Sandals may be the best footwear for plunging your feet into the sand or going for a summertime stroll, but they can also be a pain in your tender toes. Thong sandals rub against the skin next to your big toe, strappy sandals leave their own angry red marks, and hard insoles put distance-walking out of the question. Make this warm-weather staple a bit more bearable with a few adjustments.


Choose Material Wisely

The first step toward a more comfortable sandal begins at the shoe store. Consider the activity you’ll be doing while donning the footwear, and note any sensitivities you feel while trying on the sandal. Pick a shoe with cloth or soft leather straps over plastic or other harsh materials, and beware of embellishments that might rub against skin. Opt for a cushioned footbed if you know you’ll be doing some walking. Cheap rubber flip-flops may be great for beach wear, but the thong can irritate your skin between your toes. Inspect the material on the toe grip for any protrusions that could be causing your discomfort, and trim down the rubber with toenail clippers.

Comfy Cushioning

Invest in an insole that is slim and trim enough to be discreet with the most strappy of sandals. These can run the length of the sandal or be concentrated at the ball of the foot. If you’re slipping on a thong sandal, check out inserts that rest under the ball of the foot and have a groove to fit around the shoe’s toe grip. This keeps your foot from sliding back and forth in the shoe while you walk, thus cutting down on the friction that can cause sores and irritation.

On Guard Against Blisters

Put a stop to painful rubbing with some ingenious products that won’t detract from your fashion statement. Try specially made strips that adhere to the inside of sandal straps to put a barrier between your skin and the material. If you know that there’s a hot spot in the sandal — an area of the insole or straps that is especially punishing to your foot — try sticking a small round gel pad to this area. Foot-health manufacturers also make a clear waxy blister guard that comes in stick form to simply swipe on areas that need a bit of extra protection.

Sock It to Sandals

Once the proverbial fashion faux pas, designers are taking notice of the desire to put a comfortable layer of cloth between vulnerable feet and a summer sandal. This can simply be a nod to a transitional season and an extra layer of warmth, but it can also add a pinch of practicality — if you take care to not to look frumpy. Solid-color socks in a bold color can balance out a leather sandal, and slim socks with stiletto sandals can keep the look sexy. If you’re not ready for the full-sock trend, check out the nylons aisle for tubes that slides over your foot, leaving the toes exposed while wrapping the body of your foot in a bit of extra comfort.