Despite our year-round longing for summer, the woeful state of our feet suggest its arrival still comes as something of a shock. As soon as the sun makes an appearance, out scuttle rough, gnarly, unloved feet like lice from under a rock, prematurely out and about in flip-flops and Birkenstocks. I’m as negligent as the next women (not having to bother much with foot maintenance and fastidious hair removal are two of winter’s many joys), but even so I am loth to expose my bare toes without first giving them a thorough tune-up.
If you have the means, or an excuse to treat yourself, I wholeheartedly recommend a salon pedicure. My favourites are by Margaret Dabbs and Cowshed, chiefly because they’re of the satisfyingly robust, hard-skin-filing variety (essential), not the stroky, holistic kind that represent a maddeningly wasted opportunity.
That said, you can save your cash and make a very good job of things at home. Before a warm bath, use a foot file to remove hard skin. If this is a year-round problem for you, it may be worth investing in a Scholl Pedi Velvet Smooth electronic file (£29.99). There are lots of these on the market now, but this happens to be my favourite. Otherwise, a manual file works brilliantly (it will require a bit of elbow grease) and costs very little. Saw the flat of the file vigorously across heels, balls and toe edges (never on the tops of the feet) until all greyness has gone, and ideally do so on the shower floor or over an old newspaper, to catch the gross fallout, then soak in the bath.
You can smooth the tops of the feet with a foot or body scrub now, if you like – I love Cowshed’s On The Hoof (£22), but Garnier Body Tonic Sugar Scrub (£3.55) is also excellent – then pat dry and slather on foot cream. I’m more interested in use than ornament where this is concerned, so opt for the highly effective but fairly unsexy Deciem Heel Chemistry (£14.99), which is also brilliant on very dry hands. Slather on, rubbing in firmly, and pop on some cotton socks overnight. Next morning, clip and file nails straight across, then paint. I favour a non-frosty polish, and find dark red flatters all skin tones, but really, when your feet look nice, anything goes: navy, coral or yolky yellow are all cheering against summer sandals.
- Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Makeup: Lauren Oakey. Hair: Javier Encina-Jones at Simon Webster, Brighton