Tips for Choosing Salon Shoes and Looking After Your Feet

When you started out in cosmetology school, one of the last things you probably expected was how much it was going to hurt to be on your feet all day. A wise woman once said, “to be the best hairstylist you can be, you need the best shoes you can get.” Hairdressing is a physically demanding job: you’re on your feet for 8-plus hours a day, straining your back, working your fingers, and shuffling between sinks, chairs, and shelves. And believe it or not, foot issues are one of the most common health hazards for hairdressers. But as you already know, there’s so much more to a shoe than size and price. So how can you choose the best salon shoes for your needs? Let’s dive in.

Getting Started: What to Look for in a Salon Shoe

Another wise woman once said “let’s get some shoes” (not sorry if you’re too young/old for that reference). But when it comes to what you want to wear around your salon, you have to strike a balance between comfort, safety, and style. Here’s what to look for.

Comfort

First and foremost, your salon shoes should be comfy. What does comfy mean? 

  • Supportive of your arch and heel
  • Breathable
  • Durable
  • Easy-to-clean

Comfort means different things to different people, so make sure you try on a shoe before rocking with it. The soles of your feet won’t tire out immediately, but they will over a few hours or days with the wrong salon shoes.

Safety

In a salon setting, safety is incredibly important. You want to make sure your salon shoes are supportive and safe for an environment full of potential slip and fall hazards, as well as a lot of sharp objects. Here are some qualities to look for:

  • Non-slip soles (super important)
  • Protective (like reinforced toes)
  • Low heel height (fierce heels are unfortunately not work safe)
  • Flexible (restricted ankle mobility can lead to a rolled ankle)

Some folks may require orthopedic shoes, and while they might get a bad rap (although chunky sneakers are in now), there are a lot more styles available now than ever before. Don’t be afraid to give your feet the support they need.

Style

The best shoe for your salon is the one you want to wear. So that means you have to like it! So try to be mindful of the style, and choose something palatable to your tastes. You may wish you could wear snakeskin all day, but your sweaty feet will disagree. 

Salon Shoes for Men and Women

Nowadays, there are styles available for men and women in salons, so fret not – there’s a home for your feet, no matter what you identify as. For men in particular, if salon-focused brands aren’t appealing to you, so long as the shoes fit the criteria above, your feet and your wardrobe can reach an agreement. A good example is the Nike Airmax series: an iconic fashion sneaker with a supportive sole that’s perfect for a salon environment. 

Beyond the Salon Shoes: Caring for Your Feet

There are a number of ways you can make your feet more comfortable in your salon. It’s not just your shoes, it’s what you do with them.

Insoles and Arch Support

If you’ve been in the salon business long enough, you’ve probably had a house call made by Dr. Scholl. Padded and gel insoles can make a huge difference in your everyday shoes, providing comfort and support when needed. Even if you don’t have a specialized pair of salon shoes, inserts can instantly make your sneakers more comfortable. You can even purchase insoles for heels, if that’s your thing.

Insoles can offer support for a variety of problem areas on your feet: many brands make specific insoles for arch support, metatarsal support (the middle of your toes), and even orthotic support. Orthotics, unlike insoles, don’t just provide comfort, they actually redistribute the weight on your foot to relieve pressure on specific areas.

Flexibility and Fitness

Another way to care for your feet is to work on your flexibility and fitness. You might not realize it, but if you’ve had some kind of injury in the past – like a knee, ankle, or hip – you might be compensating for it in the way you walk. Over time, that can lead to serious pain in your feet.

There are a ton of easy, at-home exercises you can do for your feet and ankles to relieve some pressure and keep your walking style healthy. A regular yoga class will work wonders on your feet, too – there’s even yoga routines specifically for your feet!

If you’re experiencing more serious problems, make the time to visit a physical therapist for additional, clinical support.

Soft Floor Coverings

You could also consider adding soft floor coverings to your booth or salon. Walking back and forth all day on hardwood or tile floors can exhaust your feet – rubber floor mats are an easy way to take some of the edge off. There are a ton of options out there for salon-specific vinyl floor coverings that won’t break the bank, but even a rubber kitchen mat can make a difference, too.

Foot Care Is Self Care

Don’t be afraid to prioritize some ‘me-time’ for your feet!

Here are a few tips:

  • Schedule sitting time between appointments to get off your feet
  • Get a foot massage
  • Dunk your feet in an ice bath
  • Moisturize daily

Coping With Plantar Fasciitis

A common injury among hairdressers is plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects to your heel. Some might feel it in their midfoot, others might feel it in their heels. If you start to feel a consistent, throbbing pain when you first start walking in the morning, you may have plantar fasciitis. It will typically start to feel better throughout the day, but can return when you’ve been sitting for a while.

Since it’s an inflammation, you can treat it with ice, rest, and anti-inflammatories. However, if your pain persists, you should consider seeing a podiatrist for advice and medical-grade inserts or orthotics. The risk factors for plantar fasciitis include weight, age, and lifestyle – like running around a salon all day – so it’s important to be mindful of how you’re taking care of your feet.

Choosing the right salon shoes and following some self-care for all your toes can help you avoid plantar fasciitis, but some people are more prone than others. As with any medical condition, consult your doctor if you have any questions – Dr. Google only knows so much!

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