Madonna's multiple style reinventions have got nothing on the rebirth of our feet every single spring. After months of being cocooned by nylon of the highest denier count and disregarded by any skin maintenance routine, our hooves are often unveiled for the new season with as much embarrassment as they have hard skin.
Winter feet, as we shall call them, can be uncomfortable, unsightly, and sometimes even painful. "We hide our feet during winter in a bid to keep them warm, which inevitably leads to skin dehydration and cracking, and when the cold temperatures do get to them, it can result in a loss of circulation," explains podiatrist and Carnation Footcare spokesperson, Michael Ratcliffe.
No wonder our poor tootsies are such a state come spring. Here's how to whip them into shape for the new season and beyond...
Do one, hard skin
It's the most obvious downfall of 'winter feet' and the biggest focus of most people come sandal weather – hard, calloused skin. "It's actually the result of the skin's reaction to pressure, a process called hyperkeratosis, where it thickens after periods of sustained pressure", explains Michael. So your attack on hard skin should take a two-pronged approach. Reduce pressure placed on the feet by buying correctly-fitting shoes (I KNOW they're beautiful but they're two sizes too small, so deal with it) and use cushioning insoles like Carnation Footcare Advanced Pressure Relief Insoles. The second step is all about hydration. Choose moisturizers containing urea and/or glycolic or salicylic acid and apply them daily to give the skin a serious moisture boost and soften calluses until they disappear. Try Champneys Cracked Heal Balm or Bliss Foot Patrol.
The nasty side of nails
There'll be no relaxing pedicures if your nails aren't in peak condition so fix your attention on them, stat. "The most common condition I see come springtime is fungal nail infection, which makes the nail thick, brittle and discoloured." Ask your pharmacist to recommend anti-fungal medication to clear up the worst of the symptoms and take care when cutting your toenails that you never cut down the sides of the nail, as this can encourage fungal spores and ingrown toenails – instead, cut straight across the tip or in a curve that follows the natural curve of your toe.
Sack off excess sweating
There's a reason why the underside of our feet can suddenly as slippery as an oil slick when hotter weather comes around. "The soles of the feet contain more sweat glands than any other part of the body, including the armpits,' says Michael. Sweating occurs naturally to help regulate the body' temperature and keep the skin supple, but it can leave you sliding around in your, erm, sliders. So how to keep dry, and comfortable, heading into summer? Michael recommends using a foot antiperspirant, such as Certain Dri roll-on anti-perspirant, to reduce sweating and choose well-fitting shoes (that aren't made of plastic) to keep your feet aerated and dry. Rinse your feet daily with a mild soap to make sure the sweat doesn't mix with bacteria and cause foot odour, and we like to moisturise with a cooling foot cream afterwards, like the new Mary Kay Mint Bliss Lotion.
Pretty them up
Now for the fun part! The perennial nudes, reds and corals are always going to be popular in spring but why not follow the big brands this season and embrace glittering metallic shades on your toes. We're all about Illamasqua Once Collection in Melange and Nars Hardwired in Sherwood. If you're lucky enough to be heading off on a spring holiday, remember that your choice of pedicure hue can naturally crank up your tan factor. Bright pinks and oranges flatter every shade of bronzed skin, as do those previously mentioned metallics. And just like your manicure, a stellar top coat is the key to glossy nails so make sure whatever hue and finish you go for, you finish off with Leighton Denny Crystal Finish.
More brilliant spring nail colours below: