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How Not to Get Blisters From Shoes

How Not to Get Blisters From Shoes

Picture this: It’s finally warm enough to retire those salt-stained winter boots for new spring shoes, but the back of your heel gets a blister before you make it to the front door. You persevere because you long to feel the sun on your self-tanned ankles. So you start walking on your tiptoes, and your entire foot squishes into the front half of the shoe. And then, what’s that? A blister ON YOUR TOES?! Now you are stranded and cranky and vow to never leave the house again.

Well, I just learned a day-saving trick: If you dab some chapstick on the back of your heels (or wherever you usually get blisters from shoes), it forms a shield, reducing friction altogether. There’s a Foot Anti-Blister Balm available, but I’ve found that a tube of Burt’s Bees works wonders and lasts for hours. Have you ever tried it? (I’m definitely taking some on my next trip, too.)

P.S. What to do if you forget deodorant or get a pimple.

(Photo by Everlane via Instagram. Shirt by Everlane, similar jeans here.)

  1. Kimberly says...

    if you already have a blister, but MUST wear said shoes that gave you a blister, the trick is to cut a piece of moleskin in the shape of donut (so it surrounds the blister) then use athletic tape to tape down the moleskin, then a band-aid on top. This is what we did in ballet. After years of dancing en pointe (and having a teacher who DID NOT allow the use of lambswool or gel) this donut trick is the only thing that works, and I’ve since applied it to many cute (but painful) shoes since!

  2. This is very helpful.

  3. That’s the same logic as rubbing candle stick wax on the back of the heel… a trip my mom had taught me!

  4. Joanna, do the Sezane Jack sneakers need to be broken in? My size came back in stock and I ordered immediately – I love them and can’t wait to start waiting them!

  5. Elizabeth says...

    Other solution to blisters: not wearing shoes that cause blisters. #birkenstocksloversunite #hatersgonnahate

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Hahaha

    • Emily says...

      Would love to agree, but actually my husband got the most horrible blisters EVER breaking in his Birkenstock sandals.

    • Yenny says...

      I also got blisters from the Birkenstocks :(

  6. Mandy says...

    i always use vaseline and it works perfectly!

  7. Hannah says...

    With new shoes I always use my hands to flex the sole a bunch of times, and to bend in the back in the heel area. It helps soften up the leather and shortens the break-in time for sure!

  8. Aquaphor! My Swedish Hasbeens were killing my feet. After coveting them for so long, I was so excited to get two pairs on sale. How uncomfortable they were was UNREAL. After slathering their insides with aquaphor a few wears, they are great. I’ve even had women on the street ask me how I can wear them!

  9. I don’t leave home without blister bandages. As soon as I feel something rubbing, I pop on a bandage. Works for sandals too, since they’re invisible.

  10. Shannon says...

    Great tip! It would be awesome if you could provide more tips for getting shoes that fit, breaking them in, etc. I have such a hard time figuring out how to take care of my feet with shoes, and haven’t been able to find much help online/elsewhere. For instance- how do shoe inserts work? Do you just slip them in the shoe, do you take out the insole and replace it with an insert? Are you supposed to put something on top of the inserts to prevent that squelching noise?

    And oh my gosh, how do you wear heels without dying?

    Haha I suppose basically what I am asking for is an “ask a stylish foot expert” feature. I have a feeling that I’m not the only one wearing shoes that are less comfortable and supportive than they could be just because I don’t know what I should be doing!

  11. this past weekend my husband & i visited NYC and i wore the cutest Everlane street shoes. i thought i had sufficiently broken them in but alas, two massive blisters on my heels formed. he left me sitting in central park to walk a mile to TJ Max to get me on the cheap sketchers + socks + bandaids. i may have cried when he came back bearing these gifts, with a snack cus we were originally on our way to lunch and i was starving.

    i have sweaty + stinky feet, i can’t be putting balms or whatever on them, it would just make things worse for me. but i discovered GEKKS that help with the smell but provides some cushion. apparently, not enough cushion for an NYC jaunt though….

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      he’s a keeper :)

  12. Cynthia says...

    When I try on shoes, I make sure they don’t come up too far on the back of my heel or I will get blisters. I have found that if shoes are not comfortable out of the box, I won’t buy them or I will send them back, no matter how much I want them.

  13. Alex says...

    Deodorant works really well too!

    • Yush says...

      yes! that’s what works very well for me too!

