The best products for fabulous feet

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‘I take pleasure in making over freshly washed feet.’

I enjoy the foot challenge – thorough and robust exfoliation yields satisfying results

People often tell me they are repulsed by feet. They’re gross and repellent, apparently. And while I can see where they’re coming from – especially in winter, when dryness becomes extreme, heels crack and nails become neglected and gnarly under the cover of thick socks and tights – I must admit I enjoy the challenge. I’m not ashamed to say that just as I’ll gleefully squeeze anyone’s blackheads and extract their spots, I take pleasure in making over their (freshly washed) feet. Thorough and robust exfoliation yields satisfying results. Foot scrubs – creams containing scratchy bits – are perfectly fine and pleasant, but they’ll have zero effect on hard, calloused skin. By far the better remedy is the oldest: a foot file (not the inferior, but more expensive, mechanical or sonic kind) and elbow grease, used dry and briskly across the heels, outer toes and balls of the feet, works wonders.

My own weapon of choice is the Colossal Pedicure Foot File (£9.97) made, rather gratifyingly, by my favourite cheese grater brand, Microplane. Its expansion into personal care is inspired and its file, faultless – it removes all dead skin quickly, painlessly and efficiently (put down newspaper – the fallout is shocking), and unlike the common sandpaper style, it can be washed under the tap after each use. A foot file shouldn’t be used on broken skin, however. Deep cracks must be well on the road to recovery before you tackle the surrounding skin, so you’ll need a specialist cream in advance.

O’Keeffe’s Healthy Feet (£8.49, 91g) is magical stuff. This thick, unctuous ointment looks unappealing, but slather it on each evening for two to three nights, cover with cotton bed socks, and any cracks will all but disappear (it works wonderfully on cracked hands, too). If your feet are in reasonable nick and you favour a relaxing treatment over the down and dirty home surgery that excites me more than it should, try Seoulista Rosy Toes Instant Pedicure. These are Korean product-filled paper socks (£7.99 a pair) that in only 20 minutes, soften and smooth unloved feet. When things are back on track, treat yourself to a paint job by CND Shellac, my favourite gel polish that lasts me well over a month. My regular isDryBy at Hershesons, but see lovecnd.com for your nearest stockist.