Most of us didn't get pedicures during the pandemic. But even in regular years, keeping the skin on one's feet and heels soft, supple, and un-ashy requires commitment. "The epidermis is much thicker on the soles of your feet," explains Cheri Frey, a dermatologist based in Maryland. "As a response to the pressure of standing, this skin also sheds less frequently. This, along with friction, can lead to callouses." It's that thickening that makes it difficult for regular foot creams to penetrate and nourish your heels and soles. And that's where foot peels come in. (Drum roll, please.)
How do foot peels work?
If you haven't heard of foot peels, seen the afters on Tik Tok, or tried one yourself, allow me: A foot peel is a baggie of exfoliants—usually glycolic, alpha hydroxy or lactic acids—that you slip onto your foot. After allowing it to absorb, you remove, cleanse and...nothing happens. At first.
Five to seven days after using a foot peel, the outer layer of your skin—usually the dead, desiccated stuff that's causing rough and dry patches, starts coming off in satisfying sheets, allowing smoother, softer feet to reveal themselves.
Are foot peels safe?
According to Frey, the process is entirely safe, unless your feet have any active wounds and sores. But because of the strength of the acidic blends you're dealing with, it's also important to diligently follow instructions. Don't leave them on longer than indicated, or apply to other areas of your body.
Gloria L. Williams, a celebrity pedicurist, reflexologist and founder of of Footnanny, stresses the importance of moisturizing after applying a foot peel. "You'll want to take care of the new skin you've revealed," she says, adding that hydrators like shea, coconut or olive oils are great options. Depending on the needs of your tootsies, the foot peels ahead should leave your feet quenched, moisturized and ready for
Glycolic and lactic acid team up in this OG foot peel that is both safe and effective. A bonafide cornucopia of botanical extracts means that while the exfoliating properties are deeply powerful, the result is gentle and doesn't sting or smell.
A three-acid blend—glycolic, lactic, salicylic—comes in separate pouch that you squeeze into plastic socks. The footies tie-up easily so you won't risk spilling, and the result, five to seven days later, is dramatic, even on the toughest feet fissures.
White lactic acid and urea are the top two exfoliants, a unique slosh of fruit acids makes this formulation more gentle than some. Instructions also indicate soaking feet first and wearing the treatment booties under socks to enhance absorption—both great tips that work.
Two cotton-lined booties come with a baby food-like pouch of glycolic, salicylic, lactic, and citric acids, for an elevated take on a somewhat non-glamorous process. Some reviewers did comment on the longevity of the peeling process—two weeks, potentially—but that's a good thing if you're really going for deep softening.
What you'll get for a tenth of the price of some of the foot peels on this list: A strong blend of exfoliants that effectively loosens dead skin cells on even the thickest and most stubborn zones. What you won't get? Some reviewers complained the formula was a bit tingly and left their feet tight, although slathering on a basic moisturizer does ease any lingering discomfort.
Who said foot peel booties can’t spark joy? These sock-like numbers are an aqua leopard print, and the gel inside is effective and non-irritating. Slip them on, throw up a ‘gram of your cute tootsies, and let the peeling commence.
If your feet are bad but not like that bad, this 30-minute version might be your best bet. In less than an episode of Shadow & Bone, you’ll be primed for soft and revitalized skin in about a week.
Don’t let the funky translation on the package—“sead” skin cells—scare you away. This aloe-based foot peel is one of the best bets on Amazon for effective and satisfying results, whether you’re dealing with cracked heels, thickened soles, or just heavy duty dryness.