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With sandal weather in full swing, you may wish you could bare your soles confidently without a second thought. But foot issues may be standing in the way, which is why we turned to New York City podiatrist Dr. Krista Archer and founder of the highly-rated ARCH line of foot-centric skincare products, for her advice about how to put the spring back in your step and get fabulous feet that are worthy of showing off.
Q: What can I do about discolored or brittle toenails?
A: A coat of polish is just a quick fix, and while a spa pedicure may camouflage toenail issues, this indulgence doesn’t get to the source of the problem. “The primary cause of toenail issues is fungus. Often the result of unsanitary pedicures, “This bug invades the nailbed and causes changes like discoloration, thickness, brittleness and crumbly debris,” Dr. Archer explains. If this sounds familiar, Dr. Archer emphasizes that treating nail fungus requires diligence and time—often up to a year. “My protocol includes laser treatments, shoe treatments, topical medications morning and night, medical pedicures and possibly office-based Keryflex nail treatments.”
Q: What’s the best way to deal with calluses?
A: According to Dr. Archer, there are two types of calluses. “There are smooth, flat, large diameter lesions, which usually occur over the heel area, and raised, focal calluses that commonly occur at the ball of the foot under isolated foot bones.” (These should not be confused with corns, which are painful lesions that usually occur on the top of toe joints.) These patches of thickened skin are generally due to friction and irritation caused by shoes. “The first steps for minimizing calluses are controlling the pathological motion of the feet and toes, and knowing your foot type so you can select the right shoes.” For example, if you have flat feet and bunions, flat strappy sandals that lack arch support aren’t going to do you any favors—especially if you’re walking to work.
Q: What type of sandals should you be wearing?
A: Dr. Archer shares, “Grecian-style sandals are on-trend and fashionable—but they don’t offer arch support and are not ideal for long walking commutes or walking the dog. Their thin straps can also cause problems in patients with wide feet or bunions. I recommend FitFlops instead because they have anatomically-contoured footbeds that increase foot-to-midsole contact for maximum support and comfort in all the right places—especially when walking extended distances.”
Q: What’s a medical pedicure, and should you be getting them?
A. Similar to a medical facial (which differs from a spa-based facial), medical pedicures are performed in a doctor’s office—and all instruments are sterilized the same way surgical tools are. “The nail technician performing a medical pedicure is trained by and works under the supervision of a doctor, podiatrist or podiatric physician. No jet tubs are used—and single-use disposable liners are used in the foot baths instead,” Dr. Archer explains. “These treatments are ideal for everyone and anyone who doesn’t want to get foot fungus—as well as those who are currently undergoing foot fungus treatment.” In case you’re wondering, yes, your nails get polished (Dr. Archer stocks an array of 5-, 7-,10-free and anti-fungal options). Another difference between spa and medical pedicures is that the latter treatments are unlikely to utilize blades to smooth calluses. Instead, expect a variety of physical and chemical-based exfoliation products and measures. (Severe calluses can be addressed with a separate procedure called debridement.)
Maintaining smooth, soft soles requires daily upkeep—and these at-home products can keep you sandal-ready year-round.
ARCH Sole Savour Relief Crème
Harnessing the soothing power of CBD to offset foot pain and inflammation caused by the wrong shoes or too much time on your feet, this cosseting cream also rejuvenates and moisturizes rough skin with green tea, bee pollen and sea kelp extracts.
Patchology PoshPeel Pedi Cure
Major dead skin-build-up require intervention in the form of an acid-based foot peel. Unlike daily-use products, this intensive peel requires 60-90 minutes of soak time (in neat, unmessy booties)—but results are far from instantaneous. It takes three to seven days for the peeling action to start, and once it does there’s no going back. Expect to see snake-like shedding (during which you’ll likely want to wear socks at all times to prevent flakes from spreading all over your house, and avoid explaining what’s going on to others). But once the exfoliation process is complete, you won’t believe how smooth and soft your feet are.
Barefoot Scientist Preheels+ Blister Spray
New shoes are notorious for causing blisters, but a quick spritz of this mist can help minimize friction and prevent their formation. Simply put, this spray forms an invisible barrier on the skin to help it resist the effects of rubbing—and it’s totally clear, hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested. With protection that lasts for up to six hours, don’t step out in a new pair of kicks without it.
Baby Foot Polishing Foot Wipes
Let’s be honest… Your feet get pretty grimy after stomping around in sandals all day, especially in the city. These refreshing cleansing wipes eliminate any dirt and grime while providing an extra exfoliating boost, and they can also enhance the results of an acid-based treatment while peeling is in progress.
Whish Beauty Coconut Milk + Verbena Exfoliating Foot Mask
Intense exfoliating foot peels should be limited to once a season, but regular upkeep with a hydrating foot mask can help ensure soft, smooth soles. This creamy, hydrating treatment features papaya and pineapple enzymes along with willow bark to help slough away dry, dead cells, plus moisturizing and soothing botanicals to smooth and revitalize rough heels and feet.
Note: Patchology products were provided for review. All other products were purchased or sampled in store. All opinions are my own.