Hemlines are up and down, tans are coming back but the untanned, well-shaded look is still in. About the only fashion statement that feels inevitable for summer 2001 is that your toenails are going to catch some rays.
Suddenly, pedicures don't seem totally decadent but, rather, a way for your feet to save face now that your winter boots are in storage. Even women who value their calluses -- hockey, anyone? -- are checking out the new opalescent nail polishes, like Revlon's Tidal Wave. They're a quick and cheap way to make a body-art statement.
If you've never had a pedicure, you might consider going to a pro to kick off the foot-forward season, and plan to maintain your great feet by yourself. It doesn't have to cost a bomb; even over-the-top high-end salons like the Spa at Elmwood charge a standard $45. Watch everything that gets done -- this can be a useful learning experience.
But be careful: there are hygiene issues. If the aesthetician's pedicure instruments are not kept scrupulously clean, you can pick up nasty fungal and bacterial infections. If tools are being properly sterilized there should be visible evidence. If you don't see any, ask.
And don't let anyone near your feet with a blade. The horror stories about women leaving the salon with bleeding feet are not just urban legends.
If you want to plunge into do-it-yourself mode, the pros agree on the basic steps to a perfect pedicure.
Soak your feet. Twenty minutes in warm water starts to soften calluses and combats odours. You can get added bang by using a foot-soak product, a few drops of an essential oil or even (the dancers' trick) Epsom salts. If you want, skip the foot basin and start your pedicure with a relaxing total-body soak in the tub.
Massage and exfoliate your feet. This is where it's nice to have a friend help out. A pumice stone or an emory-board-type foot file is as far as you should go for callus reduction. There are lots of self-indulgent foot exfoliants on the market, but coarse salt mixed with olive oil works as an inexpensive, all-natural alternative. If you have diabetes or a circulatory problem, seek medical advice first.
Be gentle with your cuticles. Push them back gently with a cotton-covered orange stick. Dry your feet well, especially between your toes. Trimming your nails straight across helps prevent ingrown toenails.
Polish looks great, but it's actually healthier to buff your nails to a shine and leave them au naturel. If you do go for colour, use a clear undercoat to prevent stains. Spreading the toes makes polishing the nails easier -- tissue rolled into a rope is cheap and hygienic.
Moisturize feet before polishing, and use polish remover to clean your nails before you paint. Solvent-dipped cotton swabs get rid of mistakes.
Finally, a little oil on the polish, once it's set but before it's hard, prevents smears. If you need to put shoes on, use plastic wrap to shield your toes.feeting frenzy