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For feet’s sake

Get your feet ready for spring with these tips on how to hydrate, soften and buff, from MiNDFOOD.

A pretty nail polish goes a long way toward making feet look younger. But with each passing year, dryness, calluses, and discoloration seem to get a little worse. These simple solutions undo life’s wear and tear to keep feet beautiful year-round.

DRYNESS

Too few oil glands leave feet prone to dryness; with age, cell turnover slows, making the problem worse.

FIX IT

Hydrate daily:

Restore softness by applying foot cream immediately after bathing, while skin is still wet. “These formulas are heavier than body lotions so they seep into thicker skin,” says Stuart Mogul, DPM, a podiatrist in New York City.

For maximum benefits, look for one that also contains exfoliators such as lactic acid to improve penetration of hydrators like glycerin.

Get a prescription:

If skin is extremely rough, see your dermatologist for an prescription lotion such as Keralac, which contains higher doses of healing ingredients.

Dry between toes after applying:

Moisture collects there, encouraging bacterial growth.

THICK TOENAILS

Unlike fingernails, which thin with age, toenails become harder and thicker due to constant pressure from shoes.

FIX IT

Coat nails nightly with Vaseline:

“Petrolatum makes them softer and easier to trim,” says Mary P. Lupo, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University.

Clip and file correctly:

To eliminate splits and the risk of in growns, trim nails into a square shape using a clipper. Aim to make them even with the tips of your toes, and smooth rough edges by filing lightly in long strokes using a fine-grade emery board.

OVERGROWN CUTICLES

Excess skin builds up over time and attaches to the nail.

FIX IT

Soften cuticles every two weeks:

Rub on cuticle oil and immerse feet in warm water for 10 minutes to loosen skin. Alternatively, apply a cuticle remover; most contain allantoin, an ingredient that softens dead skin, making it easier to take off.

Push back and trim:

Gently ease cuticles off the nail with an orangewood stick, and snip hangnails using a nipper.

CALLUSES

These thick and hardened areas of skin form as a result of constant pressure and friction; genetics also plays a role.

FIX IT

Exfoliate daily:

Use a foot file or pumice stone in the shower to buff away dead cells. “Water softens skin, making it easier to remove,” explains Natasha Kurpas, a manicurist at the Rita Hazan Salon in NYC.

Also, avoid overzealous sloughing (calluses protect feet, so don’t file them down entirely) and razors, which can cut skin and lead to infection.

YELLOWING NAILS

This discoloration is usually residual staining from red or darker polishes.

FIX IT

Buff superficial stains:

Lightly filing nails erases surface marks.

Bleach nails:

Remove stubborn stains with weekly use of a nail brightener, which contains citric acid to fade discolouration. Or use the natural citric acid from a lemon, says Ji Baek, founder of Rescue Beauty Lounge in NYC and author of Rescue Your Nails.

Use a base coat:

Applying this clear polish before painting nails creates a stain-fighting barrier.

Alternate shades:

If you wear dark hues, go lighter every three weeks.

See your doctor:

Persistent yellowing could be a sign of health problems.

HEALTHY PRO PEDICURE HABITS

Soak smarter:

To minimise your risk of infection, book a morning appointment. “Footbaths tend to be cleaner earlier in the day,” says Carolyn Siegal, DPM, a podiatrist in Boston.

Take an odorless disinfectant with you; when added to water, it kills 99.9 per cent of infection-causing bacteria within 30 seconds.

Tote your own tools:

It’s impossible to know if salon instruments are properly sterilised. To prevent spreading your own bacteria, swab tools with rubbing alcohol after each use.

Shave post-pedi:

Freshly shaven legs create nicks that welcome unwanted bacteria.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved by New York Times Syndication Sales Corp. This material may not be published, broadcast or redistributed in any manner.

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