Just call me "Blister Sister"
December 24, 2012 7:03 AM   Subscribe

Related to this post on the blue: How do you who go bare-legged in pumps do it without turning your feet into raw hamburger? Do I need to trade in my feet for an upgrade?

It seems the world is full of women who can blithely go bare-footed in work pumps and be comfortable. I'm not one of them. If I don't have a protective layer of hose or socks, my feet turn into raw hamburger. Seriously. Blisters on my heels, blisters on my toes, red marks on my insteps - I've actually wound up with blood on my feet at the end of the day. The only way I can avoid it is to pre-emptively bandage every square inch of foot where my shoes might rub, which does show and looks really unattractive; or keep coating my feet with blister-block ointment throughout the day (as it rubs off).

It can't be the fit of my shoes, because shoes that rub and hurt when I'm barefooted are perfectly comfortable when I wear nylons or tights. I can control the stink-foot issue with Lush T for Toes powder. But how do all these women who find it second nature to wear pumps with bare feet do it? Do I just have especially sensitive skin? (I do have soft, thin skin, not just on my feet.) I get regular pedicures - do you have to let calluses build up (that sounds icky, sorry, I hate to expose callused feet to the world)? Or do I just need new feet?

I wear tights during the cooler months but it might be nice to go bare-legged like everyone else in the summer when it can hit the triple digits here.
posted by Rosie M. Banks to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (40 answers total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
I put baby powder into my shoes before I put them on. Not just on the bottom - I bang the shoe around so the whole inside of the shoe is powdered. It eliminates the friction that causes blisters. Then I'm fine.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:13 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

A lot of people wear those supposedly invisible socky...things. Footies.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:13 AM on December 24, 2012

Best answer: THANK YOU for posting this. I don't know how those women do it either. I always supposed they were ethereal creatures from another dimension, whereas I was just a regular human woman.

But seriously, one thing I have found to work incredibly well is putting spray deodorant/antiperspirant on my feet before putting on the shoes. I give my feet a good spray of Suave aerosol baby-powder fresh and it makes wearing dressier shoes without socks or nylons infinitely more comfortable. I also find that synthetic materials are way worse, probably because they don't breathe.
posted by absquatulate at 7:14 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Band-Aid Active Friction Block Stick. Miraculous product. Don't buy cheap shoes -- make sure they are all leather -- and you should be good to go friction-block-stick-less (er) after a few good wearings.
posted by kmennie at 7:14 AM on December 24, 2012 [5 favorites]

My pumps don't rub or hurt me when I'm bare-foot, but my flats tend to be a whole different story. I've come to a semi-conclusion that it's the fit/shape of the shoe - pumps tend to rise higher on my ankle, for example, at least in the styles I tend to wear.
posted by sm1tten at 7:17 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't really know the answer, I just have some shoes that I can wear bare-footed. It helps that I don't do all that much walking in them (I change from flats that I wear to/from the office) and that they are real leather and nicely broken in.

Fit may be part of it. The pumps I can wear bare-footed are usually too big when I wear them with hose/tights/etc -- they slip off my heels. The hosiery seems to suck in the foot just a little bit.
posted by misskaz at 7:19 AM on December 24, 2012

You don't have to go sockless. Check out some no shows socks - there are some that are in feel and look exactly like nylons, just socks.

Also check out those little gel pads to prevent sore spots and rubbing at the back.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:20 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just only leave the house in the ones I can tolerate, OR I wear 'em and plan on sitting down a lot. But this is only for moderate-height platforms/wedges. I can't even stand up in actual heels!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 7:21 AM on December 24, 2012

I get pedicures regularly and almost never wear hose. Blisters are caused by friction and socks/hose prevent friction (or act as a barrier). I've found that shoes that fit well don't tend to rub. I wear expensive shoes and I'm pretty anal about fit since I have narrow feet.

