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Face masks may have previously reigned supreme as the ultimate self-care product, but, mark our words, foot peels are about to take over. These slip-on, leave-on treatments are exactly what they sound like—heavy-duty peels meant to deeply exfoliate the thick, callused layers of skin on your feet. Not only do they leave your tootsies incredibly soft and smooth afterward, with many of them you’ll actually get to see the layers of dead skin slough off in the days post-peel. Filed under: Equal parts gross and satisfying.
Try one if you can’t get to the salon for a proper pedicure or if you need to get ready for sandal season (because if you’re anything like us, your feet have been buried in slippers or cozy socks and haven’t seen the light of day for months). And definitely grab one the next time you want a little beauty activity to tack on to your next Netflix streaming sesh.
Either way, these are hands down—erm, or should we say feet down— the best foot peels to try.
Best Overall: Baby Foot Original Exfoliation Foot Peel
The OG of all OGs, there’s no better known or more popular foot peel than this one. Around since 1997, this best-seller isn’t just one of the most beloved options out there, it’s also one of the most intense. A fruit-acid-based formula uses 16 different natural extracts to exfoliate and moisturize, plus salicylic acid to induce peeling and leave feet feeling noticeably softer, says Dr. Annie Gonzalez, a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami. Pop on the pre-soaked plastic booties for an hour—you can soak your feet first to up the effects—and watch in amazement as all the dead skin peels off over the next few days. (FYI, you can pop on an oversize pair of socks over the plastic booties to minimize mess, which we highly recommend.) You’ll usually start to notice some peeling after about 5 to 7 days, though it can take up to two weeks for the full results, so just make sure to plan accordingly if you’re trying to whip your tootsies into shape before a vacation.
Best Overall, Runner-Up: Boscia Fruit Acid Smoothing Foot Peel With Plant-Based Alcohol
Similar to the Baby Foot peel, this is another fan favorite, which rings in at a slightly more affordable price. It relies on a combo of alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic and lactic), plus fruit-based enzymes to do some major exfoliating. FYI, to reap the full benefits, you have to leave the pre-filled plastic booties on for the full 90 minutes. Expect shedding eight to 10 days later.
What Our Editors Say
"Nothing leaves my feet softer than a combination of Boscia's Fruit Acid Foot Peel and the brand's Body Serum. Calluses and rough patches are completely disintegrated, and the process is exactly as satisfying as you want it to be.” —Holly Rhue, Editor
Best Cream: PurSources PurOrganica Urea 40% Foot Cream + Pumice Stone
If you want to get the same type of effects as a peel but don’t have time to sit around doing one, try making your own: Slather on a thick layer of this exfoliating cream at bedtime and pop on a pair of thick cotton socks. Leave on overnight and repeat as needed to score super smooth soles while you snooze. The star of the show? Urea, a top ingredient recommended by derms for reducing dry, scaly skin, particularly on your feet.
Best Cream, Runner-Up: Biopelle Exfoliating Heel Cream
Another great cream, this one packs a major punch, thanks to a whopping 30% concentration of glycolic acid. To that point, it’s meant to be left on for only 15 to 30 minutes before being rinsed off (though keep reading to see what our testers say about that). And while it is pricey, a tiny bit goes a very long way.
What Our Editors Say
“I was plagued with the worst calluses on my feet for several years, which stemmed from a mix of improper footwear and not enough love given to my poor feet. I'd tried pumice stones, viral fruit acid peels, and regular pedicures, but nothing would bring them back to life. That is until I tried Biopelle's Exfoliating Heel Cream. You're supposed to leave it on for 15 minutes and rinse it off, but I actually apply it at night before putting on socks, and let me tell you, I woke up to the softest feet that were practically callus-free. I was shocked. It's now my secret weapon against rough heels." —Lindsey Metrus, Editorial Project Director
Best Fast-Acting: Kerasal Intensive Foot Repair
Urea is a natural-occurring by-product of protein metabolism in our livers; synthetic urea is manufactured for skincare use. In addition to urea’s humectant properties, which attract moisture from vapors in the air and retain it into or under the surface of the skin, urea is also keratolytic, which means it breaks down keratin, making it a choice ingredient for softening rough skin.
All of these foot peels legitimately work, but you’re going to have to be patient, given that it takes at least five or so days for the peeling to kick in with most of them. If time isn’t on your side, try this leave-on. Apply a thick layer overnight; a 5% concentration of salicylic acid coupled with 10% urea works on all the dead skin, while petrolatum seals in those benefits. You’ll see noticeable results come morning, though you can repeat as often or whenever needed.
Best Splurge: Patchology PoshPeel Pedi Cure
Sure, this peel is a little pricier than the rest, but we think it’s worth it because it’s very customizable. You get to choose how much of the ‘activating essence’ to pour into the mask socks (which, while still disposable, are a bit sturdier than many others), depending on how much exfoliating action you want. “This product packs a punch with a wide array of ingredients including AHAs and BHAs such as glycolic, salicylic, lactic, and citric acids,” says Gonzalez. Also nice: The progressive treatment works over a period of three to seven days on average, faster than others, and leaves most pedicure polish intact, she adds.
