Cracked heels, calluses, dry and peeling skin, and overgrown cuticles make for some pretty gnarly-looking feet. What’s the best way to get the dead skin off and exfoliate them? Should you use a scrub, a mask, a pumice stone, a rasp, or a pair of scissors?
Although we can’t recommend cutting off calluses, there are other ways to quickly remove hardened skin. A nice long soak in warm water followed by a scrub or some work with a rasp or pumice will shed dead layers. A foot peeling mask like Baby Foot is another popular option that requires less effort, but results won’t be visible for a few days. All of these methods might take as long as an hour to complete.
Hmm, it seems like a lot of work for a busy person. Happily, there is an easier way!
It’s just like putting on moisturizer, so it only takes a few moments. Plus, it’s safe for people with sensitive skin or diabetes. (They should not use aggressive exfoliation methods like a scrub, a stone, or rasp) (1).
You guessed it – it’s foot cream. But it’s not just any old lotion. These are special formulas with different kinds of chemical exfoliators. The ingredients make the dead skin shed while fixing dry feet so they feel smooth and comfortable.
Lucky for you, there are several excellent choices that use different kinds of exfoliators. Here’s a brief explanation to help you choose the best foot exfoliator creams for your needs.
How to pick the best exfoliating cream for your feet
There are three common exfoliators used in a foot cream. Each one has different benefits for different skin types and situations.
Let’s begin with salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid used to treat acne and remove warts. You might also find it in clarifying shampoos and body washes that treat keratosis pilaris (KP, or chicken skin).
Salicylic acid disrupts the connections between dead skin cells so that they slough off. For that reason, it’s called a peeling agent (2).
On the downside, salicylic acid is related to aspirin, so avoid it if you have an aspirin allergy. Also, it might not be the best choice if you have naturally dry skin.
Next, there are alpha-hydroxy acids like glycolic and lactic acids. These are outstanding exfoliators for dry skin. They break down the dead skin bonds to make it shed faster, but they help the skin retain moisture.
The only con is that repeated use of alpha-hydroxy acids can make the skin more sensitive to sunburn (3).
Lastly, many foot creams contain urea. At a 20% concentration or less, it acts as a humectant to rehydrate dry skin, but it doesn’t do much exfoliation. Instead, you’ll need a foot cream with something like 40% urea in order to break down dead skin and smooth calluses.
Sadly, a high concentration of urea may also soften nails (4).
Don’t let your doubts get you down. All the information you need is in the foot exfoliator cream reviews below.
|The best foot exfoliator creams||Why we love them|
|O'Keeffe's Healthy Feet Exfoliating Foot Cream||
|Kerasal Intensive Foot Repair||
|Gold Bond Ultimate Pedi Smooth Foot Cream||
|Ebanel Urea Cream 40% Plus Salicylic Acid||
|Dr. Scholl's Cracked Heel Repair Balm||
|CeraVe Moisturizing Cream with Salicylic Acid||
|Barefoot scientist the 3-step fresh skin system PEEL + REVEAL||
Best Foot Exfoliator Creams in 2023
O’Keeffe’s Healthy Feet Exfoliating Foot Cream
Diabetics: pause here. This hypoallergenic foot cream is approved for persons with diabetes and others with sensitive skin. It was developed by a pharmacist who wanted to help her diabetic father with his chronically dry skin.
The gentle formula features lactic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid that restores moisture while removing dead skin. It also has shea butter to seal in hydration and a touch of peppermint to refresh your feet.
The cream continues to soften and relieve cracked feet for up to forty-eight hours after it’s applied. Still, the results are better if it’s used daily. Put it on after washing then put your feet up and relax.
Reviewers love it because it’s creamy like a body butter but not greasy. Plus, it has a delightful fragrance and provides miraculous results overnight.
- Hypoallergenic exfoliating foot cream
- Safe for diabetics and sensitive skin
- Features lactic acid, shea butter, and peppermint
- Relieves dryness for up to forty-eight hours
- Delightful fragrance and creamy texture, but non-greasy
- Results overnight
- Don’t make the mistake of rubbing your eyes if you haven’t washed the cream off your hands or let it absorb – it stings a bit
Kerasal Intensive Foot Repair
This little tube of ointment is approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association for fixing cracked, dry feet. The simple formula uses both salicylic acid and urea to soften and exfoliate the skin while white petrolatum locks in the moisture and helps smooth the feet.