  14. Sasha says...

    I have “bad feet” (nerve damage, fascitis, tendonitis, surgeries and scar tissue). The thought of wearing shoes that cause blisters makes me cringe. I don’t have any “cute” shoes, but when I’m in pain, I’m not exactly cute. When I’m breaking in new shoes for hiking I just always carry bandaids, and the first sign of rubbing, I put one on. Works for me. I also only wear high quality wool socks, sweating is a big cause of blisters I think, and my feet don’t sweat in wool. Only shoes with no socks are flip flops. I’d rather be happy than cute ;)

  15. Stephanie says...

    I actually don’t like the blister stick or balm-y products unless the friction is on a very specific part of my foot. A lot of times my foot will slip around in my shoe when I use those, so I’ve found a few other products I love.
    1. Toe Spacers: http://www.target.com/p/gel-toe-spacers-2-pk-up-up-153/-/A-50391004 These aren’t specifically for blisters, but when I wear pointed-toe shoes my toes jam together and sometimes make the nail on my big toe dig into the nail bed. These fix that perfectly! I wear them with pointy-toe d’orsay flats the most.
    2. Corn Protectors: http://www.target.com/p/corn-callus-treatment-2-pk-up-up-153/-/A-50227830 Yet another VERY SEXY AND YOUTHFUL item. :) But they’re awesome for putting on your ring or pinky toes for preventing blisters that might usually form there. They are reusable and they stay in place all day, and I love them.
    3. Blister-specific band-aids: If I do get a blister that makes most shoes impossible, I put one of these on, followed by a tough-strip/fabric bandage. The blister bandage is a squishy silicone material, so nothing irritates the blister. And the regular band-aid holds it in place, no matter how much moving/walking you do.
    4. Rubbing alcohol: any time I put a band-aid on my feet (or hands!) and need it to stay in place ALL DAY NO MATTER WHAT, I prep the area with rubbing alcohol. This is the secret to sweat or lotion not disrupting the adhesive bond. Even if you wash your hands, or have shoes that don’t breathe.
    5. Multiple pairs of socks: I put on as many socks as I can fit inside a shoe, and break them in by walking around my apartment. This stretches the shoes very slightly, but in a way that conforms to the shape of your foot. The spots that rub don’t rub anymore!

    • Florrie says...

      I love this reply. Thank you.
      You have obviously given it some thought :-)

  16. Nanu says...

    1 word: VASELINE! It works like a charm!

  17. Linds says...

    I love Body Glide but in my shoes I use a powder like Blistershield. Works like a charm and stops squeaking shoes too :) I worked at a running store for a long time, and these are the best two products I’ve found!

    I can’t fathom putting Vaseline or deodorant onto my feet, it just seems like it would ruin shoes over time.

  18. Kate says...

    I have a pair of Everlane oxfords, similar to the photo, that were rubbing when I first put them on. I filled freezer bags with water (half way full) and them put them into the shoes. I then put the shoes on a cookie sheet and into the freezer and froze them for 12 hours. It stretches the shoe about 1/2 a size without damaging them. I have done this before with smaller amounts of water tilting the shoes to target either the heel or toe is too tight. You do have to let the shoes sit and thaw before removing the bags, so you don’t damage the shoes, and make sure to use freezer bags so they won’t break. I did this with hiking boots before a long trip and wore them for days without a problem. My father-in-law has started doing this now too.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, i’ve never heard of that! how cool!!

    • sarah J says...

      This is top notch

    • Alesha says...

      This needs a picture step by step tutorial, it’s GENIUS!!

  19. Alessandra says...

    My trick is to never wear shoes that rub on the back of my heels. Now my eye is trained and I can distinguish them by the shape, and if I try them on and they hurt I don’t buy them, easy.

  20. I needed this so badly!

  21. Emma says...

    Am I the only one wishing shoe technology would just get better?! Flats are my down fall!

    • Audra says...

      You’re not the only one! I have wasted so much money on flats that rub my heels. Why don’t manufacturers put some extra padding back there or something? So frustrating.

  22. Allison says...

    I used to always have issues with back of heel rubbing but I started being way way more picky about shoe buying after a round of decluttering that involved admitting I wasn’t wearing a bunch of shoes. And now none of my shoes, even new ones, give me blisters. I think the key is to be way more choosy and find a shoe that fits your foot properly. This is not just about getting the right size but about about finding brands whose “last” is right for your foot.

  23. Toun says...

    I’ll try your tips.
    My tip against blisters (mainly on toes) it’s to put baby powder in your shoes. Because what causes blisters is humidity ;)

  24. ar says...

