Brief summary mentioned below for those who don't want to read the whole thing.
I used to hate my feet. I really hated my feet so much that I once tried to wear socks daily, but I gave that up only because it's too hot outside to wear socks. There were a number of different issues: some in my control, some beyond my control.
The biggest thing about my feet that's beyond my control, is random white patches on my skin due to a skin condition called vitiligo. So it means the skin cells on some parts of my skin lack melanin, and it is very noticeable even from a distance because my skin tone is a dusky medium dark color. So I always got nasty stares at my bare feet by random people, and even unsolicited advises, recommendations and questions from courageous strangers. It makes me very uncomfortable.
But there were other issues with my feet as well, things that I could deal with, but didn't for several years and just kept hating my feet even more. I had extremely dry, flaky toes that turned grey. Sometimes I would randomly slap on Vaseline hoping that it would work, but it wasn't the solution. Another issue I had was calluses forming on the bottom of my feet, especially because of walking/running regularly for exercise. It even started to hurt. Again, I would just scrub the bottom vigorously with a foot scrubbing stone and hoped that it would help, but it didn't, the calluses always came back. And overall, my feet are quite dry.
In the recent years, I started caring for my skin more religiously, and in the last few months I have developed a routine that worked the most effectively to make them look and feel amazing. No pedicures, neither in the salon nor at-home DIY pedicures. But rather a simple, consistent routine that gradually made them look better and maintain good-looking feet throughout the year. I don't paint my nails so this myTake will exclude any tips concerning nail polish.
In-shower daily routine
Instead of trying to make time during the day for my feet, I simply do it in the shower. It's harder to forget and easier to maintain. You only need a good washcloth or loofah, a good soap that doesn't dry you out, toenail brush and your favorite body moisturizer. Optional: foot scrubbing stone if you need it.When washing your feet, don't just scrub on top of your feet, go on the bottom of your feet and in-between your toes as well. Then use a toenail brush and scrub your toenails with it. This may be difficult if you wear nail polish, and if that's the case use the brush less frequently and always in-between changing your nail polish. Use foot scrubber on your calluses if need be, don't go too rough because you don't have to get rid of it all at once. After you're done, moisturize your entire feet very well. My favorite thing to use on my whole body after shower is a plain and simple body oil, and I apply it on my feet as well. I use coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil or mustard oil, whatever I have at home. Shea butter is also amazing.
This is basically the routine that I follow almost daily. Using the toenail brush completely removed the dry flaky skin on my toes with no evidence that I ever had any issue in past. It also removes dead skin from the toenails so you don't feel the need to use any extreme tool like a scraper or a drill in the long run. The scrub helped me to get rid of the calluses gradually, but what kept them from coming back was moisturizing thoroughly. The oils even helped in growing stronger and shinier toenails, which is great because I don't paint my nails so my natural nails look good with this routine.
When it comes to eliminating calluses, always keep in mind that exfoliating and moisturizing go hand-in-hand. You have to moisturize to soften the dead skin, hence make exfoliating easier, and you need to exfoliate to remove the top layer of dead skin to let the moisturizer go deeper into the skin.
The tips above were for daily routine and just good enough on their own. But these extra steps taken as needed, usually once every few weeks, has given me really good long-term results.
When my feet have been suffering badly due to walking or running a lot more than normal, or they have been dry because of the weather, I saturate them with a good, thick cream, put a sock on and sleep with it. Sometimes I even layer it with Vaseline on top to seal the moisture and retain it for longer. I don't do this every night, but only at times, or any time when I feel like I need it. It vanished all my calluses and makes the feet look really nice in sandals. So I strongly recommend trying it if you walk/run a lot and end up developing calluses as a result.
Another thing I like to do 'at times' is using a nice and grainy scrub. Sometimes it's a simple homemade scrub with sugar, oil and other ingredients in it, and sometimes it's a store-bought scrub. If you scrub your feet with loofah regularly you really don't need to use a sugar scrub that often, which is why I tend to use it only once a month. But when I do, I LOVE how soft the skin feels, and it also helped with the calluses when they were really bad and painful. With a pumice stone, you only scrub the bottom of your feet, but with a sugar scrub you can exfoliate all over your feet, which is why I think it is important.
Care for the nails
I don't do anything special to my toenails. Exfoliating and moisturizing keeps them in good shape already. I cut my toenails in its natural shape, and at times a square shape, because my toenails are naturally a bit squarish so round shape isn't flattering on me. When you file, always go in one direction to prevent rough edges. And don't skip filing. Every time I did, I regretted it. I don't believe in scraping the nail bed or pushing the skin over the cuticle, but proceed with caution and avoid going overboard if you want to do it. And cuticle trimmer is a complete devil. There's a reason why it is controversial in the pedicure world, and don't use it at all unless you actually need it.
Once you start with all these tools, it is really hard to stop. If you start using them, it is really hard to maintain good feet without entirely depending on them. So be careful about using a lot of tools for your foot care. They might make your feet look nice initially but they can quickly start looking really bad if you can't keep up with the appointments. I myself regret using my pumice stone way too much and way too vigorously to desperately get rid of my calluses all at once, and now it is hard for me to maintain my feet without it. Which is why I don't recommend using it a lot either and make it clear that it is optional.
Use as less tools as possible. Keep a simple but consistent routine instead of using a lot of tools to make your feet look amazing initially and then looking worse in the long run.
Overall, I am glad that when I started out, mine didn't look outstanding at the beginning but they slowly started looking better and I find it easier to get away with not caring for my feet for longer periods of time because I am not depended on using a lot of tools or pedicure 'sessions'.
I am really happy with how my feet look now. From being the one who always wanted to hide in socks to the one who rocks sandals for most of the year, it feels like a total 0-100 transformation to me. I even get very flattering compliments from my friends and it makes it all feel even more worthwhile and enjoyable.
People still give nasty stares. Nothing is gonna get rid of the vitiligo marks and as long as they are there there will never be a shortage of people giving weird looks. But I no more feel as self-conscious about it.
Just let them look! Might as well give them a pleasant view while we are at it. ;)
> Scrub your feet with your loofah/washcloth thoroughly in the shower, including the bottom of your feet ad the webbing between your toes.
> Use a toenail brush to scrub your toenails almost daily, in the shower.
> Use pumice stone as needed, don't be too rough and try to scrub it all off at once.
> Moisturize your entire feet after shower with your favorite lotion/oil/butter/whatever.
> Use a thick cream on your foot and put a sock on for overnight deep conditioning and eliminating calluses, as frequently as you need it.
> Use a sugar scrub once a month, or as needed.
> File your toenails in one direction.
> Avoid using any unnecessary/extra tool, such as a cuticle trimmer. It's hard to stop using them once you start.