Heel Appeal

by Jason Kessler
First steps on how not to cultivate heel appeal and not take your feet for granted

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Now that summer has drawn to a close, it’s finally time to put away the flip-flops—assuming you live in a climate that actually changes seasons. I’m in L.A., so it’s perma-summer around here most of the time, and that means my sandals stay on. It also means that my feet are exposed to the world on a regular basis, which has turned them into callused, dirty monster hooves.

Normally, I just accept that fact and move on, but as the Green Guy, it’s my duty to investigate how we “Men of the Filthy Feet” can take care of these essential body parts that so graciously take us from Point A to Point B.

The first step to proper foot care is to wash your feet. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? The truth is, it’s easy to overlook your feet while you shower because you’re, y’know, standing on them. I know my train of thought is always, “Well, they got wet and soap definitely had to pass over them to get to the drain, so they must be clean.” Nope. If the bottoms of your feet haven’t actually been exposed to soap, then it doesn’t count. Pick up your feet, take the two seconds to wash them, and you’re good to go, right? Not so fast, tiger. Good foot care is more than just a little wash-and-dry.

Clean feet are just the first step in establishing a solid foot care routine. Next, you need to scrub. If your feet are anything like mine, then you’ve got some calluses going on down there. A thorough scrubbing is the best way to eliminate them; and get rid of that hard, dead skin. I have two products that seem to do the trick. SpaRitual’s Sole Mate® Eco Foot File is a great tool for sanding down the heels with a double-sided “grit wand.” The disposable, abrasive corn-based pads are biodegradable and come in two levels of grit to accommodate different types of skin. Gilden Tree, a leader in natural and organic foot care, also makes a couple of scrubbing products. I loved its kiln-fired terra cotta Foot Scrubber, which is virtually indestructible compared to other pumice stones.

Once you’re all scrubbed down, it’s time to get some cream going. ShiKai’s Borage Therapy Foot Cream is a good option (available at Whole Foods Market), but my favorite was—once again—Gilden Tree with its unisex Kiran Forest-scented Nourishing Foot Cream. Not too greasy, not too scented, this cream moisturizes your feet using a certified organic aloe vera base and leaves hardly any residue. With aloe vera as the main ingredient, it actually works really well for sunburn relief, too.

Now that your feet are nice and moisturized, you need to add a protective layer of balm to prevent further drying and cracking. There are a lot of options on the market, but three really stand out to me. They all seem to work equally well, so it’s really a matter of fragrance and degree of ingredient sourcing that you care about. If you want fully certified USDA organic, go with Badger Foot Balm. It’s olive oil-based and scented with peppermint and tea tree oils. I’m definitely a fan. If you want something a little more tropical/citrusy, check out all-vegan hellomellow’s Hand and Foot Repair from its men’s fellow line, made from avocado-mango butter. Finally, we’re back to Gilden Tree (are you sensing a theme?) and its 95% Shea Butter Balm. This balm has only four ingredients: wild-crafted shea butter, beeswax, vitamin E and its cologne-esque Kiran Forest aroma. Any one of the three will do the trick, and these balms are all up to the task of preventing further damage to your feet.

It’s kind of amazing to see what a regular foot care regimen will do for your feet. Instead of the dark, callused skin I’ve been used to, now my feet are soft and healthy looking. It’s an important lesson: Don’t take your feet for granted, guys. They get you everywhere you need to go—flip-flop season or not.

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