    I love those jeans!

  25. OK, this is seriously genius! Wish I’d known it two days ago when my new shoes-from-hell gave me the most massive blisters there ever were!!!
    Definitely rubbing half a tube of balm all-over my feet next time.

  26. Laura says...

    Does it work with socks?

  27. What a brilliant and simple idea! Totally makes sense!

  28. tez says...

    Or candle wax! (not burnt/burning obvs)

  29. Wendy says...

    The cheapest and best blister guard I know is moleskin. It’s old-fashioned, but works great! I buy it in a cut-it-yourself sheet, so the size can be customized to the situation. It’s really just a beige heavy flannel fabric with an adhesive backing. You just stick it on your foot wherever you feel the shoe rubbing. I never travel without it!

    • Cheryl says...

      I second this. It was a life saver when I was dancing in pointe shoes so I just incorporated moleskin into my shoe breaking in period.
      It stays put like cement, whereas Band aids tend to slip and slide.

  30. Morgan says...

    I use duct tape anywhere my shoe rubs. It’s an old hiker’s trick, but can work for anyone. The tape stays all day and does a great job protecting my skin. I’ll never use bandaids again.

  31. This is such a a clever tip! It made me think of papaw ointment which is basically a magical healing balm that all Aussies grow up using for everything from diaper rash to cuts to burns. Bizarrely, it is made of 100# fermented papaw (a fruit) and it has all of these incredible healing properties. It would heal any blister… or prevent them too if you used it like Stella recommends here! Google it if you haven’t heard of it !!

    http://www.thislifeisbelle.com

    • Magan says...

      Yeah Papaw! My husband and his buddies went surfing in Australia and had to ask the locals how to deal with chaffing, hahaha. Papaw was the answer! Fast-forward 10 years and we use it for our babies!

    • Landon says...

      A friend that moved to California from Australia gave me a tube of this the other day. She special orders it to the states and says she uses it for everything. I am currently using it on a burn from a small lemon cake disaster :-(

      I think I may be hooked!!

  32. Annabelle says...

    I have been using leftover nipple cream from my breastfeeding days. Works perfectly ?

    • Love it! I could totally see that working :)

  33. I get the WORST blisters on my feet! When I was an attorney, I used to go to Court and have to bite my limp during oral arguments because my heels killed me! I use this Johnson & Johnson little rub on stick, which I think helps but doesn’t solve the problem. I’m looking forward to trying some of these suggestions!

    http://hyggewellness.com/blog

  34. I use my runners body glide. Looks like teeny deodorant and I put it on my heel and near toes. I also have a wooden shoe stretcher with, ugh, bunion “button” for my odd toes.

  35. Allison says...

    CoJ, please update your Pimple post with a warning about garlic! I can’t believe you still send readers to that article, when so many commenters point out that garlic can exacerbate the infection.

  36. Eliza says...

    I loved reading this because my husband works for Burt’s Bees!! We have a TON of lip balms in the house but I never thought to use it for this purpose. Thanks for the suggestion! Hubby thanks you too! ;-)

  37. Sarah says...

    Tried this this weekend for the first time with a pair of pumps that always give me blisters. I used Rosebud Salve and it worked wonders

  38. Hair conditioner . Dab it on the spot where the shoes feel tight and it will soften the leather just in the right spot. Walk around the house for a bit to make sure it no longer rubs.

  39. Leslie says...

    Maybe tmi, but I use lube on my heels when I’m wearing shoes I know will chafe! Works like a charm every time! :)

  40. Emily says...

    It is those jeans I want!!! do you know what kind they are?

  41. Lee says...

    I swear by this stuff, changed my whole shoe game. If you haven’t used it, prepare to be AMAZED.

  42. Really?? I’ve never heard of using chapstick but definitely trying it out – I’ve got some shoes that are too cute not to wear but to painful TO wear. -__-

    http://www.wonderlandsam.com

  43. This is great. I never would have guessed.

    So much better than having unsightly loose bandaids flapping on my heels and ankles. They never want to stay put.

    Thanks for sharing!

