The Surprising Reason Why You Might Want to Wash Your Feet Before Bed

Photo: Stocksy/Guille Faingold
People all have their own rules when it comes to the world of "washing." I, for one, will never, ever wash my face in the shower (derms back me up on this). There are also those (including moi), who wash their hands before washing their face. Then, there are those who insist on washing their feet before they get into bed.

While I'm diligent about the two former practices, I've never quite been a wash-my-feet-before-bed kinda gal. Apparently, it's not just for hygienic purposes—it can also be the quickest way to cool the F off (which we all probably need in this extra-humid weather).

In Ayurveda, washing your feet is one of the staples of keeping your body temperature down, because the feet are associated with the elements of fire, according to Erin Casperson, dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda. You know how you take off your sneakers after a long hot day and feel instant relief? "This is because you are releasing excess fire from the body," she explains.

So when you wash your feet, you're essentially throwing water onto the fire. "The theory behind washing your feet is that you are then cooling the fire element in the body," says Casperson. "If you're basking in sun by a body of water, place a chair close to the water’s edge and soak your feet. You'll be amazed at how cool it keeps your body." At home, she recommends sitting on the edge of your bathtub and running cool water over your feet, or soaking them for a few minutes. The shower will work too.

"It'll cool your whole body and pay attention to the soles of your feet," she says. Also, your feet are a cooling hotspot because they're home to key circulation points in your body, adds Emily Splichal, DPM, a New York-based podiatrist. "Placing your feet in cool water or a cool washcloth on the inside of the ankle can cool the entire body because of the easy access to circulation in these regions," she says. "They're referred to as pulse points, as they provide quick system effects that include cooling the body down or warming the body up."

To up the ante, throw in some cooling oils. "A great cooling agent is peppermint oil, aloe, and cucumber," says Dr. Splichal, who also recommends using something like Arm & Hammer Moisturizer + Gentle Exfoliator ($9) as it combats odor on top of exfoliating, moisturizing, and cooling your body down.

Obviously, you'll reap the hygienic benefits while you're at it, which is always nice. Bonus points for that, especially considering "the feet are the closest proximity to the ground, which means they easily pick up dirt and bacteria when walking around," says Dr. Splichal. "With so many sweat glands, the feet should be washed daily to cleanse sweat and odor." Ain't that the truth. Well, now I have another thing to wash in my nighttime routine.

Oh, and pro tip: This is how long you should shower for, according to dermatologists. And here's how taking a full-on cold shower can help benefit your metabolism.

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