Blisters on my little toes and the balls of my feet.
March 21, 2013 4:23 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to find high heels that you can actually walk in without blisters? Recently I walked a quarter mile in my Cole Haan Talia Nike Air heels, which are supposed to be better for walking in, but ended up with blisters anyway. Are there any brands of heels that will not give me blisters on my toes or achilles tendon? Or is there some trick to wearing them (e.g. toe socks or corn starch)? I usually go barelegged, not sure if that helps or hurts.
posted by arnicae to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I think this is just a lot of trial and error unfortunately. The ones that finally worked for me were Tory burch wedges. The people at Nordstrom had me try on probably 20 pairs and those were it.
posted by dpx.mfx at 4:30 AM on March 21, 2013

I get wicked bad blisters from pretty much every type of shoe, not just heels. I feel your pain.

Trial and error, yes, but for me the older and more broken in the pair of shoes, the less blisters they give me. I have a pair of heels that hurt like hell when I got them. I had not choice but to wear them for a period of time, and now they are more molded to my feet and I can walk longer in them. I've had better luck with leather shoes as well.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:36 AM on March 21, 2013

I prep with bandaids or stretchy tape over known problem areas, and I have fewer problems with well-worn leather than with satin or another none-giving material.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:42 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Now that Rosie M. Banks has presumably done away with hose, I'm the last woman on earth wearing them. They do prevent blisters, at least for me. However, it might be worth looking through that thread to see all the different solutions people have come up with to not wear hose and yet not have blisters -- there's tape and special socks and lotions and much more mentioned.
posted by Houstonian at 5:09 AM on March 21, 2013

Are you sure you're wearing the right size? I used to get blisters *every* time I wore a new pair of shoes. I then realized that my feet are actually a lot wider than conventional ("medium") shoe sizes, and now I usually don't get blisters if I wear the right size from the start (not too easy to find, though).

That said, walking barefoot in any type of new shoes sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. I usually wear the shoes with sheer socks/tights/hose (reduces friction immensely), have a short walk around the block to identify problem areas (different for different shoes) without developing true blisters, layer up with extra-strength band-aid (regular band-aid comes off too easily), then walk another round or two. For me, the key thing is to limit excursions with new shoes to shorter leisure trips, i.e., not a whole day for work. Once the shoes are broken in, it's usually okay to wear them barefoot/all-day.
posted by yonglin at 5:11 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ahem! Band-Aid Active Friction Block Stick. Miraculous product. Do not substitute.

(Yes, stick to good leather shoes, and 'break in' first. But even that is an easy and painless process with the Friction Block stuff.)
posted by kmennie at 5:31 AM on March 21, 2013 [11 favorites]

I've had a good experience with these Superfeet 3/4 high heels insoles. Helps redistribute the pressure on your foot, which should help overall.

I agree with the friction block stick also! Works great and easy to carry in your purse. Also the breaking in of the shoe is absolutely what needs to happen.
posted by belau at 6:08 AM on March 21, 2013

I usually go sockless in the summer, and I get blisters with new shoes. I just carry bandaids, and after a few wearings the blisters stop.
posted by bunderful at 6:51 AM on March 21, 2013

This is an odd anecdatum: I used to get blisters in almost any shoe pretty much anytime I walked more than half a mile. Then I stopped taking hormonal birth control pills and I don't think I have had a blister since -- even when walking more than 10 miles at a stretch. I asked some other girlfriends who had been on HBC and then stopped, and vice versa, and it seemed to be a pretty common (though not universal) trend.
posted by spindrifter at 7:09 AM on March 21, 2013

Here's a hack for breaking in new shoes (I won't/can't wear heels) that works for me, YMMV:

put on the thickest socks you own
put on new heels, walk around for a few minutes
hold a blow dryer on the hottest setting wherever you feel pinching (always my baby toe) and the shoe should stretch a bit
walk around some more
repeat as needed

The only shoes when this didn't work were really heavy-leather Danskos, so I got a shoe stretcher with the little bunion attachable piece and that stretched those bad boys to perfection.

But concurring that sometimes you need a wider shoe.
posted by kinetic at 7:15 AM on March 21, 2013

Are you sure your shoes fit correctly. Correct fit means no pinching, no tightness, no rubbing and no slipping of your heel. You may want to try going a half size smaller in length and a size wider.

Assuming your shoes fit correct, put some solid antiperspirant on your foot. You're looking for an antiperspirant product with dimethicone. That will reduce friction and reduce wetness. Friction and wetness are the culprits here.

