Our feet take a lot of daily abuse. Women walking around in high heels, guys wearing construction boots, people wearing flip-flops all day long, etc. These things take their toll.
Our busy lives leave little time for self-care. Plus, the skincare market is very much geared towards women. Men have fewer options and invest less time, money and effort towards skincare.
I live in Phoenix, Arizona, a city where flip-flops and sandals are acceptable footwear almost year-round. Even in the wintertime. So I’ve seen my share of cracked and nasty feet. Mostly guys, although neither gender is immune to foot damage.
In this article, I will provide tips and techniques on restoring your dry, cracked and nasty feet using essential oils and other natural materials, most of which you already have at home. Guys, you’ll definitely want to read on. Ladies, nod your head if you’ve ever had a romantic moment ruined by some dude’s cracked heels.
This post is for people whose feet are in pretty bad shape. Imagine an old house with flaky paint covering the walls. You’re thinking about restoring the house with a new and fresh paint job, but you’re not sure where to begin.
Step One: Strip it Down
The first step in the process is to remove all that calloused, dead skin. This is the equivalent of stripping the old, flaky paint off the walls of the house. In order to put a fresh new coat of paint on the walls, that old flaky paint has to go.
There are a few ways of doing this. You can use one of those pumice stones that you can buy either online or at a drugstore. This one below is for sale on Amazon. Pumice stone on a string. Pretty clever.
Just take the pumice stone and proceed to sand down that nasty, dead calloused skin on your heels and soles of your feet until they’re smooth.
But if your feet really are like sandpaper, do what I do and grab a handful of table salt, sea salt, pink Himalayan salt, or Epsom salt, then add some olive oil or jojoba oil to the salt, and then use that mixture to scrub your feet. Depending on the condition of your skin, this process can take some time. The goal is to remove the old layer of skin and expose the softer skin underneath. Salt would do a more effective job of exfoliation than sugar because of the larger grain size. But if you have open wounds or sores on your feet, that’s gotta hurt. In that case, sugar might be the better choice.
I suppose if you’re a particularly adventurous type of guy, you could just use your Dremel® or get an electrical sander. In that case I would suggest starting off with 220-grit sandpaper and working your way up as you sand down your feet. Of course I’m joking about this, but it’s fun to think about. Some guys have feet so calloused that sparks probably fly when they sand them down.
A year or two ago I started making hand and foot scrub. It was mostly a mixture of salt and carrier oils with some diluted essential oils. I remember talking to a woman about this project and she said that salt tends to be a bit course for some skin types, especially women. This is why sugar is a good alternative to salt, due to the smaller grain size.
So if you’re finding that salt is too rough for you, you can switch to sugar, or even a combination of sugar and salt with the oil. This mixture is also called a slurry, in industrial terms. During the exfoliation stage, the choice of oil isn’t too important, because we’re simply using it as a vehicle for the sugar or salt to do its job. Ordinary olive oil will do just fine, or some other type of vegetable oil.
It would be a good idea to use a basin to do this process. I don’t recommend scrubbing your feet with oils while you’re in the shower, due to the risk of slipping and falling. Plus, you can simply pour the oils, salt or sugar into the wastebasket. Never pour vegetable or other oils down a sink drain because your sink can get clogged.
Step Two: Clean Up
After you’ve removed the cracked, calloused and dead skin, the next step is to wash your feet thoroughly. You don’t want any leftover oils on your feet when you step into the bathtub or shower. If you’re in a hurry or are about to go to sleep, you can skip this step, as long as you remove the oil and salt from your feet.
Step Three: Nourish Your Feet
After you’ve come out of the bath or shower, the next step is to treat your feet to protect them and soften the skin. This will help prevent your feet from getting nasty again. Think of this as priming the walls of a house for a fresh coat of paint. In this case you’re priming your feet.
A combination of carrier oils and essential oils can restore moisture to the skin and help protect it from further damage.
As for carrier oils, I recommend olive, coconut, jojoba and avocado oils because they are skin-friendly, nourishing and have anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties. This site has a more thorough listing of carrier oils. A carrier oil should be selected for its healing properties. To treat feet that have been neglected, some good choices would be avocado, coconut, jojoba, sweet almond, olive, rosehip and evening primrose oils. Many of these oils absorb well, soften the skin, contain antioxidants and possess anti-inflammatory properties.
One alternative to these carrier oils would be castor oil, which is highly viscous and a humectant, meaning that it promotes the retention of water, making this oil good for very dry or chapped skin. I would reserve this one for feet that were in very bad shape to begin with.
Another alternative isn’t even an oil – shea butter. This butter is high in vitamins A and E and in linoleic acids, making it very nourishing to the skin. I’ve used shea butter many times and it is easier to work with than oil. Creates less of a mess.
Once you’ve picked which carrier oils you want to use, the next step is to dilute some essential oil in them. This site has a listing of essential oils to use in foot treatment. Lavender is a great choice for its all-around great qualities. Peppermint is a good choice because of its cooling effects, which is great for hot weather. Frankincense has good anti-inflammatory properties. In my opinion, you should pick essential oils that have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties. Tea tree oil meets the antiseptic and antifungal criteria, and lavender and frankincense have anti-inflammatory characteristics.
After you’ve diluted your chosen essential oils into the carrier oil, then simply massage the mixture onto your feet, especially where they were the most affected, which is often the heels. Then cover your feet with a pair of socks, so as to prevent the oil from being removed.
In three easy steps: exfoliation, cleaning and “priming”, you can cure your own agony of d’feet or that of someone you love. Together we can reduce the epidemic of gnarly feet roaming the streets.