I never really used toe caps when I first started pointe work.
There is a fine difference between the different types of toe pads – foam, silicone, neoprene seem to be the most common ones. And then there is the old-fashioned animal wool.
Our silicone toe pads, by Sansha, are probably your best choice because, protecting your toes doesn’t come at the expense of your shoe size! Here’s why.
Foam Toe Pads – they’re cheap and provide quite a cushion for your toes. Being cheap, they are easily changed (no money concerns there). Being foam, easily washed. The downside is that you will move up by one or two shoe sizes, and possibly even two widths and your shoes will look too big for your feet. Still, they do the job and are great for beginners whose toes are still really tender compared to the more experience dancer.
Neoprene toe pads – similar to foam, but slightly slimmer which means that you have less of a difference in shoe size; we’d say they are the next step, when your toes become a little more accustomed to pointe work. Price is somewhere in between.
Silicone toe pads – these are made of soft, washable silicone and provided you don’t touch them with oils or alcohols, they will last and can be cleaned. They make almost no difference to the shoe size and are a comfortable fit (like a second sock, but covering only your toes). Downside might be the price, but it’s well worth your investment.
You may want to ask your teacher what’s best for you – every dancer might have his or her own needs. With time, you will learn to choose what suits you best but feel free to ask us if you have questions. Happy dancing!