Back in January, I decided to eschew my fixation with having varnished toes in favour of going lacquer-free, while applying oils and unguents.
This was something of a Herculean task, given that my first word upon coming round after nearly dying a few years ago was ‘pedicure’.
Still, I was determined to get my feet prepped for spring exposure.
I invested in such a vast vat of Cuccio Milk & Honey Cuticle Oil (£8.96 for 75ml, amazon.co.uk) that I could drown my extremities in it.
I also bought CND Rescue RXx Daily Keratin Treatment (£12.75 for 15ml, amazon.co.uk), which I’m told foot models swear by.
UK-based beauty columnist Hannah Betts reveals how a posh pedi has prepared her feet for spring exposure (file image)
Next stop, a Margaret Dabbs London medical pedicure (from £85, margaretdabbs.co.uk), the ultimate foot facial with an expert podiatrist, which addresses not just the beauty of your trotters but also how they get you about.
Margaret changed the state of the nation’s feet when she set up shop some 20 years ago.
Then, as she notes, ‘no one knew what podiatry meant’. Today, she runs ten clinics in the UK and has one of the world’s best-selling foot, leg and hand ranges.
The medi pedi is a joy. Each 45-minute appointment is tailored to the patient, but will include a consultation, diagnosis and surgical chiropody-style treatment in which the feet are polished and perfected.
Despite having 2D laser scanning at his disposal, my foot whisperer, Nico Jimeno, prefers to start with his eyes. From the moment I stagger through his door, he is analysing my gait, the way I sit, my feet and the bottom of my shoes.
One ankle seems puffy, and we find a cut has caused this. Were my hips dislocated at birth, remedied with double nappies? They were! I appear to have a spinal asymmetry (confirmed by scanning), which I compensate for by contorting myself cross-legged when seated.
The talk is less about aesthetics, and more about biomechanics, with Nico deeming my feet ‘good, solid, strong’. I don’t have a genetic tendency for bunions a la Victoria Beckham. My shortened Achilles tendon from stiletto-sporting has been improved by going barefoot during lockdown.
Nico notes a chemical shadow from using foot-peel socks, which is a worry as I only tried them once, years ago. The medical view is that using these is ‘like trying to kill a fly with a bazooka’.
Were my feet less Stakhanovite, they might be blasted with lasers, injected with corticosteroids, dry-needled, strapped with tape, given orthotics or have exercises proposed for them. As it is, I am lucky — for now.
Hannah (pictured) revealed that she lives for Margaret Dabbs London’s Intensive Treatment Foot Oil, Pure Repairing Nail & Cuticle Treatment Pen and Pure Cracked Heel Treatment Balm
I say this because middle-age is when foot problems tend to kick off, as gravity takes its toll not merely upon the jowls and backside, but the arches, too.
‘It’s the same as with our faces, teeth and eyes,’ laughs Margaret. ‘At about 43, you suddenly feel as if you need glasses, root canal work and a facelift.’
This is the moment also to keep tabs on one’s feet, as leaving things too late can leave people crippled.
As Nico observes: ‘In Spain, where I’m from, people go to the podiatrist every three weeks. Our old people are very mobile and thus very sociable, with their foot health keeping them alive and living well. Podiatry is the ultimate anti-ageing treatment. Having weak feet is dangerous.’
Happily, turning the situation around is simple. Drying after washing has an enormous effect on dodgy bacterial activity. Nico says: ‘If people dried their feet, I’d have only half the patients.’ He and Margaret use a hairdryer.
Socks and stockings should be breathable — cotton, merino, hemp or bamboo — and shoes must be kept clean. ‘You wash your clothes after one wear. When do you ever clean inside your shoes?’ says Nico.
Margaret’s holy trinity is her Professional Foot File (£26, margaretdabbs.co.uk), Intensive Hydrating Foot Lotion (£26 for 200ml) and Foot Hygiene Cream (£20 for 100g).
Personally, I live for her Intensive Treatment Foot Oil (£22 for 100ml), Pure Repairing Nail & Cuticle Treatment Pen (£12) and new Pure Cracked Heel Treatment Balm (£18 for 30ml).
Margaret’s wares are so nourishing that I can use them everywhere — I spritz the oil on to my elbows, apply the pen to my lips and brows, and let the balm sink into my hands.
My post-pedi shiny nails lasted for three weeks. Then it was on with my latest obsession: Leighton Denny’s Vixen (£12, leightondenny.com), a deep fuchsia berry.
RACE YOU TO IT
Founded by hairstylist Jonathan Van Ness, from the hit Netflix show Queer Eye, JVN Hair has become Space NK’s fastest selling hair brand in more than 30 years since launching in the UK this month. And it’s fantastic. The Embody Daily Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner (both £16, spacenk.com) inspire constant hair-tossing.
MY ICON OF THE WEEK
Penelope Cruz, 47, (pictured) relies on dry body-brushing and jade-rolling to give her skin a youthful glow
The film star, 47, relies on dry body-brushing and jade-rolling to give her skin a youthful glow. She also does her own hair, having grown up in her mum’s salon. Cruz is a Lancome poster girl, and loves the brand’s Advanced Genifique Serum (£60 for 30ml, lancome.co.uk), Renergie Multi Lift Ultra Cream (£50) and Hypnose Mascara (£28.50).
This super-size toner is available only online from today until midnight tomorrow.
The price of this oil reflects its quality ingredients, so it’s worth saving for.
This boasts skin-perfecting hyaluronic acid and niacinamide.
The liquid formula gives a luminous look at half the price of most bases, and comes in 40 shades.
A plush pink shade from Vieve founder and make-up pro Jamie Genevieve. It’s blendable and long-lasting on older mouths.
Created in 1906, Jacques Guerlain’s orris (iris root) masterpiece Apres L’Ondee evokes the scent of drenched hawthorn apres l’ondee (after the rain shower).
Beautifully climactic, it sets the coolness of a cloudburst against earthy, underlying warmth. The result is sublime and pulsating with life; it’s truly one of the greatest scents ever created.
Women adore it for its tender, emotional aspect: Linda Radlett wears it as she languishes in a Spanish Civil War refugee camp, in Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit Of Love. Men are driven wild by its suggestion of powdered, feminine skin. Either way, it is exquisite.