Yes, we are going to say it: ladies, covering your feet in front of men who are not closely related to you is a mandatory part of Hijab.
It's as simple as that. Your feet may look lovely with a great shade of polish and gorgeous sparkly stiletto sandals, but in Islam, that's not something to show just anyone.
Outside, you need to be wearing socks that are not see-through. And I know it takes a lot of fun out of shoe-shopping, but footwear that's too attractive and excessively noisy will not do.
In this issue and the next, Style Watch is discussing feet. We are going to tell you how to take care of your feet at home, because that's important. Next time, we'll talk about feet issues when outside: nail polish, henna/mehndi, and wudhu complications. And, don't worry, we're also going to tell you what to look for in a good, hijab-friendly shoe.
Let us begin!
Taking Care of Your Feet
Wearing hijab doesn't mean you don't have to look after yourself, for yourself, and for times when you are with mahram family members and friends. Just because a Muslim gal covers her hair doesn't mean her hair is unhealthy or is not styled well. In the same way, just because the feet have to be covered outside doesn't mean it is okay to go around with un-groomed toenails, smelly feet, or icky-looking calluses! Allah loves us to be clean and groomed, and trimming the nails on Fridays is recommended.
But for most of us, foot maintenance can require a lot more than just a trimming. Depending on your activities and footwear, exfoliating and moisturizing are in order too.
Now many of us do not have the time, inclination, or money to go for a weekly pedicure, and unless your feet have really been ravaged on an adventure trip, you don't necessarily have to go that route.
For just a few dollars, you can have the tools to consistently keep your feet feeling smooth and looking healthy for months to come. And best of all, you just have to spend a few minutes a week as opposed to a half-hour foot soak. (As appealing as that sounds – if you have time for such a thing, please go ahead and treat yourself!)
Hit up your local pharmacy, discount or grocery store, or even dollar store and buy a pumice stone. You can even get one that has a long handle attached.
Get a reusable nail file. (Not metal ones – those are only safe to use in a single direction; otherwise, you will weaken your nails.) It should preferably have a buffer too. And get a few pairs of thick white sports socks. You'll see why later!
Finally, get a simple nice-smelling moisturizing lotion or cream. Before you buy some though, look around at home for any moisturizers you bought for your face but stopped using, and collect all those little hotel lotion bottles and greasy samples gathering dust in your bathroom. Added up all together, you could have a year's worth of moisture for your feet already in the house! This could be the perfect opportunity to use it all up, on an area of skin that's not as sensitive as the face. In a pinch, you can even massage olive or mineral oil into your feet for moisture.
What to Do
Once a week (or twice, if you need it badly – remember, you're going for gradual consistent improvement, not an overnight change), after trimming and filing your nails and after taking your shower normally, your feet should have been in contact with water for at least five minutes. Having soaped and rinsed your feet already, wet the pumice stone while you are still in the stall/tub.
For about a minute, very, very gently, lightly scrub the heel and ball of your foot with the pumice stone in a soft circular motion. The stone will remove the rough skin. The roughness will not all go away this first time – it will take a few weeks. But be gentle and patient, and you'll see results in no time that will require very little effort to maintain. If you have any open cracks, cuts, scars or any circulation problems, consult your doctor before doing this.
After rinsing off and coming out of the shower, dry your feet and massage in some moisturizer (and while you're at it, apply your regular moisturizer to your knees and elbows too, it'll just take a second).
Before going to bed, once a week, coat your feet with moisturizer (don't massage it in, just coat them thoroughly) and carefully put on thick sports socks. By morning prayer time, your feet should be extremely soft and smooth feeling, especially in combination with the regular exfoliation you've been doing.
Contrary to popular belief, doing wudhu with just-moisturized skin is not a problem:
"Question: Is cream a barrier to water reaching the skin, and if so, should it be removed prior to wudhu and ghusl?
Answer: Apparently the effect left on the skin after it is applied is nothing but just moisture, and so it does not constitute a barrier to water reaching the skin." (Reference)
Keep an eye out for Part Two of Style Watch's "Don't Put Your Best Foot Forward?"!