How to Get Soft Feet This Summer, According to a Podiatrist
Listen, we love a strappy sandal or slide as much as the next person, but they do no favors for the state of our heels. If your feet are also looking a bit haggard right about now, you’ve come to the right place. We called up Dr. Ebonie Vincent, a board-certified podiatrist to share her best tips for how to get soft feet—and maintain them—this summer.
Meet the Expert
Dr. Ebonie Vincent is a board-certified podiatrist at OC podiatry, DPM (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine) and star of TLC’s “My Feet Are Killing Me.”
1. Scrub your feet gently and regularly
“The soles of your feet don’t have oil glands like other parts of your body, which is one of the reasons why they’re prone to dryness,” explains Vincent. Add to that the constant friction you get from walking and the added exposure to the elements during the summer months, and it’s a perfect storm for dry, flaky heels. That’s why exfoliating them regularly (even daily) is key for keeping a smooth surface. Vincent recommends using a loofa and soapy water or a pumice stone in the shower, adding that, “You want to be gentle with your pressure. Don’t scrub too hard, which is our tendency. Harder isn’t better here.”
While we’re on the topic of exfoliation, we had to ask her thoughts on those viral “Baby Foot” peels that make your feet shed for days to reveal, as its name implies, infantile skin.
“Your skin naturally sheds as is, so when you use a peel like that, you’re increasing the number of layers you’re shedding, which sounds good in theory, but can actually strip the pH and moisture from your skin and take off too many layers, which can cause sensitivity,” says Vincent. “While they’re OK on occasion for those with very dry feet, they’re not something you should be using regularly.” In sum, you’re better off going the gentle, regular exfoliation route over the quick fix.
2. Moisturize your feet daily, no exceptions
“To maintain soft feet, you have to put moisturizer on your feet every single day. Some people might even need to moisturizer them twice a day,” says Vincent, who likes a shea butter-based moisturizer. And if you have especially craggy heels, try layering a petrolatum-based occlusive like Vaseline or Aquaphor over your body lotion (aka slugging) to keep moisture from escaping.
Though zealous sluggers on TikTok might swear by doing this process nightly, Vincent cautions against it. “Too much of anything isn’t great,” she tells us. “Excess moisture can cause your feet to get extra sweaty, which can cause fungus to grow. Keep the slugging to no more than once a week.”
3. Maintain the length and shape of your toenails
Now that we’ve got your soles settled, let’s move onto the toenails. “Ideally, you want to trim them every month and cut them into a straight-across, squared off shape,” advises Vincent, adding that you don’t want to cut them too short. “If you cut your toenails too short, it can actually cause ingrowns because your nail thinks it’s supposed to grow in a different direction, and that’s into the skin.”
4. Take polish breaks
“At least take a break from colored polish whenever you can,” says Vincent. “The residue from polish can get embedded into your nails, which is why you often see discoloration or those white patches when you remove your polish.”
If the thought of having unvarnished feet makes you a little antsy, you can follow in Vincent’s (ahem) footsteps and have your nails buffed and polished in a clear or neutral shade, swapping in the occasional bright color before a trip or special occasion.
5. BYOP (Bring Your Own Products) to Your Pedicures
Ever wonder how a podiatrist approaches getting a pedicure? Perhaps unsurprisingly, Vincent prioritizes hygiene over all else. “I’ve seen way too many patients come in with fungal issues after pedicures over the years. When I go to a salon, I want to see that blue packet of tools coming fresh out the autoclave. Better yet, I prefer when they offer non-reusable tools and give the file and buffer to you after they’re done.”
Another thing to consider if you’re concerned with hygiene: Skip the soak and ask for a dry or waterless pedi instead, which are way more sanitary since you don’t know what’s lurking in those foot bowls or drains.