every step you take, you feet have to absorb the stress of up to twice your body weight so it’s no wonder that eight out of ten people suffer from foot problems.

Spend a little time, a little money, keeping them in good shape, and they will carry you happily around, looking and feeling great. Neglect them – and not only will they look unattractive but you’re storing up problems both short and long term. Maintaining your feet isn’t rocket science and it doesn’t take much time – unless you’re starting from seriously untended when you will need to invest a bit more at the beginning.

The key is daily care, says Margaret Dabbs – the podiatrist whose London salons are a revelation in feet treats(margaretdabbs.co.uk).

Here’s the plan:

For unloved feet, please go and see a qualified podiatrist (feetforlife.org) and get them checked over first. In fact, everyone should do this please, every two to three months in an ideal world (and definitely if you have any problems such as corns and callouses), but at least twice yearly.

Hydration, hydration, hydration! The biggest problem Margaret sees is dehydrated feet. So moisturise daily with an intensive, non-greasy foot moisturiser after bathing, massaging it in firmly, especially on hard skin area to break down any compacted skin. (Try Eucerin Dry Skin Intensive Foot Cream, £10.82 for 100ml, which is also suitable for diabetics.)

Exfoliate beforehand, daily if possible but twice a week is good too (try a dedicated foot scrub, eg Botanicals Natural Foot Scrub, £12.50 for 75g, from botanicals.co.uk, Exfoliating Foot Mousse by Margaret Dabbs, £15 for 100ml from Victoria Health – or your usual body exfoliator.)

Use a foot buffer on dry feet once or twice a week, not more as that can result in a build-up of more hard skin. I use Boots Pharmaceuticals Smoothing Foot File, currently £4.07 from boots.com

For thickened and/or calloused skin, Margaret says ‘don’t be tempted to use a balm: it will just sit on the surface, improving the appearance briefly but longer term will increase the problem’. Do use an intensive foot oil such as Margaret’s own Intensive Treatment Foot Oil, £20 for 100ml, from Victoria Health.

Cut toenails straight across, and buff nails with a buffing block (Boots 4 Way Buffer Block, £2.25) to remove staining and build-up. Then apply a base coat, eg Nail Magic, from Victoria Health, before a fab polish.

Margaret’s secret is to use Intensive Treatment Foot Oil (£20 for 100ml) daily around the cuticles of your toenails to ‘lift’ the varnish, making it look fresh as paint. (Nails Inc Vitamin E Oil Pen, £12, nailsinc.com, makes it easy to treat fingernails as well as toes, double duty beauty!)

Sandal savvy: flip-flops are beachwear only, as they offer little support and can exacerbate any foot weakness, says Margaret Dabbs. But our favourite FitFlops help to maintain posture, as well as support the arches of the feet, and the gorgeous summer range includes two ‘slide’ styles (ie no thongs), Positano, £65, and Gogh, £70. FitFlop.com, tel: 0845 359 9884).

Avoid rubber shoes if you have athlete’s foot or your feet are sweat-prone. And wear socks with closed canvas shoes, rather than bare feet as that can cause skin problems including cracked skin.

For blisters, carry Compeed Blister Plasters, from £4, with you at all times.

An easy-sneazy way to reduce pollen

My colleague Victoria was despairing of finding a natural solution to her seven year-old daughter’s allergy to dust and pollen. ‘We have anti-allergy bedlinen, and a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter but it was impossible to keep on top of all the dust. With the pollen season in full swing too, my daughter was kept awake by her itchy eyes and nose.’ The situation changed when they tried the Oreck Air 600, an air purifier the size of a video recorder that claims to deep-clean the air in a large bedroom in ten minutes, substantially reducing airborne allergens such as dust, pollen and pet dander. ‘We now blast her room for 30 minutes each evening and she says there’s no overnight itching so she gets a good night’s sleep. It makes no more noise than a desk fan, uses the same electricity as a 100 watt bulb, plus it’s easy to move around when we want to deep-clean other rooms.’ £239.95 from Oreck.co.uk

Website of the week: bikeweek.co.uk

Team Green Britain Bike Week aims to get more people cycling more often. Lots of fun events, including safety training, plus ‘Britain’s Biggest Bike Fix’ – offering ‘Dr Bike’ services locally so your bike can get a health check. If you love your brain, please remember to wear a properly fitted helmet: a recommended brand is Nutcase, visit nutcase-europe.com.

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