Sky-high mules in jeweled, suede and metallic varieties marched down the spring 2012 runway recently, leading a New York Times blogger to become self-conscious about her ballet-beaten feet. Consequently, writer Chelsea Zalopany visited some of the Big Apple's most luxurious spas seeking treatment for her busted heels.
She spoke with specialists at Institute Beaute and Julien Farel Salon about their top recommendations to give their clients pretty feet – whether they have bunions, hammer toe or cracked heels.
At the first salon, Zalopany received a foot treatment complete with an exfoliating spray, an anti-inflammatory injection and some advice on how to take care of her feet. The podiatrist, Suzanne Levine, told the blogger to scrub her feet at home with a mixture of kosher salt, mineral oil and ground coffee, as well as take vitamin K regularly, which she said may help reduce bruising.
"If you take care of your feet, you can wear any type of shoe," Levine said, quoted by the news source. "When you’re in your 20s, your feet don’t hurt and you can wear huge stilettos. It’s when you’re in your 30s that the deformities begin to show."
Next, Zalopany visited the Julien Farel Salon where she was advised to soak her feet in a seaweed bath, moisturize regularly and try reflexology, which may reduce stress in the feet and promote circulation.
While these treatments won't be curative for ladies with bunions or hammer toe, they may provide temporary pain relief or reduce the appearance of bony deformities by eliminating calloused or irritated skin.
Oprah – who everyone knows has pretty severe bunions – featured an article on her website providing instructions on making at-home foot baths to soothe feet and soften calluses.
The first homemade treatment is meant to provide a warming sensation to the feet. Begin by pouring hot water into a basin, making sure that the temperature is not scalding. Then, add a teaspoon of ground mustard seed, three or four drops of chamomile oil and some chamomile flowers to the water. Soak feet for about 20 minutes before drying and using a luxurious moisturizer.
The next soak can give a cooling effect to stressed bunions. Place flat, smooth stones – like those found at garden stores – in the bottom of a basin and fill it with lukewarm water. Add three or four drops of peppermint oil, a sliced lemon and a handful of torn mint leaves to the water before dipping feet in.