Best Natural: Earth Therapeutics Soft & Smooth Gentle Peeling Foot Mask
Along with a blend of alpha-hydroxy acids (they’re the ones that do the sloughing), this peel, another favorite of Gonzalez’s, is also packed with a long list of certified organic ingredients, including tea tree oil. Among other things, tea tree oil has both antibacterial, antifungal, and deodorizing properties, all good things when feet are involved. The formula is also free of mineral oil and parabens.
Best K-Beauty: TonyMoly Shiny Foot Super Peeling Liquid
Often considered to work equally well as Baby Foot, but at nearly half the price, this is another pick that packs some heavy-duty peeling action. Credit salicylic and glycolic acids, though we like that this formula also boasts soothing lavender, hydrating argan oil, and refreshing peppermint extract.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Barefoot Scientist Reboot
Wear these plastic booties once, for up to 90 minutes, and give it a solid week for the full exfoliating process to kick in. Alpha-hydroxy acids do the heavy lifting, but this also boasts hydrating ingredients to add back needed moisture. Plus, the formula is also cruelty-free and vegan.
Best Variety: Grace & Stella Dr. Pedicure Foot Peeling Mask
If you’re looking to make a foot peel a part of a full-on self-care Sunday, reach for this choice. It has the nice benefit of coming in a variety of scents, including coconut, peach, lavender, and rose, making the process feel that much more luxurious. Still, the heavy-hitting formula is nothing to scoff at, packed with glycolic acid that will have all the dead skin sloughing off in a few weeks. Not to mention that it’s also one of the few foot peels out there that comes in an extra-large version that fits up to a men’s shoe size 16, great if you want to turn DIY foot peels into a date night with your guy.
Best Mask: Aveeno Repairing CICA Foot Mask
Because this is a mask, you’re not going to get any type of heavy-duty, awe-inspiring skin shedding after the fact. That being said, it’s still an undoubtedly great way to add lots of moisture to dry heels stat, not to mention to reach for in between peel sessions. The single-use mask is chock full of deeply hydrating shea butter and skin-soothing oat extract, great if your skin is feeling a little irritated. We’d be remiss not to mention the wallet-friendly price, too.
Best Tool: Rikans Foot File and Callus Remover
For those who prefer manual exfoliation, this handy tool is a great swap for a leave-on chemical peel. A HUGE Amazon crowd-favorite, it repeatedly garners glowing reviews as users rave about the transformative power. One Byrdie editor even calls it “life-changing.” Just go slow when first starting with this cheese grater-esque tool, using gentle pressure, and on wet skin rather than dry—after all, you want your heels to be soft and smooth, not red and raw.
Foot peels offer an easy (and ultimately, very satisfying) way to get super smooth skin. There’s a good reason why the Baby Foot Original Exfoliation Foot Peel (view at Amazon) gets all the buzz. It's a cult classic that really does deliver on its claims of causing tons of shedding and resulting in silky soft heels. The Fruit Acid Smoothing Foot Peel With Plant-Based Alcohol (view at Dermstore) is another top choice, relying on AHAs and fruit enzymes. You can also create your own peel by slathering on an exfoliating cream, like the PurSources PurOrganica Urea 40% Foot Cream + Pumice Stone (view at Amazon) or the Biopelle Exfoliating Heel Cream (view at Dermstore), and popping on socks. And if your heels aren’t super cracked and just need some more moisture, try the hydrating, wallet-friendly Aveeno Repairing CICA Foot Mask (view at Ulta).
What to Look for in a Foot Peel
Alpha Hydroxy Acids and/or Fruit Enzymes
If your feet are really in bad shape, seek out AHAs and/or fruit enzymes ingredients, the ones that will give you that dramatic, shedding effect, says Gonzalez. (Though keep in mind that the shedding process can go on for at least a week.)
Moisturizing Butters and Oils
On the flip side, if your heels are just a little dry or flaky, Gonzalez suggests looking for foot masks that will repair and soften the skin without necessarily causing that level of intense exfoliation.
Are foot peels safe?
According to Gonzalez, foot peels are safe for most people. But a few caveats: “Don’t use any kind of foot peels with acids if you have an open sore on your foot or even a small abrasion. The acid from the peel will get into the crack and be quite painful, and you might also increase your risk of developing an infection,” cautions Gonzalez. You also shouldn’t use these if you’re diabetic or pregnant, unless you clear it with your doctor, she adds.
Can you use a foot peel on your face?
That’s a very hard n-o. Full stop. “The skin on the bottom of the foot is thicker than the skin on the face. Depending on what product you are using for a foot peel, it could be much too strong for your face,” says Gonzalez.
Can you use a foot peel on your hands?
Also no. While the skin on your hands may not be as delicate as the skin on your face, it’s still different than the skin on your feet. Foot peels are for feet, and that’s that.
How often should you use a foot peel?
“It takes a few days for the feet to start peeling and for new skin to become apparent,” says Gonzalez. “Once a month should be the maximum for usage, and many people find they can go longer depending on their rate of cell turnover and how calloused or dry their feet typically get,” she says.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Although she’s all about regular salon pedicures, few things in life bring her as much satisfaction as the shedding that occurs after a foot peel; it’s one of her favorite at-home beauty treatments.
Meet the Expert
Dr. Annie Gonzalez is a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami, FL. Her specialties include both adult and pediatric dermatology and chronic skin conditions.