And there are several steps you can take to prevent your tootsies from transferring germs to your hands. Shoe designer Matt Bernson, whose creations are worn by actress Amanda Seyfried and model Gisele Bundchen, has a suggestion for the legions of women who swap out their shoes when they arrive at work or home: “Carry your shoes in a shoe bag when they are in your purse.”
To banish germs, use good old-fashioned soap and water. “You want to wash your feet when you get home,” says Dr. Graf. Or in a pinch, apply an antibacterial hand sanitizer on your feet, she suggests. Also, park a pair of slippers by the front door. “In general, it’s not a good idea to come into your home with dirty shoes that have walked on every known substance and schmear it all over your house,” says Tierno.
You can help keep your skin’s protective barrier in peak condition by exfoliating dead skin cells and slathering on moisturizer, says Dr. Graf. Gently smooth rough spots and calluses with a foot file or pumice stone, such as Sally Hansen’s Prep your Pedi Foot File or Pumice Foot Polish—not with one of those callus razors, says Ji Baek, founder of RescueBeauty.com and author of Rescue Your Nails. “They’re illegal in many states,” says Baek, and they can cut your foot way too deeply. “It’s better to use a foot file and liquid soap when you get home at night.”
Or try a homemade foot soak and scrub. Donna Perillo of Manhattan’s Sweet Lily Natural Nail Spa adds warm citrus juice (grapefruit or orange) to a foot soak. “The acidity kind of eats at the grime,” she says. Follow that up with an all-natural sugar scrub, which you can make at home using granulated sugar, olive oil and your favorite essential oil. And then apply moisturizer.
Dr. Graf recommends using a lotion with skin-smoothing lactic or salicylic acid or urea before bed each night. Or you can lightly coat your feet with Vaseline petroleum jelly and then slip on cotton socks, such as Moisture Jamzz socks to protect your sheets. You’ll wake up with super-soft, germ-free feet.
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