  44. I’ve used the foot balm before and it works pretty well to prevent rubbing. BUT I have found the holy grail of foot protection!!! The only problem is…they’re not really available in the US (well, you can find them on Amazon, but they’re expensive!). After wandering around Paris for about 5 miles last year IN WORN-IN SNEAKERS I totally ripped up the back of my heels and was limping around. I thought to stop at a pharmacy to grab a bandaid or too (and maybe sit on a foot stool to take a break from the walk), when I found COMPEEDS. They are literally the most amazing, foot-saving, product I’ve ever used. Compeeds are not like anything I’ve ever used before, hardly a bandaid and they make me think of latex or prosthetics for stage as they’re like a second skin. They come in all different sizes/shapes to fit different parts of your feet when you have a blister, including the sole of the foot which tends to get ripped up in sandals. They can stay on for several days, they’re flesh colored, and if you have a blister or not they will protect and moisturize the area. I practically covered my feet in them on my wedding day, even through I had already worn in my shoes pretty well. Would love to know if anyone else has tried them! They’re pretty life changing and I always keep them with me, especially when traveling!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg these sound amazing!!! are these the same as the ones you tried? http://amzn.to/2mNWGMD

    • I think anything Hydrocolloidal might be similar. They also work great on healing blemishes overnight!

    • Eliza says...

      Band-Aid brand actually makes some like that (in Canada at least, but I’m sure they have them in the US if they have them in Canada ….nothing comes HERE until it’s been to the US for much less money!)

    • Marianne says...

      Sounds similar to moleskin, hikers and backpackers necessity for preventing and dealing with blisters.

    • Lucy says...

      I live in New Zealand where Compeed products are readily available in pharmacies and supermarkets! Definitely a great solution, they’re not cheap so I only use them when I need serious protection like going on a bush walk or really new shoes that I *must* wear. I am definitely going to give rubbing balm a go, as a cheaper alternative!

    • Loesie says...

      True that! I always have a pack of Compeeds in my purse whenever I wear heels (including at my wedding!)

    • Saf says...

      We have these everywhere in the UK, and at home I keep at least two packs in my drawer at all times. They are the ultimate plaster for blisters, nothing else is as good. When you’re wearing them it feels like there’s a soft cushion over your blister!

    • Astrid says...

      You can buy Compeed products all over Europe. They’re pretty expensive, but they’re the best! I tape my feet for long walks with Hansaplast classic and use Compeed just for blisters.

    • Ner says...

      Yes!!! These have saved a few vacations of mine that involved a lot of walking. (and also in already worn in shoes that still destroyed my feet since we walked all day long) I truly will never leave the house again without at least one in my purse. They are like a second layer of skin that slightly padded in the middle. I have found other brands at Target and Walgreens here. They are usually in the foot care area… not bandaid area.

  45. Rebecca says...

    Great tip! Always enjoy your writing Stella.

  46. Alex says...

    I applied Badger Balm this very afternoon while doing lots of walking in new shoes.

  47. Katie says...

    I keep the Band-aid blister block and some blister band-aids in my bag all spring and summer. They are lifesavers and I rarely get blisters anymore.

  48. Emily says...

    I read somewhere (real simple maybe?) to put a pair of socks on, put on your summer slides, and hit with a hair dryer for a min or so (not too close, so its not too hot). Its worked great for me to gently wear in any new shoes a bit

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Love this idea, Emily! Thanks for sharing. xoxo

  49. Sarah says...

    My trick is to use vaseline. I ran a marathon last year and I would cover my feet in vaseline before putting my socks on. Yes, it does make your socks a little gross, but it comes off in the wash. It works – I never had a blister in the four months I was marathon training.

  50. Elizabeth says...

    Ooh I have to try this. I swear by those adhesive strip you can add to the backs of your shoes. I think it’s just the Dr. Scholl’s brand that I buy from the drugstore. I stick them on right where they rub against my ankle and they make a huge difference. This is a constant battle for me since I have a hard time finding shoes to comfortably fit my feet. I’ll try the lip balm next time!

  51. Body Glide is such a great company! I love the “for her” stick. I’ve been running a lot more, but I always hated running in shorts because my thighs would chafe just a little bit, but enough to where I was dying only a mile in. Now I can run at least 6 or 8 miles without having to put more on. Yay! Body Glide! It’s also super easy to apply, it’s literally the same thing as a stick of deodorant.

    Ps: there is a regular “Body Glide” that I guess you could say is the unisex one, but I wanted to start off with the one “for her” because this one has coconut oil and almond oil in it.

    • Yes to Body Glide! It’s prefect for preventing blisters and all other kinds of chafing. I was always unsure of what I thought about the “for her’ line but I was at the Outdoor Retailer trade show recently and chatted with their rep. All of their lines are definitely different. They re-branded recently too so the packaging is a lot cooler.
      I’ve used other things like lip balm or deodorant in a pinch but nothing has worked as well as Body Glide does.

