Happy Feet Recipes:
Going barefoot is one of the simple joys of summer. Beach sand, grassy fields and warm garden earth all feel better between bare toes. But toward the end of the summer, your feet may show signs of your summer fun. Hiding them in socks and sneakers is not your only option.
The word pedicure means “caring for the feet.” Not many of us find time for regular foot care. Pampering your feet will not only make them look better, it also will make you feel better. Abraham Lincoln once said, “If my feet hurt, I can’t think.”
1. Soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes in comfortably warm water with some Epsom or sea salts added. Use a nailbrush and clean under each toe nail. Use a wet pumice stone or exfoliating scrub — try cornmeal, ground almonds, clean beach sand or our Pumice Foot Scrub to gently rub away hard skin on your feet.
2. Trim your toenails after soaking them. (It is easier to do after the soak, and you will get a cleaner cut.) Cut straight across to avoid painful ingrown nails.
3. Apply a foot mask or use your favorite facial mask recipe to deep cleanse and moisturize your feet. French green clay mixed with some peppermint oil and water makes a refreshing mask. Plain yogurt also works well: Smooth on and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Rinse your feet with warm water followed by cool water.
5. Massage a rich cream, such as our Summer Foot Cream , into your toenails and gently push back the cuticles at the base of each nail. Never cut your cuticles; they play an important role in protecting your nails from infection.
6. Massage the cream into the rest of your feet and elevate them for 15 to 20 minutes. If you are doing the pedicure in the evening, slip on some cotton socks and leave them on all night.
Keep your products in clean containers in a cool, dark, dry spot and they will last quite a long time — usually until used up. Use clean hands or spoon out creams, as you do not want to introduce anything to your creams. If something looks or smells bad, it is safer to just throw it out and make a new batch. Dry products and alcohol-based products have very long shelf lives, whereas products made with fresh foods should be refrigerated.
Several herbs make great tonic foot baths. Use at least ½ cup of fresh or 2 tablespoons dried herbs.
Horsetail: Excellent for tired feet and will help reduce perspiration
Lavender: Creates a refreshing tonic for tired feet
Lovage: A strong natural deodorant
Marjoram: Soothing to tired foot muscles
Peppermint: Energizing and cooling for hot, tired feet
Thyme: Cleansing and refreshing for overworked feet
Soak and Scrub
Live in the lap of luxury — or at least feel like you are for a few moments — as you experience the refreshing cleansing sensation of River Soap Company’s Bath Salts. Our favorite soothing scent is rose geranium, and our pick for enlivening feet after a long day is a soak in their eucalyptus bath salts. For more information contact River Soap Company, (707) 592-4949; or online at www.riversoap.com.
We found the Peppermint Body Buff from V’tae to be perfect for feet. It’s an exfoliant, so it works like an ordinary foot scrub, but without the harsh grit of pumice particles, and the peppermint seems simply revitalizing to tired, worn feet. As the title implies, it’s also great as a scrub for the whole body, but we particularly enjoyed testing this on our tootsies. For more information contact V’tae, (800) 643-3011; or online at www.vtae.com.
Scrub-a-dub-dub with Better Botanicals’ Ayurvedic Foot Scrub for rejuvenating tired, achy feet. While removing dead, dry skin, you’ll keep feet soft and healthy. Try the scrub in combination with Better Botanicals’ Foot Relief Balm. For more information contact Better Botanicals, (888) 224-3727; or online at www.betterbotanicals.com.
Treat your Feet
Better Botanicals’ Neem Foot Relief is the perfect sole mate. Put the bounce back in your step by alleviating inflammation and cracked, chapped skin. We were particularly impressed with how easy this was to use as you simply push it up from the bottom and stroke onto your feet. For more information contact Better Botanicals, (888) 224-3727; or online at www.betterbotanicals.com.
Essencia’s Heel Butter isn’t just for heels, but made for use on your entire foot. The lemon, frankincense and Roman chamomile essential oils in this blend treat dry, inflamed and irritated skin with care. In addition to the nourishing effects of the base oils, shea and mango butters add additional nourishment for the skin. Also consider trying Essencia’s Nail Butter, which contains lemon and tea tree essential oils to protect against fungal and bacterial infections. For more information contact Essencia, (318) 797-1075; or online at www.essenciaonline.com.
