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Finding Time to Pamper Yourself

Here are some great ways to pamper your feet.


Foot Pamper
Feet are a much-maligned part of our anatomy. We wear too-small shoes and high heels until we get blisters, stub our toes, expose them to fungus at the gym - and still we expect them to carry us around. Despite the abuse, we pay little attention to our feet until they hurt or we put on a pair of toe-revealing sandals.

"People neglect their feet," says Audrey Maxwell, spa supervisor and reflexologist for Vista Clara Ranch Resort and Spa in Galisteo, N.M. "They come in with callus buildup and dry skin, sometimes cracked and bleeding, hoping for miracles in one treatment." Though herbal remedies and a professional pedicure can revive your road-weary feet, nothing compensates for months of neglect. Instead, you should routinely pamper your feet to keep them in shape.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

If your feet need help feeling better, take some tips from Mother Nature's Guide to Vibrant Beauty & Health by Myra Cameron and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo.

Try these soaks for tired feet:

* Pour 1/2 cup of Epsom salt into your foot bath to ease muscle aches.

* Brew double-strength tea with chamomile, comfrey, horsetail, lavender, mint or sage. Strain into the foot bath.

* Swish 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar and 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice into tepid foot-bath water.

Follow these steps to comfort Athlete's foot:

1. Remove athletic shoes immediately after perspiration-producing activities. Wear leather sandals whenever possible.

2. Soak feet daily in a foot bath of chamomile and thyme tea. Or, add a few drops of antifungal tea tree oil to your foot bath.

3. Powder your feet with cornstarch to absorb moisture and reduce friction.

If you've developed a blister that needs some TLC, Maxwell advises that you make a soothing compress with a few drops of lavender oil and place it over the blistered area. Lavender is a gentle healing oil with antibacterial properties that guards against infection.

One final foot hint: Don't forget to apply sunscreen on the tops during summer so they don't get fried!

Sole Massage

Nothing melts away the strain of being on your feet all day like a foot massage. Though a professional massage is optimal, you can comfort your feet with a foot roller and your own hands. If you roll from heel to toe, you'll stimulate the reflex areas, Maxwell says. Simultaneously, the roller releases muscle tension, especially in people who have foot pain due to tight tendons.

If you really want a nice foot massage, start with a vibrating foot massager or foot bath to relax the feet and stimulate circulation. Then massage with your knuckles and fingers, using pressure on the parts of the foot that feel tender. A foot lotion or therapeutic oil containing revitalizing peppermint completes the rejuvenation.

The Pampered Pedicure

Though we think of pedicures as being cosmetic, they're also good for general foot maintenance because they prevent a build-up of dry skin and calluses. In addition, pedicures groom the nails so you'll avoid problems such as ingrown nails.

Following Maxwell's tried-and-true spa procedures, here are the steps for a natural, at-home pedicure:

1. Foot soak. A warm foot bath cleans the feet and softens skin and cuticles. Maxwell adds aromatherapy oils to the water: peppermint is refreshing and stimulating for feet; tea tree oil disinfects and deodorizes.

2. Clip and file nails. After drying your feet, carefully trim the nails, rounding out sharp edges and being sure not to cut them too short to avoid infection.

3. Cuticle care. Gently push back the cuticle. If your cuticles are tough, use a softener. Pushing back cuticles reduces the need to cut them, notes Maxwell. The cuticle is a beneficial skin/nail barrier that keeps dirt and microbes from invading. "I've heard it said you need to be a micro-surgeon to avoid cutting cuticles too much, so it's better not to do it yourself," she explains. Also, cutting the cuticle may encourage it to grow even thicker, she adds.

4. Scrub-a-dub-dub. A good foot scrub exfoliates and revs up foot circulation. At Vista Clara, Maxwell uses a treatment called Native Glow on her clients' feet. The scrub consists of Dead Sea salts (rich in minerals), blue cornmeal and almond oil, which she rubs all over feet.

5. Smooth the skin. Using a foot file or pumice stone, sand away dry skin and callused areas. To avoid a build-up of hard skin, you need to scrub at least once or twice a week in the shower.

6. Moisturize: Follow the pampering with good moisturizing, using either a creme containing nourishing shea butter, cocoa butter or natural, unrefined oils such as almond, jojoba or pure vitamin E oil.

Ultra-Soft Treatments

If your feet really need first-aid moisturizing, a hot paraffin wax treatment could be just the thing. First, apply a moisturizing creme or oil to the feel, then dip your feet into a pleasantly warm paraffin bath several times to build up a waxy encasement. Paraffin reduces swelling in the feet and joints, and the heat seals in the moisture and helps oils penetrate the skin for deep moisturizing.

Another option for deep moisturizing, says Maxell, is to slather oil on your feet and wrap them in plastic bags. Then warm two towels (wet them and heat in the microwave) and wrap them over your bagged feet. The hot oil will nourish your skin and abolish dryness.

Donna McAlister is the Founder and CEO of Truly Bliss, a Natural Bath and Beauty company that specializes in creating luxurious products to bring the spa experience into the home that assist in uplifting the mind, body, and spirit. For more information about our products visit us at Truly Bliss.

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