Sunday, March 18, 2012

Back to Nature (Sort Of) - Part Two

Welcome, all, to the second installation of my restoration process. Today, I'm focusing on the feet.

Now, I will first say that my feet aren't nasty. I can go barefoot with minimal shame, and I can't find a nail tech who gives a better pedicure than me. That said...I spent winter wearing socks, and not really worrying about my feet. Toenails got a little stained, acquired a few callouses, skin a little dry. No biggie.

Sandal season, however, is upon us, so I am prepping my toes for display.

Considering the last time I got a pedicure, the woman pampering my feet was asking my advice, I felt like this is something I should share to the masses. I see way too many nasty cracked feet in the summer, and I feel like this post counts toward serving the community at large. So please, please share this link if you know one of those women (or men) who wear flip flops with gnarly feet.

I'm not showing my toes on the interwebs until my project is complete, but here is my process:

1. Soak your feet. This is the most crucial step. If you skip it, the rest will be useless. You can soak in the bath, or just soak your feet in the bath. I personally use my kitchen sink, since I can sit on the counter and reach my feet without actually being in the water. You can use a foot soak if you want. I personally use a mild soap like Johnson's Baby Wash or even my Black African Soap. I've also been putting about 1/3 cup of peroxide in the water, too, to help whiten and disinfect my toes. Soak about five to ten minutes, depending on how rough your skin is.

2. Scrub your feet. I've been using Qtica's Lemon Dream Sugar Scrub, since I've been spending WAY too much money on polish lately and they send it free with larger orders. I also posted a recipe for a great, but cheap and easy sugar scrub last summer. Here's the trick: Don't rinse it off yet.

3. Scrub your feet even more. I use a pumice sponge (softer and more foamy feeling than a pumice stone), but if you have a foot file or stiff brush, that will work, too. Scrubbing your already-scrubbed feet will make your skin that much smoother.

4. Rinse and brush. I use a nail brush to get the sugar scrub from between my toes, but a toothbrush or washcloth will work, too.

5. Dig up the dirt. Sounds gross, but stuff gets under your toenails when you're rocking sandals outside. Even lint from inside your socks get stuck in places, and if it doesn't get cleaned out, you can run the risk of infections, or just gross-looking feet. Orange sticks will work quite well. If needed, this a good time for cuticle remover.

6. Trim. Now that the nails are soft, trim them to desired length. Straight lines help prevent ingrown toenails, which I can assure you, are not fun.

7. File and buff. I use a regular nail file first to shape and smooth the edges of my toenails to prevent them from snagging on sheets and socks. Then, I use a buffing block to smooth the surface of my toenails. The smooth surface makes your polish look glassy, or if you go au natural, your toes just look nice and shiny and healthy.

8. Brush again. This time, just to get any filings off of your toenails.

9. Kill the germs. If you go to the gym, the pool or outside the sterile safety of your bathroom, you are in danger of getting athlete's foot or some other germy things. I de-germify my toes with Barielle Maximum Strength Fungus RX. Tea tree oil is also a natural anti-fungal agent. This step is optional, but not a bad idea.

10. Strengthen. I use Hard as Hoof to strengthen my nails, but if you prefer, a strengthening base coat like Julep Nail Therapy will work. Something to nourish your nails is the end goal.

11. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. I got some great mineral foot cream from Ahava in a Birchbox a few months ago. I like that it's not quite as oily as some others. Any Body Butter from The Body Shop is a good choice, too. Again, the goal is to keep your newly soft feet feeling smooth.

12. Socks. If possible, cover your silky smooth feet to keep that moisture trapped on the feet. I do this overnight so can keep them all clean and shiny and the lotion will be fully absorbed before I have to wear shoes again.

13. Lucky number 13 is my favorite: POLISH! Pick something pretty and bright and flaunt your newly fabulous feet!

There you have it, folks. My secrets have been revealed.

Stay tuned for the next episode: Trying to lighten your hair back to your natural (ish) color without spending hundreds for someone else to fry your hair.

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