I've been in Houston for the past year and have only worn socks with gym shoes. All other times I go bare legged - sandals, heels and flats. I don't use powder, footies, or friction sticks. I do use moleskin on two pairs of shoes that rub my heels. (I put the moleskin in the shoe, not on my foot. It doesn't show.) I have had shoes rub the first few times I've worn them because of the stiffer leather but after a few wears are fine.
posted by shoesietart at 7:27 AM on December 24, 2012

Best answer: One of the things that helps me is to have these things called Foot Petals - I tend to have the Killer Kushionz (how I hate the spelling) in a lot of my heels - helps with the sweating issue. I don't use the heel things but I know people who love them.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:29 AM on December 24, 2012

Iwhet blisters etc the first couple of times I wear a pair of shoes out. I try to wear them for short lengths of time and carry bandaids.

My feet and the shoes get used to each other and after the first 3-4 wearings I don't have a problem.
posted by bunderful at 7:37 AM on December 24, 2012

Best answer: I've never figured it out. I'm from the 'heels n hose' generation and I've never been able to wear heels without the hose.

Since I live in Atlanta, hose here in the summer is a form of torture, so I just wear sandals now.

I asked Clinton Kelly once about it and he said that if you must wear hose, get them as close to your skin tone as possible. So I have a couple of pair of hose in Casper for my legs (actually Barely There or some such) for the .5 times a year I might need to wear them.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:45 AM on December 24, 2012

Best answer: I am the opposite, don't know if that helps, but just so you know, I think there are people in this world who will never be able to go barefoot in most shoes.

A lot of shoes have sharp edges that cut my feet, even through socks, but I only find this out after walking outside in them, so I have to buy them first in order to find this out and then I can't return them.

A lot of shoes start out well but the inner sole wears off, or they have a sharp label on the sole which cuts into the soles of my feet.

Moleskin bunches up, gel spots scrape off and tear up my skin in the process, insoles slide down and painfully stuff the toebox so there's no room for my foot any more. Band-Aids get sliced or scraped through.

I'm told this is punishment for having a narrow foot with a narrow heel and wide toebox. Shoes apparently are not made for this foot shape. I also have ankle equinus, which reduces the range of motion of my ankles such that my feet can end up like diabetic feet through wear and tear.

My first line of defence is fishnet hosiery, which can be worn with open toes. Any kind of invisible sock a) is very obviously visible b) pings off my heel and works its way down to stuff the toebox. So, overt hosiery it is.

With the fishnets on, I smear Vaseline on those areas of my feet that are in contact with the shoe. I have not tried the powder thing, it's an idea, mental note made.

I have really learned that if a shoe has to be modified to not tear up my feet, it's always going to be painful in some way and I just have to throw it out. There are a few shoes I've identified as safe to wear: Topshop ballet flats which are real soft toe ballet slippers with rubber soles sewn on. (I actually spent my teen years desperately trying to make something like these, and ended up just wearing the slipoers on their own, in the face of my mother's vociferous protests that they were too "flimsy" and I needed "proper shoes for walking" or, as I experienced it, "proper shoes for cutting and bleeding". The slippers were torn apart by gravel on the second day, but I still had two days of bliss.) The Tooshop shoes are no more durable than flipflops but they do have their place. Also, Freed ballet opera shoes, which have more substantial leather soles. They are stage shoes and they do let the water in. Rocket Dog skimmers are a safe brand of sneaker that doesn't bite into my heel or otherwise attack my foot. All of these are made of leather, fabric, or at least microfiber rather than fake leather. Any other kind of ballet flat or sneaker (that I've tried) might choose to bite into my heel or it might not, but these are the ones I've identified as "safe".
posted by tel3path at 7:46 AM on December 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

This is very interesting because I am unable to wear pumps with stockings, they slide off my heels with every step. I've always wondered how people could do it. I don't know what that means, but perhaps you and other stockings people are buying your shoes on the tight side, and I and other no-stockings people are buying our shoes a little on the loose side. When you try on shoes, do you allow for your feet swelling during the day?

