If your toes look like the dessicated talons of a newly unwrapped mummy, don’t panic. With the right preparation, and a wise choice of footwear, it’s quite possible to look presentable in men’s sandals. Here’s how to tread the tricky terrain of sandal season with our four-step men’s guide to perfectly groomed feet and nails.
Step 1: Examine
If your feet haven’t seen the light of day since the last time you embarked on a beach holiday, it’s high time you gave them an MOT. Choose a moment to be alone with your trotters, remove your socks and with the aid of a bright light, give your feet a thorough inspection.
At this stage it’s important to distinguish between what you can do yourself, and what’s a job for the professionals. Common problems like fungal infections, ingrown toenails and corns are heralded by discoloration of the nails, itching or pain. They’re easily resolved, though you may need to take a trip to see your GP or podiatrist.
Diabetes is an insidious disease that damages the blood vessels and nerves of the feet causing poor circulation and numbness that can make it hard to tell when you’ve injured yourself. If left untreated, such injuries can become major medical emergencies. Make sure you know the early signs of diabetes, and seek help if you need to.
Step 2: File
If your feet are unsightly enough to cause you embarrassment, get yourself a foot file and do some dry rasping to remove thick calluses. Take your time – it can take a few goes to get your feet looking ship-shape. If you go too hard all at once, you’ll just make your feet sore.
Now give your feet a soak in the tub and, if necessary, smooth your feet further with the help of a pumice stone. Pat dry and apply moisturising cream – it’s a good idea to do this in the evening so your skin has all night to absorb it.
Keep your feet looking good by using a good foot scrub regularly, and do also oil your toenails – even olive oil is better than nothing. This helps to keep nails supple, making them easier to trim and less likely to split.
Step 3: Trim
Your toenails have a shallower arc than your fingernails making it easier to cut them with clippers – go for the bigger variety designed for the purpose. Unlike fingernails which should be rounded with a file, the risk of ingrowing nails means you should always cut your toenails straight across.
Leave a narrow strip of nail, or free edge, at the end of each of your toes. It’s best to snip a little at a time rather than risking taking off too much and suffering the consequences. While you’re down there, have a crack at your toe hair too – especially if you look like a hobbit from the shin down. Avoid shaving or you’ll end up with in growing hairs, but do trim with scissors or a body hair trimmer.
Step 4: Deodorise
Fungal infections make your feet stink to high heaven; sweat makes them smell too. While the former requires a trip to see your GP, the issue of sweaty feet is best dealt with by wearing shoes that breathe, socks that wick moisture away from your skin, and by applying a foot deodorant.
Resist the temptation to swamp your feet in fragrance, or to apply antiperspirant – clogging your sweat pores doesn’t stop you sweating and can irritate your skin. Instead go for a natural fragrance that delights rather than clobbers the senses.
How to choose the best summer sandals
Your feet are prepped and ready to go – now all you need to show them off is a decent pair of leather sandals. Unlike man-made alternatives like rubber or plastic, leather breathes, keeping your feet comfortable and odour-free.
For pure beachwear, you can’t beat the ease with which you can kick off a pair of flip flops when you want to go for a swim. But that chunk of leather between your toes can prove uncomfortable for the uninitiated. A pair of classy slip-on sandals featuring a padded foot bed and leather cross straps is all you need to avoid this problem.
For anyone venturing further afield, a good rule of thumb is never to wear a pair of sandals that prevent you outrunning a dog. With this in mind, choose a smart pair of hiking or fisherman’s sandals which protect your toes. With their velcro style fastening they’re also super easy to get on and off, and look great too.
Do you have any foot care tips? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.