Given it's July, it would be remiss to dwell on the impending sandal season, since we're smack bang in the middle of it. I've been shamelessly ignoring "SORT YOUR FEET FOR SUMMER" articles since mid-April because, frankly, who can be bothered to buckle down in the bathroom with a foot file when there's Pimm's to be had outside? Not I. So far, I've made do with opting for sandals with backs (these are my favourite), which has proved to be a very cunning way to avoid grappling with the backs of my feet. At this point, they resemble rinds of cheese and are in dire need of some attention. As for toes, mine have been buried under berry-coloured polish since last autumn and, now free of their black-cherry casing, have miscoloured to a very sad shade of yellow. You can see the dilemma. The problem is, I'm still sold on doing very little to help matters along. The good news is I've discovered several genius products that can help transform dodgy feet, with very little effort involved. I thought I'd share...
The ROUGH-skin shedderS
Remember that foot file I told you about? Throw him out. Instead, try Starskin's Magic Hour Exfoliating Double-Layer Foot Mask Socks. Less elbow grease required, you simply pop them on like you would socks (albeit socks that look like you've attached plastic bags to your feet), waddle out into the sunshine to be reunited with aforementioned Pimm's and let the mixture of exfoliating lactic acid and soothing botanical ingredients munch away at the dead skin and calluses on your feet for 60-90 minutes while you relax. Here's the gross bit: it sparks a delayed shedding process, so expect to see bits of old skin peeling off a week or so later (disgustingly satisfying). Afterwards, though, feet are left unbeatably smooth, which is why it's well worth a few days with snake feet to see you through the summer silk-soled.
If you're looking for something with a more immediate effect, I sent our AV producer, Amy, off to try Ameliorate's Intensive Foot Treatment. She's been using it to salvage her knackered feet after long runs. Already a convert, Amy noted it was "blissful to use", as it can be whizzed over feet like a regular moisturiser and left to sink in and do its thing. Containing both lactic acid and urea (which is very softening), it acts fast (with no delayed reaction) to lift away rough skin and blitz cracked heels.
Finally, if you've already taken to using liquid exfoliators on your face (my favourite is Pixi's Glow Tonic), a quick tip is to use what's left on your cotton pad and sweep it over other dry areas, which includes elbows, ankles and (yep, you guessed it) your feet. Kept up regularly, this will keep them smooth as you like.
The soft-feet bestowers
Since my love for foot masks knows no bounds, here's another one: Seoulista Beauty's Rosy Toes Instant Pedicure. Like Starskin, these are mercifully simple to use and involve pulling on plastic booties laced with a softening solution, fastening them to your feet and carrying on with whatever you were doing. They smell of bulgarian rose, which is every bit as lovely as it sounds, and contain aloe vera, beeswax and rose oil to silkify skin and nourish toenails in half an hour.
If you don't fancy swaddling your feet and want something that sinks in fast, try a lightweight dry oil, rather than a thick balm (which can sit on top of skin and struggle to penetrate). Nuxe's Huile Prodigeuse Multi Purpose Oil does the job nicely, spritzes on quick, disappears in seconds and leaves feet suitably hydrated and velvety soft in record time. It smells delicious, too, like fancy sun lotion and holidays.
The tarnisheD toe rescues
Anyone who's tried nail whiteners will tell you they take an age and diligent reapplication to make a difference. To that, I say pshhh. Who has the time? But nail tints are another story entirely. OPI's Nail Envy Strength In Colour Nail Strengthener was recommended to me by nail expert Sophie Harris-Greenslade to even out stained nails. Not only does it do the trick, it also contains nourishing calcium and hydrolysed wheat protein to help strengthen nails, too. It comes in four flattering barely detectable shades, from buttercream (Samoan Sands) to my favourite milky pink (Bubble Bath). And because they're quite sheer (unless you layer them up), you needn't be overly careful with application, which means it can be on and dry in five minutes.
Similarly, Essie's TLC (Treat, Love & Colour) range is equally good with nourishing ingredients to strengthen and a wider selection of nudes, lilacs and corals, if you fancy something a bit more colourful.
Of course, the best thing you can do is give your toenails a break completely, once in a while, but let's leave that until winter, when our feet are safely back in boots. Until then, these minimal-faff tips will do the trick of making our feet look splendid until the end of summer.