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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. File 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 binge sesh.
Either way, these are hands down—erm, or should we say feet down— the best foot peels to try.
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 17 different natural extracts to deliver some serious sloughing action. 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.
If your feet aren’t in that bad of shape, or you’re just curious to take a less-expensive option for a test run, this is a great pick. Admittedly, it might not be quite as intense as some of the pricier products, but it does still pack glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids. And it doesn’t hurt that they come in a super cute leopard print. We can see the, “hey all you cool cats and kittens,” Insta post now…
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 bit sturdier than many others), depending on how much exfoliating action you want. A blend of glycolic, salicylic, lactic, and citric acids goes town to dissolve dry skin. Also nice: Results can start to be seen in as little as three days, much quicker than with many others.
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 a 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 work 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.
Along with a blend of alpha-hydroxy acids (they’re the ones that do the sloughing), this peel is also packed with a long list of certified organic ingredients, including tea tree oil. Among other things, tea tree has both antibacterial, antifungal, and deodorizing properties, all good things when feet are involved. The formula is also free of mineral oil and parabens.
Mineral oil is a colorless and odorless petrolatum derivative; when used in cosmetics, it's highly refined and purified and therefore does not contain the contaminants that unrefined petroleum has been known for. Because it sits on top of the skin, it's quite comedogenic (pore-clogging).
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.
To really score some bang for your buck (or if you want to make it a thing and do a foot peel with your BFF or significant other), pick up this peel, another top-seller. It comes in a pack of five, ringing in at just a few bucks each. And if you don’t want to share? You have plenty on hand to keep your feet in sandal-ready all year round.
Soak your feet in warm water 48 hours after using the peel to maximize the results.
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.
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 hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, and vegan.
For those who prefer more of 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 out 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.
As any runner will tell you, built-up calluses and thickened heels are a very real side effect of regularly logging miles. You have to be careful, though, since you don’t want to completely eliminate all of that thickened skin and risk ending up with painful blisters. That’s where this slougher comes in handy. Bits of pumice (volcanic rock) buff away just enough skin, while the added peppermint oil makes it feel cooling and refreshing, perfect for some post-run pampering.