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How to Moisturize Your Feet

Beautiful Skin Image Gallery Moisturize feet to prevent dryness, itching and cracking. See more pictures of ways to get beautiful skin.
©iStockphoto.com/Carlos Gawronski

The sun is shining and spring is in the air. It's time to toss those snow boots, slip on your sandals and show off your toes. If the thought of bearing your soles in public fills you with dread, you're not alone. Winter's chill takes a toll on just about everyone's skin. Even when your feet are tucked away in wooly socks, they can still be parched from the dry, cold air. And summer's not much better: While you're hoofing it around in sandals, your feet can really take a beating.

It's not surprising that weather and wear can take such a toll on your soles. Feet have fewer oil glands than other parts of the body, which makes them especially susceptible to dry air. The problem only gets worse with age. Cells reproduce more slowly the older you are, so it takes longer for dry, dead skin to be replaced [source: George].

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While a spa pedicure may offer relief for your tattered tootsies, it can do some serious damage to your bank account. Thankfully, there are a number of easy, effective home remedies to soothe your feet or help keep your toes tip top between pedicures.

Start at the drugstore, where you can find products such as pumice stones for buffing away dry, dead skin and deep-moisture foot creams [sources: Jacob, Guglielmetti]. There are also prescription foot creams available, but these will require a visit to your dermatologist [source: George].

Toenails and cuticles need attention, too. Rubbing toenails with Vaseline before bed every night will soften them up and make trimming easier. For dry cuticles, use cuticle oil at least every two weeks and soak your feet in warm water to loosen cuticles from nails [source: George].

If you take care of your feet throughout the doldrums of winter and the sandal season of summer, you can avoid skin that gets so dry it cracks. But if the damage is already done, read on to learn how to heal cracks and soothe your feet to their sandal-ready best.

Cracked feet aren't just an eyesore; they can also be painful [source: George]. But don't despair! Treat them right, and rest assured, your feet will be smooth, supple and ready for your best summer shoes in no time.

To help heal your heels, start by using a pumice stone to file dry skin while you're in the shower, where the warm water helps soften your skin and slough the dead skin away. Repeat this treatment several times a week. As your skin becomes softer, you'll be able to use your pumice stone less often [source: Guglielmetti].

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Apply a foot cream as soon as you get out of the shower, when the bottoms of your feet are still a little bit damp. Look for a foot cream that contains salicylic acid, lactic acid or urea -- all of which work great on super-dry skin [source: Guglielmetti]. Some creams have extra ingredients such as shea butter, beeswax or coconut oil that boost the moisturizing effect. When your feet are cracked, you'll want to use the foot cream twice a day. Just be sure to wash your feet first and apply the cream immediately after [sources: Guglielmetti, George].

Once you've closed up those cracks and returned your feet to baby-softness, you can maintain your supple soles by using a few professional pedicure tricks at home skin. Start by taking your feet for a regular soak -- every week or every other week will do. Create a footbath by adding Epsom salt to a bowl of warm water, and soak your feet for several minutes to soften your skin. After your footbath, attend to any calluses or rough spots with a pumice stone. But be careful not to rub too hard -- you don't want to accidentally remove too much of the callus and damage the tender skin below. And don't be tempted to use a razor or anything sharp in place of a pumice stone -- nicks or cuts in the skin can easily become infected [source: George].

Finally, if you really want to pamper your feet, consider giving them spa-grade treatment -- a mask. Simply substitute a facial mask cream for your usual foot cream. After you rub the facial mask on your feet, wrap them in plastic wrap or a towel. Relax for about five minutes. When you're done, you'll have spa-quality feet for a fraction of the cost [source: Matlin].

For even more tips and tricks, follow the links on the next page.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

Sources

  • George, Rebekah. "For Feet's Sake." Prevention Magazine. July 19, 2008. (Accessed 9/6/2009)http://www.prevention.com/cda/article/for-feet-s-sake/1d0358dda8b3b110VgnVCM10000013281eac____/lifelong.beauty/anti.aging.arsenal/skin.care
  • George, Rebekah. "Smooth Summer Skin."Prevention Magazine. June 2, 2006. (Accessed 9/6/2009)http://www.prevention.com/cda/article/smooth-summer-skin/19acd08f88803110VgnVCM20000012281eac____/lifelong.beauty/anti.aging.arsenal/products
  • Guglielmetti, Petra. "Buh Bye, Ugly Feet: Meet My New Pedi Secret." Glamour Magazine. October 14, 2008. (Accessed 9/6/2009)http://www.glamour.com/beauty/blogs/girls-in-the-beauty-department/2008/10/a-secret-to-prettier-feet.html
  • Jacob, Stephanie Tweito. "Top Foot-Smoothers." Allure Magazine. July 21, 2009. (Accessed 9/6/2009)http://www.allure.com/beauty/blogs/reporter/2009/07/top-footsmoothers.html
  • Matlin, Jessica. "Save Money: Do Your Own Toes With This At-Home Pedicure." Allure Magazine. October 13, 2008. (Accessed 9/6/2009)http://www.allure.com/beauty/blogs/reporter/2008/10/save-money-do-your-own-toes-wi.html
  • Matlin, Jessica. "The Three Commandments of DIY Pedis." Allure Magazine. February 4, 2009. (Accessed 9/7/2009)http://www.allure.com/beauty/blogs/reporter/2009/02/three-commandments-diy-pedis.html

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