How to keep your feet smooth (solutions for soft, pretty feet)
My favorite thing about the Vibrant Nation community is how members share tried-and-tested solutions to the problems we midlife women have in common: everything from setting boundaries with boomerang kids, to how much information to include in a resume, to stylish dressing after 50, to choosing a menopause specialist, to finding the best anti-aging products for our changing skin.
It's only natural. After all, only another vibrant woman understands these questions and as well as we do. When a vibrant woman offers a solution that has worked for her, we know it's a recommendation we can trust.
So it makes perfect sense that when VN blogger Peggy@ScreamsofConsciousness.com had an attack of what she calls the "dry-oh-my's," she turned to her VN sisters:
"Those slurping sounds were my body, soaking up one more round of lotion. All of a sudden I seem to have just dried up. When did my body begin to look like a bad day in the desert? What are the best ways to combat the "dry-oh-my's"? Let's talk lotions, potions, and pick-me-ups. I am clueless. Help!"
In a separate thread, VN member KLE wrote, "I'm 57 and wondering what my feet will look like in years to come. What really works on dry rough feet?"
And KimS lamented, "I've tried many different products, but honestly my husband's feet are better looking than mine."
As we enter menopause, hormonal changes can make our skin very dry, including the skin on our feet - and winter weather is especially drying! But as VN members will attest, the right products and habits will keep your feet soft and smooth now and through sandal season.
Below, we've gathered Vibrant Nation members' favorite solutions for smooth, pretty feet.
Looking for the best skincare solutions for women 50 plus? Vibrant Nation has partnered with Lois Joy Johnson, former beauty and fashion director for More magazine, to bring you the new VN Beauty Guide 2011 Skin Care and Cosmetic Product Guide for Women Over 50, an insider's survey of 150 anti-aging cosmetics and beauty products that really work.
Here are the tried-and-tested tips Vibrant Nation members have shared for keeping our feet soft and pretty after 50.
- Udderly Smooth Cream
VN member pammcallister likes Udderly Smooth Cream. "I put lots of it on my feet at bedtime, then cover with soft cotton socks so it doesn't get all over the sheets. Works great for me!"
- Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme with Vitamin E
Beth Kristine loves Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme. "I soak my feet, rub them with a pumice stone, then use the most amazing product on them: Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme with Vitamin E. It goes on sort of like a lotion and just smells and feels amazing. It's the best product I've found for this purpose." VN blogger pinkim agrees: "I too swear by this lotion!"
Adoptsalot has had "a lot of luck" with Heeltastic. "I put it on after a shower at night, then put on socks. I reapply when I get up in the morning. It costs $10 at Rite Aid and CVS." VN member Cali girl likes it too. "Heeltastic is the best product I have ever used on cracked heels, or for that matter rough elbows, knees, etc. So good I just bought another one. Give it a try!"
- Heel Rescue
RosieMay says, "I use Heel Rescue. It cost around $5 for a 16 ounce tub and I have had it for quite a while. It has been great My heels are clear and soft like a baby's bottom, where before they were dry, cracked and sore. It is non-greasy and has a very mild scent, if any. I use it every night prior to retiring and don't have to worry about staining the sheets with grease or covering up my feet. I have used many things in the past but I am glad I came upon this."
- Bag Balm
VN member CyndiB struggled with dry, cracked feet all her life, then finally found something that works better than anything else she ever tried: Bag Balm, a product originally (and still used) by farmers on dairy cows. "It sounds gross, but it works like a charm," CyndB says. "After a shower, I rub Bag Balm on my feet and then I put a pair of socks on. I leave the socks on overnight or all day depending on when I showered. The Bag Balm soaks into my feet and I haven't had any problems with them getting overly dry or cracked. I have to do this more often in the winter when it's drier; once a week works great in the winter and sometimes I skip here and there."
