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While a growing number of brands are working to make their heel offerings more comfortable, the market is still ripen with styles that prioritize fashion over function. A lack of cushioning coupled with a towering stiletto heel can easily lead to sore arches, while a stiff leather upper and narrow toe box can cause painful blisters and exacerbate existing foot problems like bunions. Thankfully, though, there are some handy products available that can help you enjoy the aesthetic benefits of wearing your favorite heels without sacrificing comfort.
From handy anti-blister sprays to supportive insoles, these helpers should help make your heel-wearing experience a whole lot more bearable.
Use Moleskin or Anti-Blister Spray to Prevent Hot Spots
A thin but heavy cotton with an adhesive on the back, moleskin can be cut and molded to fit areas on the foot (like around the toes and back of the heel) that are most prone to friction from shoes. As an added benefit, moleskin tends to be more durable than standard adhesive bandages, so it shouldn’t bunch up or fall off after just a few hours on your feet.
As an alternative to bandages, Barefoot Scientist also makes a great blister-prevention spray that creates an invisible barrier on skin to minimize hot spots. The formula is not only made to be durable, flexible and sweat-resistant (meaning it should last on skin until you wash it off), but it’s also vegan, hypoallergenic and free of harmful parabens.
Use Heel Pads for Shoes That Are Too Big
It can be difficult to find that Cinderella pair of heels. Fit often varies between brands, and not all carry half sizes for shoppers who need them. But if you ended up buying a slightly-too-big pair that you couldn’t live without, heel pads can help fill in gaps at the back of the shoe to keep your foot from sliding forward. Plus, they’ll create an extra barrier against friction that can cause blisters.
Use Inserts for Metatarsal Pain
Due to the slope of heels, downward pressure is concentrated most at the ball of the foot. To help redistribute pressure and alleviate pain, try an insole. You can select standard options that are trimmable, or better yet, styles made specifically to fit inside heels. We recommend this highly-rated option from Dr. Scholl’s, which is made with shock-absorbing gel, or Alice Bow‘s slim leather insoles that even Kate Middleton (and our editors) swear by for staying comfortable in stilettos.
For a more minimal option, you can place smaller ball-of-foot pads inside shoes to reduce pressure in the area. These cushions can also help mitigate bunion pain, as they’ll work to stabilize the foot and prevent toes from getting squished at the front of the shoe. Keep in mind, though, that the best way to reverse those painful protrusions is by avoiding narrow shoe styles altogether.
While these handy foot stickers don’t include any extra padding, they do prevent the foot from sliding forward inside heels —so you can avoid cramped toes and extra pressure being placed at the forefoot. They stick to the bottom of your feet and include a waterproof adhesive, so they should stay put even if you’re prone to sweating. And, if you decide you just can’t bear your heels by the end of the night, the ultra-durable design allows you to safely go barefoot while walking around or hitting the dance floor.
Alleviate Pain With Foot Spray
While this product may seem too good to be true, it’s actually a sworn celebrity- and FN-editor secret weapon. Called Still Standing Foot Spray, it’s made with a range of herbal anti-inflammatory remedies to provide comfort for up to six hours after a few quick sprays. It’s also non-greasy, dries fast and can be used with bare feet or stockings.
Add Stability to Pairs With High Heel Protectors
High heel protectors typically come in two designs: Slightly flared versions that help prevent stilettos from sinking into grass or sand (making them perfect wear to weddings or other special outdoor occasions), and more minimal styles designed to stabilize heels with worn down tips. No matter which you choose, both types are ideal for keeping feet stable so you can avoid rolling an ankle. And you don’t have to worry about these helpers being detectible — most come in clear or neutral tones like black and tan to match common heel hues.