After a long winter, your feet need some work

Bracelet with coin pearl set with amethyst gemstone, by Mina Danielle, bracelet with pyrite wire- wrapped chain with pavé diamond initial, by Mina Danielle, $225. Both available at Mina Danielle (Michael S. Wirtz/Staff Photographer)

Ahh - the warm spring breezes have arrived. It's time to slip into that new pair of open-toe wedges.

Not so fast, sisters.

Typical winters are tough enough on our feet, but this year's record-breaking frigid temps extended the ped-unfriendly, wool-sock-and-snow-boot season for two additional months.

That was rough.

And now our feet are, too.

"It was a bad, dry winter," sighed Lisa Eberly Kasmen, owner of Heaven & Earth Salon in Lafayette Hill. "People didn't want to leave the house, let alone walk around post-pedicure in flip-flops. It was terrible on our skin."

No worries. The pretty-feet posse is ready and waiting.

In the last five years, our beauty culture has become somewhat foot-obsessed, thanks to the popularity of designer (and designer-inspired) stilettos and wedges.

Some women have resorted to Botoxing their feet - it prevents sweating - and are getting "Loub jobs." (We can't make this stuff up.) That's the injection of Sculptra, a collagenlike substance, into the balls of your feet to cushion them from your swank, but pinching, Christian Louboutins.

Most of us, however, have just relied more on the bimonthly pedicure. According to Suzanne Foote, executive director of the Canada-based International Pedicure Association, pedicures are among the fastest-growing procedures among spa services during the last five years.

The growing variety of bolder, chip-free hues are one big reason why more women are loving pedis. Gel polishes that change color based on our moods - purple/anxious, green/happy - are popular with nail enthusiasts, too, as are eco-friendly enamels such as Zoya Natural Polish.

Muppets fans were treated to a set of OPI polishes inspired by the March-released Muppets Most Wanted. We are talking "Miss Piggy's Big Number," a cobalt blue, or a coppery "Kermit Me to Speak." (Not sure why those shades aren't pink and green . . . .)

This summer promises to be rich in opaque pastels, said Onisha Claire, owner of Koco Nail Salon & Wax Studio in East Falls.

"There are a lot of greens, corals, periwinkles, cotton-candy pinks," said Claire, "and jewels. It's about sparkle and little trinkets."

Beyond the mood-boosting capacity of a brand new shade, health is another explanation for the increase in below-the-ankle attention.

"People are developing foot problems," said Foote, noting that the average age of pedicure clients is 46. "The population is aging; people are becoming more health-conscious. Feet are a big part of that."

As a result, salons are adding longer soaks and vigorous scrubs to their pedicure menus, touting the latest philosophy that our feet should be treated as nicely as our faces. Many places are adding reflexology too, like Lush Spa's 60-minute foot treatment called "The Spell."

"People want more than our mini-pedi," said Kasmen, "so we added more exfoliation, sloughing, and a mask to our signature pedicure."

Mary Freihofner, owner of Affordable Skin Care Salon in Fishtown, added a "foot facial" to her menu in early March. The no-polish service includes deep exfoliation, a glycolic acid peel, microdermabrasion, and a serious moisturizer.

It's a foot scrub taken to the next level, Freihofner said.

Free your feet, Philadelphia.

215-854-2704 @ewellingtonphl