- Arbonne FC5 Lotion
WoodsFTL says, "I have had dry skin on my feet for many years, and currently find that using Arbonne's FC5 body lotion is great. They also have a foot cream. My husband, a letter carrier, used it this past winter on his hands because they crack so in the cold weather."
- Avon Skin So Soft Gelled Oil
VN member Marilynne says, "I've been using Avon's Skin So Soft Gelled Oil. It soaks in and doesn't leave the caked on dead skin cells. My feet look and feel good and I'm 71 years old."
Lyn Burnstine used Vasoline till she was warned about the risks of using a petroleum product that is absorbed into her body through her skin. "Now I use the pure stuff." Lyn likes DiabetiDerm Cream, which contains urea, and The Dirty Moose's Olive Oil Cream, which has no scent.
- Heel-Bow Helper
Member JanieW also suffered from cracked heels and rough elbows until she found Heel-Bow Helper, from the online company
Mizz Kim's Creations. The minty-lavender product comes in an easy-to-use roll-on format. "It does work. An added bonus is that my feet always smell wonderful. I put on my footsie socks (those fuzzy wonders you wear to bed) after applying the Heel-Bow. It really makes my heels soak up the treatment."
- Mary Kay Satin Hands 3-Step Pampering Set
sdholman says recommends using Mary Kay Satin Hands on your feet (as well as your hands). "Use a small file to get the dry skin off before you soak your feet in a pan of warm water, then do the three-step program. The Extra Emollient Night Cream (first step) can be added at the end as well. Wonderful feeling!
Exfoliant scrubs and foot files
- Scrub with a natural bristle brush
VN member NanaC scrubs her feet every night with a harsh natural bristle brush. "I have bought several of these brushes in health food shops and Body Shops, but the last one I got in a hardware store for $3.00. Exactly the same, as long as it is natural bristle."
- Use a pumice stone
Mandyjune says, "A pumice stone works really super well for me. I take a bath and let me feet soak and it gets soft, then I scrub like crazy. At night, put Vaseline on your feet and wear socks to bed. It really helps moisturize your dry feet.
- Try an affordable dollar store scrub
On a budget? No need to sacrifice good foot care. VN member NanaC says, "I buy really heavy grain scrubs from the dollar store and use them on my feet." The scrubs may be too abrasive for delicate facial skin, but great for dry feet!
- Sally Hansen Callus Remover
VN member OldBlonde has bought all sorts of products for dry, cracked heels, even spending "unreasonable amounts of money on products thinking that if they cost more, there must be a reason." She now knows better: "I currently use a Sally Hanson product called Callus Remover. It's a gel that comes in a green tube. It is so easy to use because you only leave it on for one minute. I have a built-in seat in our shower so I am able to sit and not get water on my heels while I'm waiting. After one minute, I take a pumice stone and scrub it off while the water is running over my foot. I love this stuff! It works better than anything else I've ever bought."
VN member JEM likes Sally Hansen as well. "I recommend soaking your piggies for a half hour or so in any great smelling concoction. Then use an exfoliating cream especially for feet, like Sally Hansen's. Use a pumice stone or emery board designed for heels (Sally's has one as well). You can also find a heel scaler which includes a razor blade. It is important to get as much as you can of the dry scales removed first. After you are all done, slather the feet with a thick coat of Vaseline and put on clean white athletic socks and wear them overnight. You may have to try the latter a second night or even weekly for maintenance."
- Ped Egg
After a shower, VN member imaginesjm uses a Ped Egg on her calloused feet, focusing on the heel areas. "Afterward, it's like I've had a professional pedicure. I believe I purchased it at Walgreens for something like $15.00. It wasn't expensive. I also used Vaseline on my feet at night and they look as good as when I used to get regular pedicures."
VN member secondlife likes the Pedegg too. "Use it to remove the rough skin, then coat your feet with a heavy moisturizer and put on socks. Do the Ped Eegg about once a week and do the moisturizer/sock thing every night before bed. If sleeping in socks bugs you, cut the toes out."
