Just about every adult on the planet has calluses. Women who wear high heels, men who wear workboots, people who go barefoot, and anyone who spends most of the day standing, get them on their feet. People who lift free-weights, play a stringed instrument, or use their hands to make a living, get them on their fingers and palms. I get them in the summer, on the sides of my feet, because I don't like to wear shoes, and tend to sit with my feet curled up under me.
Having calluses isn't a bad thing, in fact, they're part of the body's natural defense to protect your skin from injury. The only problem is that as we continue to do the activities that cause calluses, they can keep thickening until the skin becomes hard, dry, and can sometimes even crack and bleed.
So what is a person to do about these unsightly areas? The good news is that with a little bit of home maintenance, and regular trips to see your favorite nail technician, you can have healthy skin in no time!
**Side note for the guys out there**
I often hear men say that manicures and pedicures are for women only, and that it's too effeminate (or "gay") for a 'real' man. Let me tell you something though Mister, it's not all about painting your nails; it's skin care we're talking here. Now, if your wife or girlfriend flinches when you caress her cheek because your rough, dry skin is in danger of cutting her open, how good do do you think your chances are of getting to touch her other, more sensitive bits? Trust me here, go get the mani/pedi. No one will take away your man card, and the woman in your life will thank you!
I'm going to assume that you've read my post on NSS salons, and that you've gone, or are going, to see a reputable nail technician for a treatment on your hands and/or feet. It's important to see a professional regularly, because they have products and tools that you can't use safely at home. So get a pedicure every one or two months, and a manicure every two to four weeks. It's not that expensive and you can schedule them to coincide with your regular haircut.
Now we're going to talk about what you should be doing at home, between salon visits, to keep your skin looking good and feeling smooth.
To prevent the build up of calluses, use a good sugar scrub on your problem areas in the shower or bath every day. I recommend sugar scrubs because the sugar dissolves as you scrub, preventing over scrubbing and the development of sore spots (which just make calluses build up faster). You can also purchase salt and pumice scrubs, but they can be a little too abrasive, especially for every day use. Scrubbing once a day will work for most people, but if you have especially thick calluses you can use the scrub twice a day until the hardened skin is more manageable.
Next, lotion, lotion, lotion! I can't tell you how much a good lotion can help smooth out rough, dry calluses. Use lotion on your hands every time you wash them, and on your feet twice a day. For hand and body, I like Qtica Smart Spa lotions, and for feet, CND's non-greasy Cucumber Heel Therapy can't be beat. Most importantly though, what you're looking for is a lotion that has a low alcohol content, and moisturizing skin oils like Vitamin E, Sweet Almond Oil, and Jojoba.
A good soak can also really help penetrate thickened skin as well. If you're you're abusing your hands or feet on a daily basis, try soaking them once a week for five to ten minutes in water that has bath oils, or a mani/pedi soak mixed in. Be sure to finish up your soak with lotion to keep your calluses soft and smooth.
Last but not least is to resist the temptation to cut off your calluses! I know they can get annoying, and sometimes even painful when they start to get really thick, but cutting them off only makes your body rebuild them faster. They're there for a reason, you need your calluses, so you should never, ever cut or file them off completely. Also, if your nail tech ever uses a blade on your feet to cut your calluses, stop the service and leave the establishment! Cutting calluses in a salon is illegal in most US states, so if your tech does it as part of a pedicure, there's a good chance you're in a NSS.
If your calluses are getting too thick to handle, and you just can't make it into the salon for a treatment, use a medium to fine grit file, or a pumice stone to bring them down a little bit after you've soaked them. If you're a guy, I'll even let you use a fine grit sand paper to do the job (in the interest of making sure you're able to keep your man card); use 150 grit or higher. Don't take them down too far, just file off the dead skin on top, and then moisturize with lotion when you're done. If you use your sugar scrub daily though, you shouldn't have to file your calluses down between salon visits.
That's it, that's all there is. Keeping your hands and feet soft and smooth is as easy as brushing your teeth or washing your hair. So now there's no excuse not to have skin that your significant other will love to touch (I'm talking to you guys out there)!
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