Some Tips for Putting Your Best Foot Forward

STAMFORD ADVOCATE

Does sandal season make you feel like sticking your toes in the sand? Pedicures can smooth calluses, remove dry, flaky skin and give your toenails polish. If you want a fresh look, you might try this season's palette of fruity polish colors, including some electric pastel greens and blues.

"We have a lot of new colors . . . things that are kind of whimsical, like Key Lime Pie, for example," says Rhonda Stefanick, pedicurist at the Noelle Spa for Beauty & Wellness in Stamford, Conn. "They are young and fun but probably not for everybody."

For a more sophisticated look, she suggests sheer, pale pinks, bright corals or French manicures. "The one thing you don't want to do this year is the really dark vamp colors," she says. "Those blood-reds are out."

You can give yourself a pedicure at home, but if you take your feet to a salon, make sure it is one that is clean and follows hygienic procedures, advises podiatrist Marissa Girolamo.

The proliferation of inexpensive nail salons means pedicures have become more affordable and sometimes sloppier, says Girolamo. "I have been treating a lot more fungal infections of the toes in younger women, and it's something I attribute to the prevalence of pedicures," says Girolamo. She says problems can occur when dirt and bacteria get trapped under the nail bed.

Her suggestions for keeping a salon pedicure healthy include bringing your own grooming instruments and polish. Although Girolamo says there are no studies linking contaminated polish to infections, she says, "I would just err on the side of caution."

Stefanick, who wears surgical gloves when performing pedicures and produces fresh instruments cleaned in an autoclave and stored in vacuum-sealed bags before every pedicure, says some of her customers are surprised at the steps the salon takes to protect them. "When a new client sees I'm wearing gloves they are surprised, but when we explain it's for their protection, they understand," she says.

She gets feet silky smooth using scrubs made of crushed roses, herbs, sugar and oil she blends for each customer. "It exfoliates wonderfully and smells good too," she says, as she wraps a client's feet in warm towels after a special scrub. "People really love it."

Stefanick always files nails straight across to prevent ingrown toenails and does not cut cuticles, moisturizing them with oil instead. "You have cuticles for a reason--for protection," says Stefanick, who will clip a stray hangnail now and then.

Girolamo says you can give yourself a decent pedicure at home by scrubbing feet with a pumice stone to reduce calluses, filing nails straight across and rubbing some cream into your feet. "[But] the best way to keep your feet looking good is to wear comfortable shoes," Girolamo says.

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