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The DIY Way To Prep Your Feet For Spring

It's time to put those toes on full display, sis.

Beauty & Fashion

While it might not exactly feel like it's officially springtime right now (I recently read that many states are currently experiencing some of the coldest temperatures for this time of year), that doesn't mean that you shouldn't get those feet of yours spring season ready. And while it would be oh so nice to simply set a pedicure appointment at your favorite nail salon, your budget—or shoot, in 2020, the government—may not make that very easy or probable; not for a while anyway.

Good thing there are some ways that you can both prep as well as pamper your feet at home. If you get the right ingredients and set the right atmosphere—light a soy candle, put on some of your favorite music and make sure that you've got a basin that's big enough to put both of your feet in—your feet can still feel luxurious and your toes can still look like they are ready for every open-toe pump and pair of sandals that you've got.

Soak Your Feet in Lavender and Rosewater

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Aside from the fact that soaking your feet can feel totally amazing, there are some health benefits that come with doing it too. If the water is super warm (to the point of being almost hot), it can increase blood circulation and reduce inflammation. If you add 10 drops of lavender essential oil to your soak, the oil will relieve anxiety, decrease insomnia and offer up a lingering scent that is soft as well as feminine. Then, if you pour a half cup of rosewater into the water, it will help to maintain the pH balance of your feet's skin, lighten the appearance of any discoloration or scars your feet may have and, nourish and moisturize your feet too. Can't you already feel the instant relief?

Scrub Your Feet with Strawberries and Honey

I can't think of one part of our body that can't benefit from a good old-fashioned DIY scrub. One that personally tops my list is a strawberry and honey foot scrub. Because strawberries are loaded with Vitamin C, they can help your body to produce the collagen that your feet need in order to keep looking young (yes, your feet can age too). Strawberries also have folic acid which helps your feet to produce new skin cells. Something else that strawberries contain is the antioxidant ellagic acid; it protects your skin from damaging UV rays that will only get stronger during the spring season. As far as honey goes, it's a humectant (it pulls moisture from the air), so it helps to keep your skin moisturized. Honey is also a natural antiseptic, an exfoliant, and it even contains properties that help to brighten your complexion. If you're all about giving this particular scrub a shot, click here for some step-by-step instructions.

Baking Soda Removes Dead Skin

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Putting three tablespoons of baking soda into a basin of warm water and then letting your feet soak for 20 minutes or so is a wonderful way to remove any dead skin that your feet may have on them. That's because baking soda serves as an alkaline ingredient that naturally exfoliates. Plus, its gritty texture can make your feet smooth too. Just be sure to avoid this tip if you happen to have sensitive skin. Baking soda is pretty powerful and, sometimes it can throw off your skin's pH balance if you've got naturally sensitive skin. Otherwise, you should be all good.

Heal Cracked Heels with Some Mouthwash

If you happen to have any Listerine in your house, did you know that it's a great way to get rid of cracked heels? The reason why is because it contains the ingredient methyl salicylate which actually acts similar to salicylic acid which is found in a lot of anti-aging products.

What both of these things do is they exfoliate the skin; especially really dry skin. As a bonus, Listerine is a disinfectant that is able to treat foot issues like athlete's foot and toenail fungal infections.

Use Carmex for Your Cuticles

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If you moisturize your feet on a daily basis, you won't have to rely on cuticle oil much. But if you notice that your nails are dry and cracked, applying some Carmex can help to give your cuticles moisture as well as protect them and your nails from damage. Is there some special ingredient that it contains? Not really. It just happens to be cheaper than a lot of cuticle oil brands; thicker too.

Try Some Mint and Lime

I wouldn't be surprised, in the least if, the last thing that you considered to be a great treatment for your feet is a mint and lime combo. But it is. If you think about the menthol that's in mint, you can probably already imagine just how invigorating it will make your feet feel. Some other good things about mint is it's able to brighten the skin tone of your feet as the properties in mint also lock in moisture. Another cool thing about mint is it's a mild astringent that is able to deeply cleanse your feet too. And, it has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to soothe any bug bites that you might experience as the weather heats up. Lime? Its juice is able to naturally treat dark spots, its citric acid can remove dead skin and also, thanks to its antioxidant, disinfectant and antibiotic properties, lime can also help to protect your feet from infection. Simply mix two cups of Epsom salt with the juice of one lime, five drops of peppermint essential oil and a half-cup of baking soda. Soak your feet for 20 minutes and it will be the ultimate pick-me-up.

If Your Feet Are Extra Dry, Use Apple Cider Vinegar

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If you fill a basin with hot water, a half-cup of apple cider vinegar and a few drops of your favorite essential oil, you will have just created a solution to ashiness. Between apple cider vinegar's anti-inflammatory properties and its acetic acid and alpha hydroxy acid, it is a way to soothe swollen feet and exfoliate them while healing dry skin. As a bonus, apple cider vinegar is an effective foot fungus killer. Soaking for about 15-20 minutes so do the trick.

