How Long Do Pointe Shoes Last?

When a ballerina stands on the tips of their toes and dances on them, it’s called pointe dance. It’s possibly the most well-known move in ballet. To perform it safely, other than technique, you’ll need the proper footwear, called pointe shoes.

But how long do pointe shoes last?

This guide will give you the definitive answer to that question and more!

How Long Do Pointe Shoes Last?

Many factors determine a pair of pointe shoe longevity, from experience to the frequency of use. But, on average, each pair will last for about 12 hours of use.

For beginners

If you’re a new ballet dancer who doesn’t practice often or doesn’t perform pointe moves frequently, then a good pair will last you for a long time. Many beginner dancers take as much as a full year before their ballet pointe shoes become worn out.

But, remember, the average “life expectancy” of a pair of pointe (when used en pointe) is around 12 hours. Take it as a rule of thumb.

Let’s say you practice en pointe for one hour every week. That pair of beginner pointe shoes should last for three months. Depending on the brand, quality, and care you put into maintaining that pair of pointe, it could last even longer.

For professionals

However, professional dancers are run by different rules. They can burn through a brand-new pair of shoes in only a single day.

It’s not unheard of for professional ballerinas to practice for 8-10 hours every day. It coincides with the lifespan of a pair. If they practice for 8-10 hours daily, five days a week, there’s a good chance they would burn through 3-4 pairs of pointe every week.

That’s why pro-level ballet dancers carry many pairs of pointe whenever they travel to a show or a competition.

Why Do Pointe Shoes Wear Out So Quickly?

During use, the shoes must deal with a lot of friction and force. The dancer’s total weight is placed on top of the tips of the shoes. The shoes will wear out friction, combined with moisture and heat from sweat.

Another reason is that pointe shoes – even the best ones – aren’t made from solid and sturdy materials. Pointe shoes are made of paper, cardboard, glue, nails, and strips of fabric. As a result, they don’t last long by design.

The first part to go, usually, is the shank (the piece of material at the bottom of the shoes.) It can break from wear. Within the shoes, near the tips, are the toebox. They are made from soft foam to pad your toes and protect them from injury. With enough use, the toebox can become weak and lose its protective property.

When any of that happens, those pointe shoes need to be replaced as quickly as possible.

dead Pointe Shoes

Signs To Know When Your Pointe Shoes Are Dead

“Dead” in this case either means broken or no longer suitable for use. It’s pretty common parlance in the ballet community.

When you suspect your pair of pointe is dead, you’ll need to order a new pair as soon as possible if you don’t have a replacement. It can be extremely risky dancing with a dead pair of pointe. The point of the shoes is to protect your feet. A dead pair doesn’t provide much protection and can do you more harm than good.

Here are some signs that your pointe shoes are dead and it’s time to consider a replacement.

The shank is broken

If the shank becomes too worn out or so soft that you’re able to feel the floor beneath your feet, then replace the shoes.

The box and the wings soften

The toe box and the wings (the sides of the shoes near the front of your feet) have to be firm and hug your feet snugly. If they soften up so much to the point your feet start to sink into the shoes, it’s not a good sign.

old Pointe Shoes

You are able to feel the floor when you go en pointe

The toebox protects your toes from the shock and pressure of going en pointe. While it’s still working, you shouldn’t be able to feel the floor when you stand on the tips of your toes. Once you do, the toebox material has begun to wear down.

It’s very unsafe to wear a pair of pointe shoes with worn-out toe boxes.

Ill-Fitting shoes

Pointe shoes must fit your feet perfectly. Never buy a pair that’s even half a size larger or smaller. Besides being the top safety gear for ballet, keep in mind that pointe shoes are disposable items. They will wear out, and you’ll have to discard them eventually. Unlike other dance forms, you don’t buy these shoes to keep for a long time.

Buy a new pair if the shoes don’t fit or no longer fit you well. Do not attempt to dance on a pair of ill-fitting shoes. Many problems can happen if you do, like chafing and increased risks of injuries.

How To Make Pointe Shoes Last Longer

Though pointe shoes are disposable items, keeping them for as long as possible is still better. There are maintenance tricks that you can use to extend their service life. That can save you tons of money over the long term!

Remove the toe pads after use

Take out the toe pads immediately after you’re done wearing the shoes. The toe pads can soak up a lot of moisture and heat while you’re dancing. Taking them out will give them a chance to air-dry, slowing their wear rate.

Darn the shoes

darning pointe shoes

You can protect the platform of the shoes by darning them. Basically, you sew a thick layer of thread surrounding the platform. It acts as a second layer of protection between the shoes and the floor. The darning will reduce the wear rate of the shoes and can extend their lifespan for a couple more hours.

However, darning is a fairly time-consuming process. You also need some practice with the needle-and-thread to make a solid darning layer.

Wear several pairs in rotation

Pointe shoes aren’t side-specific, meaning you can take a shoe and wear it on whichever feet you want. So, buy multiple pairs and number them. Rotate new and old ones as you go through classes and performances. This will prevent the exact area of each shoe from wearing out. You’ll have to buy replacements less often!

Store Them Right

Moisture and heat are the enemies of your shoes. As you dance, the shoes will soak up a lot of sweat even with tights on. If the shoes aren’t aired properly after class or each performance, they will wear out super quickly.

The trick is to avoid keeping your shoes in your dance bag. Instead, hang them on your door or somewhere with a lot of air to dry out naturally.

Some pointe shoe brands can last longer

Capezio Women's Aria Pointe Shoe
Capezio Women’s Aria Pointe Shoe

Our last “trick” isn’t really a trick, per se. More of a recommendation.

If you want a pair that lasts for a long time, buy a high-quality pair from reputable shoemakers. Not only that, you need to pick the right model, as well. Practice shoes generally last longer than performance shoes.

Some of the brands that have a reputation for durability are:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Should I buy pointe shoes with an extra growing room?

That’s a big no-no. The fit for your ballet shoes should be perfect for your current feet size. Fit is so important that professional ballerinas go to shops to have their feet measured and the shoes tailored to their individual sizes.

If your pointe shoes aren’t a good fit, you’ll risk injuring your feet.

And remember, pointe shoes are discardable. They also don’t last long enough for growth to be an issue.

2. Can I revive dead pointe shoes?

Yes, but it’s not recommended. You should only try to “revive” a dead pair of pointe shoes if you don’t have an alternative pair to fall back on and your new pair hasn’t been shipped yet.

One of the premier methods is to bake your shoes in the oven. The heat is going to harden the materials and allow you to extract one more use out of the shoes. But after this one, it’s best to throw it away.

  • Preheat your oven to 360°F. While it’s doing its thing, cover the inside of your shoes with floor wax.
  • Once the oven is nicely heated, bring out a baking tray and line it with aluminum foil. Place the shoes on the tray and put them into the oven.
  • Do not turn the oven on. Let the shoes simmer in the residual heat overnight.
  • The day after, the shoes should be hardened enough for you to wear one last time.

Final Words

From how long pointe shoes last to how to maintain them properly, we hope this guide has proven useful to you. Pointe shoes are the quintessential gear for any ballet dancer. Now that you have known more about this type of footwear, you’re now one step closer to being a master at everything ballet-related!

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