There are certain beauty habits, like squeezing out blackheads or peeling off a gel manicure, that are oddly satisfying, but also frowned upon since they can cause damage to your skin or nails. The best foot peels to remove dead skin give you that same feeling of satisfaction, but without the guilt, since they leave you with super-soft feet sans any damage.
While many of the foot peels on the market incorporate gentle botanical ingredients, like lavender and rosemary extract, they also include acids that pack a serious punch. While this might sound scary, the acids in question are alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which are derived from natural substances. Also popular in exfoliating treatments for your face (although in smaller concentrations), AHAs, like glycolic and lactic acid, help get rid of dead skin cells by stimulating the skin's shedding process, which is why they're the true star ingredient in at-home foot peels.
To keep feet smooth during the intense peeling process, you'll also want to look for moisturizing ingredients like castor oil and argan oil. Not only is castor oil a humectant that helps retain moisture, but it can also help fight fungus. Other popular botanicals used in foot peels — like lavender, peppermint, and lemon — help eliminate foot odor, so if that's something you're dealing with, be on the lookout for these.
Because all foot peels use some combination of AHAs, you'll notice that they do come with a few warnings on the packaging. Since there's some heavy peeling action going on, if you have any open cuts or wounds on your feet, hold off on the peel. Anyone with diabetes, eczema, or who is pregnant or nursing should also avoid these types of products.
For everyone else looking for a solution for dry, cracked feet, here are three of the best foot-peeling masks on the market.
1The Cult-Favorite Foot Peel
The OG of foot peels, Baby Foot is the product that started all of the fascination with these at-home masks — and it currently has over 6,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. Each bootie (the box comes with one pair) is packed with a serum made of 16 natural extracts, or "fruit acids," that gently removed dead, damaged skin, including lemon, meadowsweet, and burdock root.
To see the full benefits, many reviewers recommend soaking your feet in warm water before using the treatment and soaking them at some point during the following days to get the peeling really going. A few also warned to remove any nail polish before soaking in the treatment, as the acids will wear it away.
"I was completely skeptical about this product, but I can honestly say it works," writes one Amazon reviewer. "It took a good 5-6 days for the peeling to begin. In the end, I did have baby soft feet." Another writes, "I am fairly certain that magic is involved somehow."
2Another Great, More Affordable Peel
While most foot peels rely solely on AHAs to remove dead skin and callouses, K-beauty brand Tony Moly combines an AHA (glycolic acid) with a BHA (salicylic acid). While both are exfoliating ingredients, BHAs tend to be gentler for people with sensitive skin. Tony Moly's formula also contains peppermint extract, lavender, and argan oil to soothe feet as they peel and help keep them moisturized.
There's also a separate pouch of foot cream included, but reviewers highly recommend wearing socks as this won't prevent your feet from peeling in the days after. Expect the shedding to begin within 4-6 days of application.
3The Best Budget-Friendly Peel
For the least expensive option that gets the job done, try the Kocostar foot peel. Glycolic and lactic acids will start removing calluses and dead skin between three and 10 days after you use the treatment. They've also included 33 botanical essences like mint, rosemary, and jasmine extract for a refreshing, spa-like experience at home.
Though the Kocostar treatment comes with adhesive tape to keep the individual booties in place, many reviewers recommend planning to stay on the couch during the 90-minute soak, as they are still quite slippery to walk around in.
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