If you knew me as a child, you’d never know I would have a problem fitting all my shoes in my closet. In fact, you’d probably think a teeny-tiny Manhattan apartment closet would be the perfect fit for a girl who hated shoes. My mother suffered so much distress just trying to buy her kid some clogs (FYI, I hated everything), and I fully embraced the summer months where I could actually get away with going barefoot. Still, the proof of wearing flip-flops (or less) on grass, sand, and concrete showed up on my feet.
Rough. Dry. Simply, not cute.
Today, I like shoes (understatement of the century) and being a 25-year-old woman and a New Yorker, I clearly understand the need to wear them, but living in the Big Apple presents another sad foot issue. Not only do your shoes get worn out in like, a week, but your feet show all the signs of literally having to walk everywhere.
With that being said, my feet aren’t sandal commercial cute. I try to give myself regular pedicures and moisturizing is an essential. The bottoms of ‘em? Yeah, they’re not super soft or anything, but I figured that’s just the way it was going to be. That is, until I started to see all these foot peel and foot exfoliation masks popping up all over the place.
So are our feet supposed to be smooth and soft like the skin on our faces? Should I be regularly working this into my self-care routine? I caught up with dermatologist Dr. Arielle Kauvar to find out how to put the right foot forward (pun intended) in this genre of beauty.
While it’s not the prettiest sight in the world, Dr. Kauvar tells me that the hard skin on your feet can be protective—think walking on shells or stones at the beach. However, she also notes that with repetitive motion and even from the pressure of your shoes, that hard skin can “cause the dead cell layer to thicken even more and form calluses."
"The lumps and bumps can be painful to walk on. Exfoliating treatments will reduce the thickness of the skin,” she tells me.
So what should you actually exfoliate them with? Dr. Kauvar tells us you’ll want to keep your eyes out for scrubs of moisturizers with ingredients like urea, alpha hydroxyl acids, glycolic acid, lactic, or salicylic acid, which you can apply weekly. Doing this will not only make them softer, but also reduce the chance of cracking.
However, she notes that peels shouldn’t be applied more than once a month, as overuse and over-exfoliation could cause other issues.
But that’s not your one-stop-shop for perfect feet, sorry. In order to prevent the calluses from coming back, you’re gonna need to do some shoe shopping. “In order to prevent the calluses from forming again, it’s important to relieve those pressure points by finding proper footwear,” she tells us.
See, we’re giving you an excuse to buy shoes!
And if you are curious about some of the foot peels out there—I tried the Patchology Masks, which had some serious exfoliation action—we outlined them in the shopping section below.