5 Tips to Make Your Pointe Shoes Last Longer
The life of your shank and box will depend on how much arch support you need, how often you dance, and how much you weigh. Your pointe shoes soften because of the sweat, heat and pressure caused by your feet. Even if you’ve been to one of our professional pointe shoe fittings at the Move Dancewear Store, this doesn’t make your shoes immortal! It does mean however that your shoes will fit correctly, giving the optimum arch and toe support, with the most comfort possible. Unfortunately, the more you dance, the quicker your shoes will wear. That doesn’t mean though that you should limit how often you dance. With loving preparation and maintenance, the life expectancy of your shoes can be prolonged. We’ve chatted with Alison Eager and Emilia Miller, third years at the Northern Ballet School and models for Move Dancewear, to find out how they make their pointe shoes last longer. Check out our 5 top tips!
1. Storing Your Pointe Shoes
Plastic will suffocate your shoes! If you really want to extend the life of your shoes, the easiest first step you can take is ensuring that you have the correct dance shoes bag. Alison uses a netted bag, and recommends that you keep your shoes in a mesh drawstring bag to carry them to and from class and performances. Remember to take them out when you get home so they properly air and dry. Check out Bloch’s mesh pointe shoes bag for inspiration.
2. Drying Your Pointe Shoes
Pointe shoes are specially crafted with glue and fabric, both of which become soft and break down when wet. Your shoes take hours to dry, but there are ways that you can speed up this process to reduce the amount of time that your shank and box is at risk of being weakened. Drying and airing your shoes properly will also reduce the amount of unwanted smells caused by bacteria growth from your sweat.
Take your toe pads out of the shoes to dry separately after use, then stuff the shoe with absorbent paper to draw out the moisture and help reshape the box. If you’re at your wits end for drying solutions, and you’re embarrassed by your feet smelling far from roses, we have a solution! Get two pieces of cloth or an old pair of socks, add a tablespoon of baking soda to each. Tie an elastic band around your pouches* and place them in your shoes overnight, remembering to take them out before class! The baking soda should have absorbed moisture and smells.
*Ensure no baking soda comes in contact with the shoe as this can soften any suede parts.
3. Rotating Your Pointe Shoes
You don’t have to be a professional to have multiple pairs of pointe shoes. If you’re a hobbyist or student, you won’t be going through a pair a night, but you will find huge benefits from alternating between two or more pairs. Alison told us:
"I tend to break in my pointe shoes quite quickly if I’m not careful so I usually would have a rotation of 3 or 4 pairs of pointe shoes on the go. This helps draw out the life of each shoe and helps me pick and choose depending on whether I need a softer or a harder pair for a performance or class."
A further benefit of rotating means that the pair you didn’t use yesterday can be worn today while you allow the worn pair to dry out for tomorrow!
4. Hardening Your Pointe Shoes
The shank and box of your shoes are designed to offer optimum support, but they will soften and support you less with continued moisture absorption. Alison uses shellac as a hack to extend the life of her pointe shoes:
"When my shoes are coming towards the end of their life I use a varnish called ‘Shellac’ that you apply to the inside shank and box, which actually re-hardens the shoe slightly, getting a bit more time from them which is great!"
If you can’t get your hands on shellac, try superglue. These substances help to make your shoes more water resistant as well as harder. When Alison applies shellac, she pours a small amount into the tip of her shoes so it covers the box. For the shank, Alison would paint a small amount in the precise location on the sole that required hardening. Allow a good amount of time to dry, at least 36 hours, before you wear them. We recommend that you prepare your shoes with shellac or glue before your first use, as the longer you leave it, the more likely it is that your shoes have already begun to soften.
5. Protecting Your Pointe Shoes
Don’t wear your pointe shoes outside to keep them as clean as possible. If you do find a stain on the satin, don’t be tempted to pancake the shoe or try to clean a stain. Pancaking the shoe may be required by a dance school to give a matte appearance by using calamine lotion, but any kind of water-based liquid near your shoes will just soften and damage them. Keep them safe and dry indoors!
Our pointe shoes fittings offered Bloch Serenade, Bloch Triomph, Grishko 2007, and Limited Gaynor Mindens. You’ll find that different brands support your needs better than others, but as Grishko 2007 has a harder box, it does tend to break in less quickly. Emilia found that her pair of Grishko 2007 took longer than other brands to break in. Shop our full range of pointe shoes. We recommend a professional pointe shoes fitting, which we no longer offer now we have closed our shop.
Always use caution when trying any of the above methods, particularly when applying chemicals. These tips have been collated for you from dancers to give some ideas as to how to make your pointe shoes last longer. We cannot be responsible for any damage caused.