That said, I have really sensitive feet and I do get blisters, but it depends on the fit of the shoe - whether or not I have tights or socks or bare feet doesn't factor in. Though I'm careful to never wear fake/plastic/pleather shoes, that makes it much worse. I think some amount of blistering is inevitable if you're walking a lot, and for that I second the Band-Aid stick recommended by kmennie. It's awesome.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 7:47 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

Some people have sensitive, blister prone skin on their feet (it sounds like you're very far in that direction). Some people don't. My feet will eventually blister if shoes don't fit right, but it's unusual for me to get a blister from a well-fitting pair of shoes, even the first time I wear them.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:48 AM on December 24, 2012

Try deodorant and baby powder. But yeah some women just can't do it.
posted by radioamy at 8:07 AM on December 24, 2012

Best answer: I use foot liners. These and these are my favorites - the lowest cut I've found so they truly don't show over the tops of shoes, part cotton so they breathe a little, and they don't dig horribly into the back of my heel like some nylon ones I've tried (my feet are on the bigger side, though - 9 1/2).
posted by hilatron at 8:17 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Cheap, ill-fitting vinyl shoes are way harder on my feet than good-quality leather shoes. Try upgrading your shoe inventory. I go barefoot in my shoes all the time without any special preparation.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:18 AM on December 24, 2012

Erm, I doubt it needs to be said but just in case for anyone reading: make sure your toenails are trimmed and not sharp around the edges.
And if your pumps don't support your feet, try to get arch supports since that can cause rubbing (in my experience).

As for the bare foot vs. hose thing, I experience the same thing even in shoes I adore. I'll definitely be watching this question carefully.
posted by DisreputableDog at 8:21 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My friend in Finland bought me a pair of tiny, lacey black footies (not the brand) that she uses, so even if you kick your shoes off under your desk, they're pretty ;p
posted by infini at 8:24 AM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the helpful answers! To answer a few points raised:

- I do buy good shoes. Not expensive designer shoes, but brands like Naya, Clarks and Aerosoles from DSW. The only cheapo Payless shoes I will buy are flip-flops and sometimes evening shoes (because I don't wear them often so I don't want to waste the money on shoes I wear twice a year). I have "duck feet", alas, wide at the toe and narrow at the heel, so I take a wide size. I use those stick-on gel heel inserts for the heels - and am trying to find a brand that doesn't peel off after a few wearings; those Foot Petals look great and I am going to check them out.

- Another reason I don't think it's a fit issue is that the exact same shoes I can tromp about in all day wearing tights, give me blisters in ten minutes when I wear them with bare feet.

- All the "footies" type things I've tried bunch and wrinkle and feel awful. Perhaps a cotton pair or a more good-quality stretch pair would be better. I'll investigate. Infini - those you linked are so cute I will be on the lookout for a pair here!

- Tel3path, I think we have the same feet from the same foot factory! I will definitely buy some sheer fishnets. I do wear (black) fishnets with very dressy dresses - not the icky cheap ones from the costume store which feel like string, but fine-mesh ones from Hue and suchlike. I will also check out Topshop's ballet slippers - I adore ballet flats (though they give me blisters, too).

- Perhaps I need a better-quality blister block; if the Band-Aid brand will really stay on I will try it. And as I said, the Foot Petals are on my list to try as well.

- I get professional pedicures every few weeks and make sure my toenails are filed down in between times. My skin gets dry so I put shea butter or Lush's Sympathy for the Skin on my feet and wear socks to bed. Speaking of Lush, I put T for Toes powder in my shoes even if I'm wearing socks or tights as it works so well for soaking up odor and dampness.

- Ruthless Bunny, I also am from the hose generation - I graduated high school in 1982 and all us girls wore what we called "nylons." I don't miss L'Eggs "Suntan," though! My shade is also "Casper" and I will look for Barely Theres. I don't need my legs to look tan - I just need protection for my feet.

- Finally, I think I am on the far end of the bell curve as far as having tender, blister-prone skin is concerned. I remember the summer ritual of going to the shoe store to buy sandals. The next morning I'd eagerly put them on and go out to play...and took them off at night to reveal raw, red marks and blisters. Mom would insist I wear them with socks until my feet healed (and little kids are the only people who CAN get away with sandals with socks). This cycle of blister, socks, bare feet, blister...repeat went on for a month or so and then my feet would finally toughen or my sandals would break in, whichever. I also had to put a Band-Aid between my toes to wear flip-flops without rubbing that area raw, and I still do. I think my feet are just delicate. It's good to have confirmation that it might be just the way my feet are, because I know other barefoot girls don't have to go to all the trouble I do to keep from hurting my feet. I have a friend who can blithely go barefoot in boots! My feet hurt just thinking about that. I think she has feet of steel.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:35 AM on December 24, 2012