(Also, carry a set of foldable slipper flats. Blisters suck.)
posted by 26.2 at 8:01 AM on March 21, 2013

I've had good luck with rubbing alcohol, though I usually just soak a cotton ball and rub it on the inside of the entire shoe.

I find that the more pedicures I get, the more problems I have, too. Calluses build up for a reason.
posted by jaguar at 9:11 AM on March 21, 2013

Friction stick is good. Foot powder is good. Breaking in shoes is good. Toe socks, toe covers, and heel cushions are all good.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:03 AM on March 21, 2013

Socks/stockings will definitely help the most. Something to stop the sweating (I just use antiperspirant, but other products have been mentioned above), and some baby powder to absorb the sweat will also help.
posted by radioamy at 10:26 AM on March 21, 2013

I always wear footie socks with dress shoes. They're in the same fabric as tights or hose, but only cover toes, sole, and heel. They're visible, so get ones that suit your shoes / outfits / skintone.
posted by momus_window at 10:39 AM on March 21, 2013

I asked a similar question just a few months ago and the tips I got work really well. "Footie" socklets, body glide, and sports tape over the areas you know will blister. And nthing fit. I am another wide-footed lady - years of stuffing my feet into mediums (because it was that or old-lady shoes!) meant years of blisters. Thanks to the wonders of DSW, Zappos, Nordstrom (all online - which offers a much better selection than in store) as well as soft-sided ballet slippers, I now have shoes that fit and blister less.

That said, I can "walk" in my good heels sans hose or tights only in the sense that I "walk" around my house or workplace, "walk" to and from the train, "walk" to Starbucks and "walk" to lunch and back. I can't "walk" in my heels with no hose/tights in the sense of serious walking as in commuting, sightseeing or museum-going. I have dedicated walking shoes and sandals for those times. I can't wear heels for hard-core tromping around. My skin is just that sensitive. I think some people have thinner skin than others. And perhaps some people just ignore the blisters!

(And, nope, haven't done away with hose entirely! But it feels good to be able to do away with them in warm weather, at least.)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:02 AM on March 21, 2013

Carry some footie socks to wear if you're going to walk more than 1/2 block, or wear stockings. 95% of women's shoes are impossible for me to wear, even with socks, so I gave up and wear comfortable shoes. I still have to break them in and wear socks. Except for Tevas and a pair of Bass sandals.
posted by theora55 at 3:02 PM on March 21, 2013

Personally, I HATE walking in heels, but I LOVE cute heels! Therefore I rarely buy them. I have small feet (size 6) so all of my weight ends up on a really small part of my foot in heels - of course not to mention blisters.

Heels that have worked for me:

Kitten Heel Merona brand work heel from Target - The low heel and cushioned sole make me feel like I could actually wear them for an entire work day. I have never gotten blisters from them.

Lace up heel oxfords - The base of the heel is larger and the lace up makes it secure. I did add an arch support to those to help with how steep the heel was. I might not be able to wear them all day but I can at least wear them.

Ankle boot wedges - Again with the wedge there is more of a walking surface, and it being an ankle boot there isn't as much foot movement. (The same goes for regular boots.)

I would also suggest trying shoes with ankle straps. That may reduce foot movement in your shoes. You could also try things that are more strappy. Overall from what I have read, if a shoe needs a foot pad or squeezes when you try them on, don't buy them.
posted by Crystalinne at 3:19 PM on March 21, 2013

In Australia they make these gel cushions which stick to the insides of your shoes, which I think are pretty good. You have to replace them every so often, but it means you don't have to wind up with sticky stuff on your feet, which gets annoying. Anyway, tried to see if there is something similar in the US (I am assuming you are there based on the quarter mile thing) but didn't seem obvious. You could try to achieve the same thing with band-aids etc on the insides of your shoes.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:25 PM on March 21, 2013

Barking Dog Shoes may be a place to look for ideas.
posted by jeri at 10:08 PM on March 21, 2013

I have a pair of the Cole Haan Nike shoes too and have been very disappointed with them. They are very uncomfortable--something about the angle of the footbed or the stiffness of the leather, I don't know.

My favorite pair of heels is a black mary jane style heel from the brand Camper.

In general, soft leather shoes vs rigid shoes like patent leather have been the ticket for me.
posted by dottiechang at 2:00 AM on March 22, 2013

As soon as I know where the blister spot will be, I cost it with liquid bandaid. BUT if you can already feel it hurting while you're still in the store trying them on, just give up there.

I think this is trial and error and some people just have thinner skin. The beginning of every summer I have to go through this all over again with my *old* shoes.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:32 AM on March 23, 2013

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