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Whether you’re wearing open-heeled sandals or going on a tropical getaway, there will be a time when you’ll want to get your feet in the best shape possible. Your first step? Getting rid of all the dead skin that may have (unfortunately) accumulated over time. From calluses to corns, there are a number of products and tools out there that slough off rough areas and get your feet baby soft.
First, you should determine which type of tool is best for your needs—perhaps a pumice stone for manual exfoliation, or a treatment gel. While you might see tools made for heavy-duty sloughing, it's best to choose a gentle tool that allows for safely removing calluses. And, of course, you'll probably want one that's easy to use at home.
Below, the best callus removers for show-stopping tootsies.
Best File: Rikans Foot File and Callus Remover
Type: Manual, foot file
With thousands of positive reviews, you can trust that this simple foot file gets almost everything off. Flaky skin, calluses, corns…consider them banished after using the Rikans Foot File. It can be used on wet and dry surfaces—so shower scrubbing is encouraged—and only light pressure is needed. Focus on areas that get the most friction during the day, like your heels and toes.
Best Cream: PurSources PurOrganica Urea 40% Foot Cream + Pumice Stone
Urea’s best known for treating rough skin conditions, like eczema, psoriasis, corns, and calluses. Basically, what it does is remove dead tissue and ups the moisture in your skin. It’s also the star ingredient in this thick, rich cream. Reviewers rave that after consistent use their calluses significantly decreased without any buffing, filing, or grating. While it works wonders for your feet, it can also be applied to dry elbows.
Best Pumice Stone: Pumice Valley Natural Earth Lava Pumice Stone
Type: Manual, stone
This naturally black foot stone is made of pure volcanic lava. When massaged onto the feet, it not only buffs away unwanted dead skin, but rejuvenates and stimulates blood flow. A lot of our time is spent on our feet—whether that’s walking, running errands, working out—so it’s important to give our feet a break and focus our attention on relieving fatigue. Rub onto areas where your feet get the most pressure and friction and really turn this exfoliation into a therapeutic experience.
Best Electric: Emjoi Micro-Pedi Callus Remover
Type: Electric, roller
I’ve been using my Emjoi for years. It’s battery-powered, strong, and so simple to use. Whenever I’m in-between pedicures, it’s my go-to method in smoothing out my soles and my heels. And it really works—the spinning nail file evens everything out and in a matter of seconds, my feet are touchable. If you have particularly stubborn calluses, opt for ultra coarse refill rollers.
Best Peel: Baby Foot Exfoliation Foot Peel
If you don’t like seeing the skin on your feet peel for days at a time, this one-time disposable foot treatment isn’t for you. But, if you’re like me, and you find satisfaction in knowing that your dead skin is shedding then keep reading. Packed with botanical extracts, the gel formula penetrates the skin to soften dry, cracked feet over the course of two weeks. Simply slip on the foot masks and cover them with socks. After an hour, remove the masks and wash your feet. Then, sit back and watch the magic happen.
Best for Toes: Esarora Foot Scrubber Foot File Callus Remover
Type: Manual, foot file
Smooth every inch of your toes with a pack of four files that do all the dirty work. Though all four of these files do a great job at filing down your feet, we recommend using the grit file for smaller surfaces like your toes. It makes it easier to get into hard-to-reach areas without accidentally hurting yourself.
Best for Hands: MIUKAA Muikaa Hand Callus Remover
Type: Manual, blade
Surgical equipment? Nope, just a super handy and mighty callus and corn remover that’s small enough to get all the nooks and grooves of your hands. Made of high-quality titania, this tool comes with ten sharp blades, so be extra careful and light-handed when removing rough skin. We recommend starting with small strokes first until you feel comfortable.
When it comes to removing calluses, flaky skin, and corns, we’re giving top honors to the Rikans Foot File and Callus Remover. It’s simple, but the thousands of positive reviews don’t lie—it’ll remove just about everything. Plus, it only needs light pressure to get the job done. We’re also big fans of the Baby Foot Exfoliation Foot Peel, which doesn’t involve any manual labor. The botanical extract-packed gel penetrates the skin to soften dry, cracked feet over the course of two weeks—shedding it all in the process. It’s equal parts gross and satisfying—but truly, it’s effective. Finally, the Emjoi Micro-Pedi Callus Remover is great for keeping the feet soft and smooth in-between pedicures. This strong, battery-powered file buffs away calluses and dry skin with ease.
What to Look for in a Callus Remover
The Right Type
Callus removers come in multiple forms, from physical pumice stones, foot files, and razors to treatment gels and creams. Nail artist and LeChat Nails educator Syreeta Aaron says the first thing to look into when shopping for a callus remover is what type is best suited for your needs. “If there’s not a lot of buildup or dead skin, a cream is sufficient to use, along with a pumice stone,” she says. “A foot file is the least abrasive option, and is great for in-between maintenance after a callus has already been addressed.”
If your calluses are more serious, consider opting for stronger options. “If you really need to attack a callus, use a razor or a gel treatment, as these will work for more severe cases.” She notes that razors are illegal in most states and they can leave your feet more prone to infection. “I wouldn’t trust myself at home on my own using a razor, because you can take off too much skin which can leave your feet burning when you walk.” Yup, we’ll stick to gel treatments.
Safe and Gentle
Aaron also stresses the importance of using a product that's safe and gentle, even if you’re trying to remove a tougher callus. We’ve already mentioned the potential dangers of razors, but gel treatments—which are formulated with a mix of skincare acids to remove dead skin—can be very strong and irritating if not used correctly. They’re safe, but be sure to always follow manufacturer’s directions for use.
Easy to Use
Callus removers that are easy to use and don’t involve much manual labor are always great options. An electric foot buffer requires little to no effort, making callus and corn removal a breeze, while foot masks with plastic booties are a great (and relatively mess-free) way to kick back and relax while addressing any pesky rough patches.
Do callus removers work?
According to Aaron, callus removers—both physical and chemical—do work as long as they are used properly.
Do callus removers hurt?
Callus removers aren’t meant to hurt, but Aaron says that if they're used improperly and you accidentally take off too much skin, they can cause discomfort and even lead to infection.
She also mentions that gel callus removers left on the feet too long can potentially burn the skin, so it’s important to always follow directions. However, as a general rule of thumb, she says that gel treatments should only be left on for three to five minutes max. “With a gel callus remover, you still have to be careful and use gloves, as it’s a treatment to remove skin and shouldn’t get on your hands,” she adds.
Are callus removers safe?
“When used properly, callus removers are safe,” says Aaron. She does think it’s best to leave callus removal to a professional since tools and treatments need to be used with caution and instructions must be followed carefully. However, when you just can’t make it to a salon, consider them a safe and effective method for leaving your feet baby soft.