    • Noelle says...

      Another vote for BodyGlide (though I stubbornly purchase the unisex version since I assumed the “for her” was just pinkwashing). I would try that over vaseline or chapstick, since it’s not greasy – more of a waxy texture. I can’t live without that stuff for summer runs!

  52. HOLY MOLY I WISH I HAD KNOWN ABOUT THIS A WEEK AGO! just back from a trip to Spain and walking in anything whilst 6 months pregnant was blister heaven. now i’ll be prepared for summer! ;)

  53. Katie says...

    This is funny, but I’ve also heard K-Y jelly is recommended to prevent blisters. Still have to try it, but it makes sense!

  54. Mischu says...

    Deodorant sticks work as well! I used this when I was away on business and didn’t have the chance to duck out of meetings to search for a drugstore. I had a stick of deodorant in my carry-on and it was a quick go-to.

    • Shannon says...

      True! When I first started running I would get terrible blisters on the arches of my feet. I tried all the fancy products, but in the end deodorant was the only thing that worked.

    • Morgan says...

      Yes! Hilarious this post brought back a long-forgotten memory from college putting deodorant on my feet so I could walk campus in cute but painful shoes.

  55. Lo says...

    This is SUCH a handy tip! I never have plasters, but I always have lip balm! I cannot wait to try this out in the coming months with new brogues, sandals and booties on the horizon.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Lo
    http://www.themixtures.com

  56. I Always use a huge piece of Transpore Surgical Tape covering all the bakc of my heels almost fromside to side side.

    I don´t know if they are the same there from the ones we can find here in Brazil

    They so stern and glue so well on your skin you can even stay with it two days in a row.

    And because they are transparent, the don´t show that much.

    http://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/company-us/all-3m-products/~/3M-Transpore-Surgical-Tape?N=5002385+3293321941&rt=rud

    I use the second taller one that appears in the picture.

  57. S says...

    I use BodyGlide (meant for anti chaffing on thighs, etc. for runners) on my toes and heels when I go hiking!

  58. Lori! says...

    Dr. Scholl’s also makes something similar to this…

  59. Wow, I’ve never heard of or tried this. Definitely going to since I’m tired of putting actual bandaids on (preventatively) the first week of new shoes. My shoe this spring is from an etsy shop called Drifter’s Leather…for any other readers out there who are into minimal footwear and wistfully admire the dainty (very unnatural and bunion inducing) shape of popular shoes like Everlane’s. The small company custom-made them for my wide feet so my toes aren’t cramped at all, and they’re cute, with so many options. Also have barefoot soles! But I’m excited to give up the heel bandaids ;)

    • Amy says...

      Good to know! My go-tos are Lems, which are fantastic but very much sneaker-style :) I’m in my late 20s and already have tailor’s bunions – and I’ve never even really worn heels or pointy shoes! My style has been firmly in the “jeans and tee” camp since starting to wear minimal shoes, but occasionally I wish I could have something slightly more dressy. Those criss-cross ballet flats are calling my name…thank you!

    • Yay! I’m glad someone can use it! Soft Star is a company here in the US (Drifters Leather is in Greece), but doesn’t have as many options or quite as attractive in my opinion. I want to try Lem’s for sure next time I need casual shoes!

  60. Julie says...

    No tips to add but I love the shoes in the pic :P Any idea of source?

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Hi Julie! They are Everlane’s Modern Oxford: http://bit.ly/2odNE8U

      xoxoxo

      Stella

  61. What a great tip. I am definitely going to try this.

  62. MK says...

    I have always used Band-Aid Friction Blister Block and it works wonders. I always bought mine at the local CVS, Target, Duane Reade, etc. Although a quick search online makes it seem like they may have discontinued it? I bought some around the Holidays at my local store for under $10. If I can’t find it I will have to try one of your recs. I always have one at home and one in my purse just in case. I always get cut up feet from shoes, but this has always worked for me.

  63. Brianna says...

    Okay. I’m going to try this for sure. I have a half dozen pairs of shoes I’ve been avoiding because of the blister factor.

  64. A cheaper alternative to body glide is monistat’s antichafing lotion. Also good as a makeup base…same thing as smash box primer.

  65. Erin says...

    That Body Glide stuff is AMAZING. I’ve been using it for years, and it totally works.