Ginboo says, "The Ped Egg is great. I do the Ped Egg, slather on the lotion as often as I think of it. It's a never-ending battle and if you slack off, the cracks and rough spots are right back."
- Pretty Feet and Hands
After soaking her feet and filing away thick calluses, VN member kircstep rubs her feet with "a fantastic product that's been around for ever" - the classic exfoliant lotion, Pretty Feet and Hands. kircstep uses it on her face, hands, and feet: "anywhere I want the skin to be fresh and glowing. It doesn't have harsh granules, but the lotion starts to roll the dead skin off. It's amazing!"
- Pedicure Essentials Dual Action Swedish File
Judy66 says, "My favorite foot-care thing in the world is by Dr. Scholl, the Pedicure Essentials Dual Action Swedish file. If only I used it more often I think my feet would look 20 years younger. It gets rid of all the dead skin. The handle is easy to hold and to use even in the shower. Too bad, I tend to forget about my feet until the rare occasion that I put on tights and snag them on my rough feet. But then I grab my Dr. Scholl's file and file them smooth again."
- Arbonne vegan sea salt scrub
SharrySally is into petroleum-free vegan and earth-friendly products, so she wants a sea salt scrub with those attributes. She found one from Arbonne. "It's a blend of avocado, safflower with kukui nut, sage, calendula (an anti-inflammatory) and other herbs in a sea salt base. It scrubs off the dead and leaves the oils to condition. Arbonne also has an herbal foot cream which I use at night, especially in summer. Works great for me, the animals and the planet."
Confused by an ocean of skincare products and dazzling anti-aging claims? Get an objective, straight-talking review of 150 popular anti-aging cosmetic products in the Vibrant Nation beauty guide, 2011 Skin Care and Cosmetic Product Guide For Women Over 50: 150 Anti-Aging Cosmetics and Beauty Products That Work.
Simple home remedies
- Olive oil
Looking for a simple treatment that you can find around the house? VN member email@example.com recommends rubbing olive oil into your feet at night, then covering each foot with a plastic bag and a cotton sock. "The olive oil will absorb into your feet. Your feet will love it."
- Castor oil
VN member rubytuesday recommends castor oil, which can be found at most health food stores if you don't happen to already have some on hand. "Dilute the castor oil with olive or another carrier oil as it is quite viscous. Slather on your feet and cover with cotton socks overnight. You will be amazed."
By far the most recommended solution to dry feet on Vibrant Nation is Vaseline. VN blogger Tamara says, "The best thing is to slather your feet with Vaseline at night. Put on socks when you go to sleep and your feet will wake up baby-butt soft."
VN member ANITA agrees. "I am 55. I get regular pedicures, soak my feet, use a pumice stone. Out of all the professional products I've used, what works best? Just your ordinary Vaseline. Use it and you will have smooth and soft feet."
"After years of cracked, bleeding heels, dry skin that shredded bed sheets and socks, and dreading summer sandals," VN member Nannyjo24 calls Vaseline a cheap and easy, fail-safe solution. "I haven't had a crack in several years now. In the summer, I just stick a pair of flip flops or light sandals on for the first hour or two after the Vaseline if it is too hot for socks."
DianeLynn, too, has used "every product on the market," including simple home remedies like olive oil and extra virgin coconut oil. But she always goes back to "the old faithful," Vaseline, and wakes up to "lovely soft feet in the morning. If you occasionally need more work on your footsies, I can recommend Peg Egg, pumice stone and/or foot brush. Those just give you a little extra "oomph" for those old feet. And it's nice to pamper ourselves, isn't it?"
- Mineral oil or baby oil
VN member BEMC works in foot care and often treats people with excessive dry skin. Her recommendations:
- First step: sandpaper. If you already have thick callousing on the heels and other areas of the feet, pick a course sandpaper to take the dead skin off quickly without much rubbing. You can use a finer sandpaper or emery cloth or pumis stone after.