Best answer: if the Band-Aid brand will really stay on

...it is totally unrelated to Vaseline or anything else one might have on hand to lubricate one's foot for this sort of reason. It can even take '#@$*, I nearly have a blister' back to healthy foot-land. I keep one in my car, I love it so.
posted by kmennie at 9:37 AM on December 24, 2012

Check out Miz Mooz brand shoes. I have the narrow heel/wide toe feet too and this brand is consistently comfortable. They carry them at Nordstrom and Zappos. I do the baby powder in the shoe thing, which helps. If I do start to get a heel blister and I just put a Band-aid where it's rubbing. Put the Band-aid on vertically (it won't rub off as quickly) and try to get the fabric type instead of the plastic type.

If I *have* to wear a shoe that's a bit narrow in the toes I put vaseline between my toes. I've only done this with new sneakers/socks or dress shoes/hose, might be too gross with bare feet.

One other thing that might help (haven't tried it myself) are terry cloth insoles to soak up the sweat. Maybe they would make your foot move around less like those foot petals do: http://www.aldoshoes.com/us/accessories/shoe-care/comfort-fit/56076573-471_072/0
posted by fozzie_bear at 9:44 AM on December 24, 2012

Believe it or not, I've heard this stuff is great too (haven't tried it myself). Bonus: it supposedly has the same ingredients as an expensive facial primer.
posted by availablelight at 9:47 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Believe it or not, I've heard this stuff is great too (haven't tried it myself). Bonus: it supposedly has the same ingredients as an expensive facial primer.

That would be monistat powder-gel which is indeed fantastic. Its main ingredient is dimethicone, which basically puts a barrier between your skin and whatever, which is why it is good for shoe chafing and thigh chafing and makeup staying on.
posted by sweetkid at 10:04 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cotton socklets and Body Glide. Also, slingbacks.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:59 AM on December 24, 2012

Another thing is to only buy shoes that have a leather "sock" (inner lining) for hose-less wear.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:01 AM on December 24, 2012

Best answer: I don't have wide feet, but I have a very narrow heel. I've noticed that going without hose is the only way I can wear a sling-back styled shoe. Maybe it's the blisters, blood, and sweat that makes that little strap hang on, but it works.

Me, I wear hose and forego sling-backs but perhaps you will benefit from my little revelation.

(It's eye-opening to me that women are using bandaids, socks, insoles, creams and potions and powders, just to look like they are carefree. Hose just aren't that uncomfortable!)
posted by Houstonian at 11:11 AM on December 24, 2012

Best answer: KathrynT just told me about that whole Monistat vs face primer thing! Crazy.

As a Lady of Thigh, I am very familiar with anti-chafing junk. The Monistat stuff is really good, but because it disappears IMMEDIATELY -- like, you don't even have time to look at it -- it can be a little annoying to try to figure out where you've put it already. Of course, with your feet you shouldn't have that issue, since the area is considerably smaller.

Before I found that, my go-to was Body Glide. It's available at bike and triathlon stores. You know, because I'm an athlete. But it's super easy to put on your feet, and will stay working all day regardless of the weather.

Having worked in a shoe store, there are two fit issues that could be causing you blisters. Are your shoes too tight or too loose? You could get a tight spot fixed with a spot stretcher, but more than likely it really is just the need for your feet to be able to move without friction.

One thing that nobody has mentioned is using tape directly on your feet. I had a pair of blistery new sandals that couldn't be stretched because of the way they were sewn. I used this clear 3M medical tape (3M Flexible Clear, aka Transpore) and it was AMAZING. The tape stayed on even through two days and a couple of showers (I figured it didn't matter how long I kept it on) and I swear you couldn't tell I had tape on, even though it was in a visible spot. It covered the existing blister without pulling at the tender skin, too. It was great on my heels for a different pair.
posted by Madamina at 11:13 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Just going to chime in as a wide-ball-narrow-heel girl to say that the Foot Petal heel strips are SO MUCH BETTER than the gel ones. I have wasted too much money on gel inserts/heel guards; I won't buy anything but the Foot Petals brand anymore.

