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I Tried 5 High-Heel Hacks To Make Your Formal Less Painful

Yes, I put a maxi pad in my shoe so you don't have to.

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Hello! I'm Jemima, and I'm taller than pretty much everyone I know. That means I wear heels very rarely, so when I do, they hurt like a mofo.

Jemima Skelley

Spending a night in high heels honestly isn't anyone's idea of fun. Yes, they make you look great, and yes, they're often the perfect way to complete an A+ outfit. Not many people would choose to wear flats to their formal. But that means that you're facing an evening of pain, especially if you plan to cut a move on the dance floor.

There are a ton of ~hacks~ out there for making high heels comfortable, or at least bearable. But are they just Pinterest nonsense or do they actually work? I decided to test them out for you, so that the only formal pain you experience is your Vodka Cruiser hangover the next day.

Jemima Skelley / BuzzFeed

- I have to wear the heels for as long as I can last in them. Because I work sitting at a desk, I have to try to spend as much time standing up as possible.

- I must use my most uncomfortable pair of shoes. I bought these babies for $200 earlier this year, wore them once, and haven't taken them out of my cupboard since. They are not comfortable.

- I also have to spend a day wearing heels with no modification so I can compare to the days when I'm doing the hacks.

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The hack: I used to use Party Feet back when I was 18 years old and wore heels every time I went out. Thank god those days are over. But my memory is that they didn’t really provide any comfort at all, and I ended up just taking them out halfway through the night.


The result:
I was pretty surprised to find that they actually helped a little with the pain. Though it wasn’t totally gone, it was certainly easier to make it to the end of the day without wanting to take my shoes off and burn them in a pit. That being said, they’re definitely something that works better in closed-toe shoes, which can be limiting.

The score: 4/5

The hack: This is one of the most ridiculous hacks I’ve read in a while, but it sounds like it might just work? Obviously, this is the kind of thing that you’d want to try with closed-toe shoes so you don’t have a pad sticking out of your shoe all day. But for continuity’s sake, I stuck with these open ones. I spent the whole day praying no one would look at my feet.

The result: I had to cut off the wings, for obvious reasons, and trim the end so it didn't stick out the back. When I first put my shoes on, it actually felt really nice. Like that feeling you get when you first get into bed, but on my feet. But they did absolutely nothing to cushion my feet, and just made me look like an idiot. Though I would 100% recommend this to anyone who has an issue with foot sweat.

The score: 2/5

The hack: Look, I am not entirely sure if this is a medically safe thing to do…but here we are. There are a few different “foot-numbing” creams and sprays available online to help women with stiletto pain. It’s basically the same thing that you rub into sports injuries, like Deep Heat. But some people claim that it’s the best way to avoid pain from high heels. There are a few different varieties, but I tried this one from Amazon, mainly because it was the only one in stock at the time that shipped to Australia.

The result: When I first put the cream on, it felt soothing and cool, like a fancy foot mask. But after a minute, my feet just felt sticky and kind of gross. I thought that the cream would dry, but it didn't, so when I put my shoes on they were slippery and hard to walk in. While it stopped me from getting that sharp pain that shoots through the balls of your feet after standing too long in heels, instead I just had a dull ache, which stayed even when I was sitting down. Some people swear that this cream works wonders, but honestly, it did nothing for me.

The score: 1/5

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(Feet are really gross and I'm sorry to make you look at them but I tried to add emojis to make your experience a little nicer.)

The hack: Apparently, if you sticky tape your third and fourth toe together, it stops the pain. This honestly feels like such a nonsense idea, but I’d seen it praised in a LOT of places online, like here, here, and here. The ~science~ behind it is that there is apparently a nerve between these two toes, which causes a lot of pain in the ball of your foot when you put too much pressure on it. But when you tape your toes together, the weight is distributed more evenly, and in turn will cause less pain. Considering tape costs like $2, it’s definitely worth a shot.

The result: Not going to lie, I felt very silly sitting at my desk taping my toes together. But, to my surprise, it really, really worked. I was able to last all the way until the end of the day without feeling any pain. I even went and did grocery shopping with them on, even though I looked like a big ol’ weirdo. Sure, I still had pain, but it was considerably less than wearing shoes without the tape on.

The score: 4.5/5

The hack: I do not know who originally came up with this idea, but it sounds very fake. You're meant to run cold water over your feet, then put lotion on them, and then put your shoes on while they're still damp. Supposedly the lotion makes your feet soft, which the water seals in, and then the two combined stop your feet from aching. I do not understand this logic. But we may as well give it a go.

The result: First off, I didn't want anyone walking into the office bathroom to find me sticking my feet in the sinks, so I had to use a bowl of cold water. Straight off the bat I could tell that this wasn’t going to do much. My feet felt slimy and slippery and I honestly just prayed that this wouldn’t be the hack that causes me to break an ankle. I hoped that the lotion would just absorb into my skin and walking would get a lot easier, but the water stopped that from really happening. My feet hurt more than they normally would because they slid forward to the front of the shoe. After three and a half hours I just had to take them off and give up.

The score: 0/5

High heels are pretty much always going to hurt. But they're also always going to make you look bangin', so giving up wearing them just isn't an option. The best option for me was definitely taping my toes together, followed closely by using Party Feet. All the other "hacks" are 100% not even worth trying, and actually made my feet hurt even more.

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