Strappy sandals, peep-toe wedges, flip-flops — no matter how fancy or casual, summer is the time to show off your kicks.


Unfortunately, nothing ruins the effect faster than a funky pair of feet.


Which might explain why, once the weather starts getting warm around May, pedicure appointments at local salons start getting booked at about twice the rate of the previous winter months.


Kate Eakman, a pedicurist at 5 Spa in downtown Rockford, averages about 25 pedicures a week in the summer months, compared with 10 a week during the winter. Some of her clients are regulars who maintain their pedi routine year-round. Others sign on for regular pedicures just for the summer, and some just pop in to get spiffy for special occasions, most often weddings.


But whether your summer footwear is a set of expensive sandals or a $2 pair of flip-flops, it’s a good idea to pay extra attention to your feet, if for no other reason than comfort.


"People think their feet are worse in the winter because they’re dry, but they can get pretty dried out in sandals, too," Eakman said. "Socks and shoes hold moisture in during the winter, but sandals don’t. Plus, there’s not as much support for your foot."


If you want regular pedicures, schedule an appointment once a month. It’s wise to book your appointment a couple of weeks in advance because of the higher demand for pedicures in the summer.


The average pedicure costs between $45 and $55 and usually takes a little more than an hour, something you should schedule when you have a block of free time rather than over a short lunch break, Eakman said. At 5 Spa, the process includes cuticle trimming, nail filing, treating calluses and other rough spots, a salt scrub, a hot towel treatment, a massage and polish, if the client requests it.


If that’s out of your budget or you don’t have the time to devote to regular spa appointments, experts say there are a few things you can do at home to keep your feet happy and healthy.


The best thing you can do for your feet at home, Eakman says, is to slather them in lotion just before you go to bed and then pull a pair of socks on to keep the moisture in.


"No one does it, but it really makes a difference," she said.


Eakman cautions against using the foot files that resemble cheese graters to get rid of calluses and instead recommends using a pumice stone once to smooth rough spots.


The do-it-yourself spa treatment might be a more attractive option for men, who make up a minuscule part of Eakman’s clientele. Some high-end salons in major cities are helping men get over the spa stigma with pedi parties designed specifically for them, complete with tequila and TVs tuned to sports channels, like a salon chain near San Francisco.


But locally, it’s still mainly women booking pedicures, Eakman said. "They all say, ‘Oh, I should bring my husband in,’ but it never happens," she said. "I get about five men a year who come in for pedicures — they either love it, or they hate it."


Whether you intend to keep up with it or just feel like treating yourself once in a while, a truly good pedicure is something you should leave to professionals — at least every now and then.


"It’s so much easier having someone else doing your feet than you having to bend over and do all the work," Eakman said. "Plus we can put a little more elbow grease into it."