It's finally time for our tootsies to see the light after months of hibernation.
With your first pedicure of the season likely booked and your open-toed shoes poised for the occasion, your feet are ready for some serious TLC.
But Dr. Suzanne Levine, celebrity podiatrist and author of "My Feet Are Killing Me," says a pedicure here and there isn't enough when it comes to foot care. Not only can the salon treatment be dangerous, but Levine stresses we really should be pampering our body's foundation more often.
"People seem to neglect their feet," Levine says, noting that the oversight is a big mistake. "From calluses to cracked skin and nail issues, there's no other part of your anatomy that reflects age as dramatically."
Levine has witnessed clients spend thousands of dollars on Botox, lasers and Chanel suits only to look down and spot wrinkles, bunions and fungus south of the ankles. "Beyond beauty, what's even more important is that our feet are also often the first to show signs of more serious problems like arthritis, diabetes and vascular disease," she adds.
So from fashion to function, Levine's mantra is treat your feet the way you treat your face. Here's how:
Levine suggests you kick things off by soaking your feet for 5-10 minutes in warm water and Epsom salt, which helps eliminate toxins in the body. Aim to soak twice a week during sandal season since your feet are exposed to so many elements this time of year.
In addition to washing your feet from top to bottom, make sure to scrub between your toes and underneath your nails. Levine recommends keeping a pumice stone in the shower and using it at least three times a week to exfoliate the skin and combat build up. "The key is minimizing callus formation," she says. "You'll notice your feet will start to feel as smooth as a baby's."
Levine uses a clay mask every two weeks to help remove oil and impurities deep within the skin, which will leave your tootsies looking and feeling refreshed (and smelling nice). For some extra care, she steps up her routine with a full-on foot facial once a month. The procedure at her New York City office also includes a glycolic peel, microdermabrasion and a collagen-promoting copper cream.
A good rubdown will "bring oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and take away wastes," writes Levine. Massage your feet frequently -- every day if you can -- with motions towards the heart (the direction of circulation) and your whole body will thank you.
Levine swears by products that contain at least 20 percent Urea, an ingredient that penetrates the skin to keep it soft and supple. As for nails and cuticles, she opts for olive oil or almond oil for hydration. Her best advice for moisturizing is to lotion up each night, paying special attention to the heels. "Put some socks on, go to sleep and give your feet a good rub with the pumice stone in the morning," she says.
Your toenails are arguably the main focus of your feet, so be careful when you're clipping. "Cut them straight across and don't cut into the sides," urges Levine. "Otherwise, you could get painful ingrown nails."
Last season's dark polish might have left your nails a little dull. Levine applies a mix of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to brighten them, but if they're really looking yellow, she breaks out a laser for professional-strength whitening.
Levine's final tip is no joke: wear sunscreen! Our feet are one of the body parts we often forget, but be sure to slather it on from head to toe when you go out and about this summer.