- Step two: never use "creams" or "lotions". That goes for most of the body's skin. The skin sheds dead skin cells all day long. If you use creams and lotions, it "glues" those dead skin flakes in place on top of the healthy skin. A nice oil is much better. To use oil on your feet, once they are sanded with emery cloth, or pumice stone, wipe the dead dry skin away with a dry facecloth or hand towel. Take mineral oil (or baby oil, or some other massage oil you prefer) and put some in the palm of your hand and smear it on your feet. Give yourself a nice massage while you are doing this.
- Step three: Take the towel again and wipe off all the excess oil that did not get absorbed into the skin.
"Now, your feet are happy, smooth, and won't ever crack and bleed!"
- Drink more water.
Dry skin can often be sign of internal dryness as well. CDPshine's solution: "I drink a morning tea of hot water with two tablespoons of raw organic coconut oil with a sprinkling of nutmeg. That helps a lot and my skin has a glow. I also use coconut oil with organic frankincense oil on my feet several times a week. If I'm diligent, that works wonders!"
- Cut back on sugar and flour.
CDPShine says, "One of my naturopaths told me that cracked heels can come from candida and is one of the soft signs of that fungal disorder. Eating less sugar and flour products has helped me in many ways, including better skin."
- Ground up aspirin.
NanaC's recently discovered solution for tired and aching feet: "I ground up about six aspirins and put it in my foot lotion. A wonderful discovery."
VN member 123WASH recommends a slightly different version of the aspirin solution. "Take two aspirin and crush them. Add one tablespoon Vaseline. Apply to feet. Cover with Saran Wrap and go to bed. In the morning, remove and hurray! Nice feet. I've done it twice since reading about it on Vibrant Nation and it works."
- Rethink your footwear.
Mandyjune says, "Try to wear flip flops and sandals less often. If you ever noticed, men wear tennis shoes a lot and they have super soft feet because their shoes provide cushion. Often women will wear sandals and heels everyday and then it really makes your feet crackly.
Rubytuesday recommends Uggs or similar bedroom slippers whenever possible. "It helps because the wool lining has natural lanolin in it."
- Go for a walk barefoot on the beach.
For natural exfoliation that's also good exercise, VN member Sammysmom recommends taking your shoes off and going for a long walk on the beach. "It's free and fun!"
- Invest in a good pedicure.
If you can afford the luxury of a professional pedicure, it can be an excellent investment for keeping your feet smooth and soft. VN member jackielee says, "I used to have the roughest heels around. Now I make sure that I get a pedicure every so often"
VN member OldBlonde agrees, adding, "Giving myself a pedicure is nothing like having it done professionally." Other members like NanaC and JEM also recommend pedicures. If you're on a budget, it may still be possible to treat yourself to a good professional pedicure for as little as $15 to $35, depending on where you live.
- Foot massage.
Keeping good circulation in your feet helps too. VN member NanaC takes care of this without breaking her stride at work. "I always have one of those foot massage thingys under my desk at work and home. I roll my foot around a lot on it."
If you have the option, get your partner to help. VN member jackielee says, "The best thing of all is that my husband actually loves to put lotion on my feet and massage them as we watch TV each night. No more rough heels for me!"
- Have regular checkups with your podiatrist.
NanaC loves pampering her feet, and incorporates many of the tips listed here in her foot care routine. "I do all of these things," she says, "and see a podiatrist about three times a year. I swear I spend more time and money on my feet than I do my face!"
As with most things, the key to keeping your feet soft and pretty after 50 is not any one product or habit, but consistency. Every woman is different, so what works for one of us may not work for another. Find the lotion, oil, file or scrub that works for you, then dedicate yourself to using it regularly. And be sure to come back to Vibrant Nation and let us know what you think.
Ready to step up to more serious measures? Read VN author Wendy Lewis' post, "Do your feet need a face lift? What women 50+ need to know about cosmetic procedures for the feet."