The amazing Tea Tree Oil Liquid Foot Powder from Earth Therapeutics goes on as a liquid and dries instantaneously into a soft, silky powder. Your tired feet will be refreshed almost instantaneously by the citrus scent, baking soda and balm mint. For more information contact Earth Therapeutics, (800) 789-3579; or online at www.earththerapeutics.com.
To give Funguent a test-drive, we offered a sample to our friend Bill, whose nails make complete strangers spontaneously say, “Ick.” He e-mailed last week with the news: “You know that bottom part of the nail? (Yes, Bill, we call it the quick.) The new part is growing in normal-looking.” Relief isn’t instant — these are herbs, not magic — but using it regularly over a period of several days did produce notable results. For more information contact High Sierra Healing Products, (800) 244-3657 code 44; or online at www.highoctavehealing.com.
The soothing properties of arnica, St. John’s wort, cayenne and lemongrass found in Basic Botanicals’ FootLoose salve are refreshing for sore aching feet. Basic Botanicals also carries ToeJam—for treating athlete’s foot and other minor skin infections —and FootFetish— a calendula, plaintain and peppermint salve that invigorates tired feet and also can be used to treat minor cuts, scrapes and burns. For more information contact Basic Botanicals, (510) 845-3896; or online at www.basicbotanicals.com.
Uncle Roy’s Foot Powder from Kathy’s Family adds a cool, tingly peppermint scent and feel to clean, dry feet. Sprinkle this sensational powder on the top and bottom of your feet, between your toes, in your socks, or in your shoes. This treat for your feet contains white clay, bentonite, arnica, alfalfa and lavender flowers, and several essential oils that will make your feet happy. For more information contact Kathy’s Family, (866) 634-0008; or online at www.kathys-family.com .
Soothe and Moisturize
Certified herbalist Chin Velasquez has created a foot cream that isn’t too tingly like some foot creams. Lavender Peppermint Foot Cream is the perfect moisturizing lotion for your feet. It’s light, smells good and soothes without overwhelming your senses. For more information contact Soothing Herbals, (540) 460-2722; or online at www.soothingherbals.com.
Relax and rest your feet with the power of Badger Foot Balm. All of our favorite essential oils for feet are wrapped up in this one: rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree and even cardamom. Soothe your feet and be soothed in mind and spirit. For more information contact W.S. Badger Co., (603) 357-2958; or online at http://badgerbalm.com.
The only way HerbWise Products could improve on its Garden Magic Skin Therapy cream would be to provide it by the vat with an accompanying snorkel so we could soak our entire bodies. Although this lotion is not named for use on feet, its healing blend of emollient and essential oils, including peppermint, rosemary, lavender and patchouli, works great on dried and cracked heels, toes and everything in between. For more information contact HerbWise Products Inc., (250) 245-3311; or online at www.herbwise.ca.
Nature’s Gate’s Shea Butter Body Stick doesn’t have “feet” in the title, but we found it to be a great way to moisturize feet on the go. It doesn’t take time to dry or rub in; just smear some on and you’re off and running. The shea butter/vitamin E combination smells great and nourishes feet. For more information contact Nature’s Gate, (866) 972-6879; or online at www.naturesgatebeauty.com.
The super soothing power of Coconut Foot Creme from Burt’s Bees will be difficult to pass up on a daily basis. That’s why we decided it’s the perfect product for pampering your peds — you won’t want to live without it. We’re sure the coconut and Vitamin E oils have something to do with the soothing wonderful feel. For more information contact Burt’s Bees online at www.burtsbees.com.
Perk up tired legs and feet with the power of the Cooling Leg and Foot Spritzer from Essential Wholesale. On a hot day, simply kick off your shoes or sandals, spritz away and feel instant relief and rejuvenation. For more information contact Essential Wholesale, (866) 252-9639; or online at www.essentialwholesale.com.
Janice Cox is the author of Natural Beauty from the Garden (Henry Holt, 1999).