How To Exfoliate Your Feet (& The Products To Use) — Just In Time For Sandal Season

Young woman applying body scrub at home

If you're reading this article, you've likely already realized that applying lotion isn't the most effective way to achieve smooth, soft feet. Sure, moisturizing is important, but to really get the job done, you're going to need one of the best foot exfoliators. These types of products, which come in many different forms, will work either chemically or manually — things like foot peels and exfoliating creams will fall into the chemical exfoliant category, while tools (think foot files and pumice stones) are manual exfoliants.

According to spokesperson for and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), Dr. Lauren Wurster — with whom Bustle spoke for this article — our feet and heels are especially prone to dryness because of how the skin layers are structured. Everything from too-hot bath water and cold temps to dry air and harsh chemicals found in soaps, body washes, and swimming pools can dry out the skin on our feet, as can wearing loose shoes (like flip flops and open-backed sandals), shoes without socks, or wearing no shoes at all, Dr. Wurster says. But with the six foot exfoliants ahead (and a great, moisturizing foot cream), you can achieve smooth, soft heels and feet in no time.

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The Best Exfoliating Foot Mask

Not messing around? This Bealuz exfoliating foot peel (which comes in the form of two essence-filled booties that you wear for about an hour) will, after a few days, cause dead skin from your feet to literally peel off in big strips. It sounds gross, but it's actually oddly satisfying — and it's truly one of the most effective ways to get rid of all that rough, dry skin.

Do take the time to do a patch test to make sure this chemical peel won't irritate your skin, and Dr. Wurster adds that if you want a gentler foot peel, you can use one that's designed for facial use instead.


The Best Foot File

Use the Amope Pedi Perfect Advanced on dry feet for a safe way to slough off dead skin without the risks that come with razors, files, and blades. Holding it gently, and without putting too much pressure on your skin, carefully rub the electric, battery-operated foot file back and forth over your heels. There is some mess involved as small particles of dead skin will flake off your feet, so use this in the tub or over a towel. This should not be used if you are diabetic or have vascular issues.


The Best Exfoliating Stone

Steer clear of electric debriders, which have blades, or files with sharp teeth, as those types of tools can be overly aggressive and leave your feet sore and with cuts that can become infected, Dr. Wurster says. Instead, use a safer tool, like the Tweezerman Sole Smoother, to gently remove calluses and soften the skin on your feet. Its long handle makes it more user-friendly than traditional pumice stones, too.


The Best Exfoliating Foot Cream

To soften dry feet — and keep them that way — Dr. Wurster advises using a moisturizer that contains at least some of the following ingredients : urea, aloe, hyaluronic acid, lanolin, ceramides, glycerin, shea butter, salicylic acid, and lactic acid.

O'Keeffe's Healthy Feet Exfoliating Foot Cream contains both urea and lactic acid to exfoliate skin, so you'll get noticeably softer feet after just one use. For even better absorption, put on cotton socks or cover your heels with saran wrap after applying the moisturizer. One final tip from the expert: Don't apply any moisturizer between your toes, as all that extra moisture can lead to infection.


The Best Foot Scrub

Just like its name suggests, The Body Shop Peppermint Reviving Pumice Exfoliating Foot Scrub is a refreshing gel-scrub made from crushed volcanic rock and community-trade peppermint oil for all-over exfoliation. Not only will it leave your feet feeling smooth and soft, but it also smells amazing. The peppermint oil delivers a nice cooling sensation, which feels especially relieving after a long day on your feet, and it can also help prevent foot odors from forming.

Pro tip: Follow up with the brand's Peppermint Intensive Cooling Foot Rescue cream.


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Though it's not an exfoliating product, Asutra's Freshen Your Feet foot soak works to soften skin and make exfoliation easier with a formula containing lavender and tree tree oils, aloe vera, vitamin E, jojoba oil, and Dead Sea salts. It also helps reduce foot odor and alleviate soreness; Use it as the first step in your next DIY pedicure or foot-pampering session. If it's good enough for the feet of Venus Williams, Asutra's chief brand officer and co-owner, it's good enough for us!


Dr. Lauren Wurster, D.P.M., A.A.C.F.A.S., a podiatrist and spokesperson for/member of the American Podiatric Medical Association.