I try really hard to be a 'good feminist' and appreciate all the parts of my body I’ve been made to believe are ugly, and needing ‘to be fixed’.
I see my wrinkles as a sign of happy laughter, my stretch marks as a sign of happy babies, and my dry, calloused feet as a sign of happy barefoot summer days, walking on hot sand, hot asphalt, and clambering around rock pools. Happy, happy times.
But despite those happiest of memories, I absolutely cannot get on board with seeing my beach feet in city shoes. And who wants to wear covered shoes all summer?
So I took lockdown as an opportunity to finally give myself a foot mask.
I’ve wanted to do one for the longest time, but I do a lot of yoga and have heard horror stories about people leaving foot casings all over their mats. Ugh! I wasn’t entirely sure I believed the hype but figured it was as good a time as any to try it.
I ordered two masks online. The first, the Double Effect Foot Peeling mask from locally-owned Korean beauty store Hikoco, which I ordered for my husband, and the second, the Tony Moly Shiny Foot Super Liquid mask from Farmers which I ordered for myself, for $22.
I’m not here to cause tension in my marriage or body shame my husband but it’s fair to say his feet are in need of some TLC. I’m not sure any acid in the world is strong enough to penetrate his rough callouses. And sadly his big enormous man feet (again, no judgement on the size of his feet, I’m also not trying to be Shailene Woodley-coy here) were no match for the petite baggies that the Double Effect Foot Peeling mask provided. They tore on sight, leaving the entire experiment to cult Korean skincare brand Tony Moly and me.
This mask had really easy to follow instructions and was big enough for a large Pākeha hoof to trod into. You step into cute little booties, squirt the liquid inside them (brrr!) and fasten with the in-built ties. (I put a towel under my feet in case of spillage but everything was well-contained). Then you apply a hefty amount of patience.
The packet suggests waiting an hour to an hour and a half. I got caught up doing a jigsaw puzzle so it was probably a good ninety minutes before I trotted off to the shower (again, no spillage onto the carpet) and rinsed them off.
Over the next few days I checked my feet excitedly. Nothing.
Deflated, I’d almost forgotten about it. Put it in the confines of outrageously untrue beauty claims. Then, after about a week, I looked at the black sofa I’d been resting my feet on while watching TV. It was covered in what looked like pieces of very large dandruff. I looked closer.
My feet were shedding skin; like a snake or a lizard growing up too fast.
Over the next couple of days living with my feet was a curious combination of fascination and disgust. I took to wearing socks around the house, so as not to shed on the carpet, on the furniture, or in my bed. I showered with a loofah and would rub them with curiosity and glee each morning.
At night I would sit and peel them in the most satisfying of manners. Like terrible sunburn, but without trauma, pain or shame. (At this point of the experiment I must admit to feeling grateful that my husband wasn’t partaking. I was not willing to have those peeling size 13 feet in my bed at night).
The Tony Moly foot mask uses salicylic and glycolic acids for gentle yet effective exfoliation, and argan and peppermint oils to nourish. The results are truly unbelievable. After about four days of sleeping in socks and scrubbing my feet in the shower (and nearly two weeks after doing the mask) they suddenly appeared literally as soft as a baby. Like they’d never stepped foot on a mollusc filled rocky outcrop in their lives.
I now get to enjoy all the lovely barefoot activities and wear my favourite sandals. I’ve since spoken to people who use a foot mask as part of their regular beauty routine. It’s certainly going to become one of mine.
Other foot beautifying products we’ve heard good things about:
Patchology Best Foot Forward Softening Heel and Foot Mask, $16, from Mecca
Double Effect Foot Peeling Mask, $8, from Hikoco (NB not for the very large of foot!)
Skin Republic Foot Mask Intensive Repair, $8, from Countdown
And for some beautifying IRL of course you can’t go past a pedicure. We rate a traditional Chinese one, such as that at Nature Reflexology, from $59, on Tāmaki Makaurau’s North Shore (Ensemble co-founder Zoe Walker Ahwa highly recommends this spot, although says to not expect anything super luxe).
Adornments worthy of your newly beautiful feet:
Meadowlark anklet, from $99
Mi Piaci wedges, $280
La Tribe mule, $319
Jasmin Sparrow anklet, $649
Bronwyn heels, $350