My Feet Are Like Sandpaper – And How To Prevent It

With August in full swing, and hopefully some more beach holidays happening this year, pedicure season is well and truly upon us.  At the Sangha House, we have some truly beautiful foot treatments available, but I want to talk today about sustained footcare.

Have you ever noticed that, when you spend time barefoot on the beach, or slipping into your flip-flops, your feet feel rougher and more in need of treatment?  Why on earth is that – surely our feet should feel lovely and smooth, with all that exfoliating sand, and not cramming your feet into “proper” shoes?  Well, it turns out that, it’s all about the sweat and your feet trying to protect themselves!  Intrigued?  Read on…

When our feet sweat, it’s actually to hydrate themselves and shock absorbing dry skin.  When you’re on the beach, or even just wearing flip flops or rubber soled sandals, the sweat evaporates much more quickly; essentially you’re wicking away hydration.  Combine this with the effects of salt water, which will also dry things out even more, and the rubbing of the sand on the skin, and your feet will go into “crisis mode”.  However, if you make sure that you rinse off all the salt residue after you go back to your accommodation at the end of the day, and use a good foot cream, you should be able to hold off any roughness.  What happens if you have got that rough feeling?

Rough, thickened skin and calluses are formed when the body feels that it is under attack, and it’s an attempt to protect itself by thickening the layers of skin.  It’s really tempting to think, ok, I’ll be really organised here, and use my emery board to get rid of the rough bits.  Please don’t!  Your skin is already feeling under attack from the sand and salt, so by aggressive filing of hard skin and calluses, this will just encourage more skin thickening to occur for protection – essentially, you’re creating the problem you’re trying to solve!

So, how can we help?  The solution is to make sure you have a plan in place before you go away.  You should make sure that the rough skin is removed gently, so there isn’t that thick layer already in place which will just dry out and rub when you’re on the beach.  This can be done with a gentle enzyme foot peel from a reputable company.  Then you’ll need a good foot cream, which I’ll come back to in a moment.  If you’re really serious about footcare on holiday, we recommend that you take a high grade omega 3 supplement every day, which will help your skin to repair any damage.  Finally, when you come back from holiday, do make sure you schedule in another peel and continue with the cream.

Can we also take a moment to talk about moisturiser too?  You may not know this, but moisturisers aid the skin in two different ways, and for the best possible result, you need to utilise both methods – basically, all moisturisers (yes, all those shelves full in the chemist) fall into two categories.  The first is the humectants, which form bonds with water molecules and help draw moisture into the skin’s surface from the lower layers in the skin or from the surrounding environment (hello, humid weather).  The best ingredients to look for are glycerin, sodium PCA and hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies already.  The second type are the occlusives, which repel water.  They sit on the surface of the skin, acting as a protective layer and preventing water in the skin from evaporating, strengthening the moisture barrier.  Our picks for this are shea butter, mango butter or cocoa butter, or if this feels too greasy, anything containing squalene or a ceramide complex, which strengthens the skin’s own lipid, or fat, barrier to prevent water loss. 

So, in short, this is what we recommend:

GENTLE removal of hard skin – the mantra is “smooth, not remove”

Application of humectant cream, followed by application of occlusive cream. You can put a pair of socks on too, to help them soak into the skin

Daily high-grade Omega-3 food supplement to assist with tissue repair

Further gentle hard skin removal after your holiday

Of course, we can help you with all this.  We recommend a post-holiday pedicure as well as a pre-holiday one, and don’t forget, pedicures are for life, not just for the summer.  We can help you keep that deliciously soft and comfortable feeling year-round.