Carola Long: The podiatrist managed to make some astute observations about the state of my mind from my feet

Beauty Queen

Laissez-faire beautification can often be a good look – take messy bed-hair or smudgy morning-after eyeliner. However, when it comes to feet, the lazy, set-the-toenails-free approach is never desirable. It's not rock'n'roll or charmingly rough round the edges – just a bit grim.

Thanks to this realisation, pedicures have become so universally popular – indeed essential – that salons are pimping them far beyond the basic file and polish. The Intercontinental Hotel's spa in London's Park Lane has added a bit of reflexology and created "Pediology" (£90, 020-7318 8779), for a deeply relaxing treatment in which the therapist even managed to make some astute observations about my state of mind from my feet, while Urban Retreat's Pristine Pedicure at Harrods includes a glass of champagne (£65, For a more hardcore, remove-dead-skin kind of treatment, Margaret Dabbs is one of the best podiatrists around. The medical pedicure at her Marylebone foot clinic and spa (£75, 020-7487 5510) includes plenty of unglamorous scraping as well as a massage and polish (you can add a spell in the egg-like Oxygen Capsule, too).

However, while a professional pedicure is by far the best way to get feet looking sleek, the occasional treatment – say once every two months – can be prolonged and maintained at home to save cash, and Dabbs recommends the following approach. "First step is to get rid of dead, dehydrated, thickened skin using a foot file on dry skin," she says. "Then file the nails straight across and apply foot scrub, exfoliating the entire foot; rinse with warm running water. Using a foot spa or bowl, slowly immerse the feet to soothe and moisturise them and energise and stimulate the skin. After 5-10 minutes, remove feet and gently pat dry. My Intensive Treatment Foot Oil will give long lasting and effective relief from dehydrated, cracked and broken skin. You can then apply a serum to the nails and finish off with a hydrating foot lotion." Given that they often have the most hobbit-like feet, men shouldn't dismiss a Dabbs' pedicure, especially as 30 per cent of her clients are male. This summer's bright coral polish, however, is optional.