And nthing the Monistat anti-chafing gel for your feet (and face and, yes, inner thighs on those hot, humid summer days).
posted by devinemissk at 11:39 AM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

I've never been able to wear pumps without tights (as they're called in the UK) because my feet would be cut to ribbons, but last summer I bought this pair of Crocs and was able to wear them bare-legged all summer. I take a UK size 4.5 and so went down to a 4 as recommended, and had no problem at all with rubbing or chafing.
posted by essexjan at 12:19 PM on December 24, 2012

Same problems here. I recommend nexcare waterproof strips over regular band aids. I wrap it around my baby toes and on the back of my heels.
Regular pump type shoes or flats always flop off my heels, so I also try to look for shoes with a mary-jane strap to keep them secure.
Lots of other good ideas in this thread I'll have to try!
posted by astrid at 12:27 PM on December 24, 2012

Stop moisturizing so much and stop letting the pedicurists remove your calluses. How many people actually get close enough to your feet to notice that you have a callus or dry skin? I'm an occasionally sockless and I definitely have a callused spot on the back of my heel and side of my toe where I would otherwise have blisters.
posted by anaelith at 1:38 PM on December 24, 2012

I wear the ubiquitous lacy footies found in convenience stores and "walmart" type stores in Seoul. (I always think of them as "foot panties") They are essential for keeping my feet and shoes in proper shape (and odor).
posted by nile_red at 3:23 PM on December 24, 2012

**Also, they usually have some sort of strip at the heel to keep them from sliding.

Found a picture, but possibly only available in Korea? They come in nude, black, white, a few other colors. I could mail you a trial pair!
posted by nile_red at 3:32 PM on December 24, 2012

Best answer: More lacy, More fancy, slingback style, dots styles
posted by nile_red at 3:51 PM on December 24, 2012

Response by poster: I guess my problem was that I gave up too easily and assumed that the crappy blister-prevention methods of my youth hadn't been improved upon. I largely gave up even trying to go barelegged years ago and wore pants with the few sandals that did not shred my feet, or wore nylons in the 90 degree heat.

As I age I worry about looking frumpy and old (because I do have to put myself out there job and relationship-wise and, alas, age discrimination exists). I heard so much about pantyhose being frumpy and aging, plus reading an anecdote (maybe on here?) about a hiring manager who would not hire a woman who wore nylons - who'd have thunk bare legs would be the appropriate interview attire? Not I. (Not even sure if that is true but it's given me pause.)

It seems that body glide has improved, bandages have improved, foot inserts have improved and the world of no-show socks has undergone a revolution. I did an amazon search and there are so many different kinds to choose from! (And if I can find Korean Missha BB cream here in the US I can probably find Korean footies somewhere. And a couple of kind MeFites have offered to send me footies, yay!) It's amazing the selection compared to the awful "peds" that were the only choice I had way back when - they showed, they bunched, they didn't last and they were butt-ugly.

I'm looking forward to being able to flaunt my bare legs come summer without the agony of da feets. Ask MeFi is awesome!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:58 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think it's possible to overpedicure.
Long time ago, I did some extra wonderful pedicure. It felt so good, and my feet were like baby's. I couldn't believe how nice my feet can be. Then I went home and by the time I got home my feet were bleeding everywhere. I guess my skin become to delicate for normal walking, and I walk a lot.
Maybe you can keep your skin little bit less pedicured?
And of course, please keep looking for the better shoes. Not just natural leather, but better quality leather, and very well made. It's possible to find shoes without sharp edges and seams.
posted by Oli D. at 9:15 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing Monistat gel and/or Body Glide for heels. I've had excellent luck with them for heel blisters.
posted by immlass at 3:44 PM on December 25, 2012

Response by poster: I got myself some Hue brand footies and was pleasantly surprised. How the world of footies has changed since they were called "peds" and were flimsy, ill-fitting, uncomfortable and showed. It's too cold and damp outside to go bare-legged but I put the footies on and walked around the house in my favorite Naya heels and all was good. I also got some Body Glide and, again, the world of body glide products is much changed. Foot Petals are on order. All in all, it seems much easier to go bare-legged without blisters or pain than it was, though I still have exceptionally sensitive feet/skin and will never be able to go bare-legged in pumps if I have to be actually on my feet walking around (rather than just sitting at my desk).

And all thanks to AskMeFi!

Marking this resolved.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:59 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

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