Cypress Oil Will Deodorize Them

One site that I personally dig a lot is Dr. Axe. So, when I first heard about cypress essential oil, I Googled his site, just to see what his thoughts were on it. I was sold. If you like to wear a woodsy/spicy kind of scent, that's basically the best way to describe how the oil smells. As far as how it can benefit you, cypress is an oil that helps to heal wounds and infections, detoxes the body, treats respiratory issues, relieves muscle cramps and softens the appearance of varicose veins and cellulite. Know what else it does? It serves as a natural deodorant; that's because it has the reputation for being a super astringent. Putting a couple of drops on your feet (along with a carrier oil) can nix any odor, plus it can provide a big energy boost as well.

Vodka Will Refresh Your Feet

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Between you and me—do your feet stink? If so, pick up some vodka (if you don't already have some).

The reason why vodka works is because it contains a property known as ethanol which is a non-toxic antiseptic that kills odor-causing bacteria. If you really want to knock the funk out, add about 15 drops of tea tree essential oil; it has antibacterial and antifungal properties in it.

Just pour a half cup of vodka, along with the oil into a glass (or plastic if you want to carry the bottle around in your purse) bottle and shake it (so that the vodka and oil blend well together). Then spray your feet whenever you feel the need.

Sleep “in” Some Vicks or Some Aloe Vera Gel

Do you want to take pampering your feet to another level? If so, get yourself some 100 percent pure Aloe vera gel. It has vitamins A, C and E in it. It is loaded with antioxidants. Aloe vera also contains lupeol, which is a property that acts as an antiseptic and analgesic (something that relieves pain). And, it is a great moisturizer and wound healer. Before turning in at night, wash your feet and pat them dry. Apply some coconut, sweet almond or grapeseed oil on your feet. Then, apply a thick layer of Aloe vera (make sure to get in between your toes too), put on some cotton socks and go to bed. The oil will penetrate deeply into your feet as the Aloe vera seals the oil in and protects your feet in the process. You'll wake up to your feet feeling softer than your hands. And you'll absolutely love it!

Ever Wonder How to Cut Your Toenails Properly?

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Once your feet are looking and feeling great, it's time to get to your actual toenails. First, it's best to use toenail clippers instead of fingernail clippers. They're bigger and will help you to get a more "clean" cut. Cut each toenail straight across, avoiding curving around the edges; that can lead to ingrown nails, if you're not careful. Speaking of preventing ingrown nails, also don't cut your nails too short. If you want to even your nails out a bit, use a nail file instead.

Also, avoid cutting your toenails immediately after getting out of the tub. Nails have a tendency to bend or tear if you cut them while they are wet or damp. Give them about an hour to dry. Oh, and whatever you do, definitely do not cut your cuticles; that could lead to bleeding or infection. Use cuticle sticks to push them back instead.

You Ready for Some Toe Polish Hacks (That Also Work for Nails Too)?

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DIY toe separators. Both of my fourth toes are a little closer to my third than I would like. One way to keep them from running into each other is I use toe separators. If you don't have time to run to a beauty supply store to get some, get a sponge while you're grocery shopping instead. Cut them into rectangular shapes and you'll be good to go.

Dip your toes in cold water. If, while polishing your nails, you are pressed for time, something that you can do to speed up the drying process is to put your nails into cold water first. It will help the polish on your nails to harden faster. Just make sure that the water is ice cold; as cold as you can possibly stand it. That's how you can get the best results.

Use steam to create a matte look. I don't know about you, but absolutely adore matte nails. One way to get that kind of finish is first, to put a dash of cornflower into your polish. Then, paint your nails like normal and to put them in front of some steam. For your nails, you can simply put them over a pot of boiled water. For your toes, try a clothes steamer; that should work.

Try a tea bag to fix a broken nail. Broken nails are the absolute worst. An awesome workaround hack is to empty all of the contents of tea bag out. Then, cut a small piece of the bag, place it where the break is, secure it with nail glue and polish your nails like normal. If that sounds too to be true, this video serves as a cool confirmation. Just keep in mind that this works for natural nails only.

Put a rubber band on your polish. Don't you just hate it when you can't seem to open a bottle of polish, no matter how hard you try? Rather than using the back of your teeth, put a rubber band on the top of the bottle instead. It will—or at least, should—make it so much easier to open.

One of the best things about springtime is it gives us the opportunity to retire our boots and pull out the strappy heels. If you follow these DIY tips, you'll literally be able to put your best foot—well, feet—forward all spring long. Happy springtime, y'all!

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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