Apply it before bed and don a pair of socks to keep it off your sheets. It takes quite a while to absorb just like Vaseline. However, using it nightly will provide you with spectacular results within a few days to a few weeks (depending on the severity of your situation).
- Paraben-free formula uses salicylic acid and urea to exfoliate and moisturize
- Just a little goes a long way
- Noticeable improvement overnight
- Approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association
- Greasy and takes a long time to absorb
Gold Bond Ultimate Pedi Smooth Foot Cream
Gold Bond’s foot cream blends urea with salicylic and glycolic acids for maximum exfoliation. It’ll make your feet feel like you just had a pedicure, especially since it has a fresh fragrance reminiscent of the spa.
Alongside the exfoliators, it has intense moisturizers like shea butter, petrolatum, and cocoa seed butter to seal in the hydration. Plus, it nourishes the skin with fruit extracts, tea leaf, and vitamins.
Fortunately, unlike some foot creams (looking at you Am Lactin), this one is paraben-free. If you live in flip-flops or sandals, this is the perfect solution for cracked heels and calluses. One reviewer said that it even brightened up her ankle tattoo.
- Like a pedicure in a tube
- Blend of urea, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid
- Helps remove dead skin and rehydrate dry feet
- Smooths and heals with vitamins, fruit extracts, and plant butters
- Fresh fragrance
- None, but those with sensitive skin should check the label or do a patch test
Ebanel Urea Cream 40% Plus Salicylic Acid
Remember how we said that you need more than 20% urea to exfoliate the skin? Well, this popular cream takes it to the max. With a 40% concentration, it’s designed to soften thick calluses and repair cracked heels. It also soothes itchy feet.
With a blend of salicylic acid and 40% urea, it works wonders over time. Even though you’ll notice an instant improvement in the smoothness of your feet, keep applying it twice per day for at least two weeks. This gives it time to remove corns and hardened skin. Keep in mind that your skin will begin to flake after a few days, and that’s normal.
What’s more, this isn’t just a foot cream. Feel free to use it to fix rough elbows and kneecaps as well as dry hands and overgrown cuticles.
The hypoallergenic formula is vegan and paraben-free.
- Hypoallergenic, paraben-free, and vegan
- Made with a high concentration of urea and salicylic acid to soften calluses and remove dry skin
- Moisturizing formula soothes itchy skin and smooths rough elbows, knees, and hands
- Takes a while to absorb
- Makes skin flake after a few days
Dr. Scholl’s Cracked Heel Repair Balm
Sometimes we skip putting on foot cream because we don’t want to get our hands greasy. The solution is this tube applicator of foot balm. It’s like putting on lip balm or using a glue stick.
It’s made with a unique blend of alpha-hydroxy acid, urea, Epsom salt, and essential oils to calm irritated skin. The balm fills in cracked skin to give it a layer of protection and make it feel smooth right away. Behind the scenes, it helps slough off dead layers. Plus, the ingredients draw in moisture and promote healing.
It’s not greasy, but rather a little sticky. If you don’t wear socks, wait a couple of minutes before walking around barefoot or putting on shoes.
Reviewers say that it takes a few days of daily applications to make a dramatic difference.
- Stick applicator of foot balm for no-mess application
- Forms a protective layer, locks in moisture
- Exfoliates and moisturizes with alpha hydroxy acid and urea
- Calms irritated skin
- A little sticky until it absorbs
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream with Salicylic Acid
CeraVe makes an exfoliating foot cream, but it’s basically the same as this jar of salicylic acid cream, which is cheaper. Both feature lactic acid and salicylic acid to reduce calluses and reveal fresh skin.
Moreover, the formula has three essential ceramides, which are lipids that make up the skin’s natural barrier. As we age or our skin is damaged, we need more ceramides to help restore it to health and keep it hydrated.
Speaking of hydration, the cream also has hyaluronic acid, one of the world’s best humectants. It attracts and holds a thousand times its weight in water without feeling greasy.
Finally, niacinamide and vitamin D promote healing and soothe irritation.
Use the cream on your elbows, knees, or hands – anywhere you have rough spots. It’s helpful for getting rid of chicken skin, a.k.a. keratosis pilaris, on the backs of arms or legs. Some reviewers have faded age spots and old scars with it, too.
There is a dark side, however. It contains parabens, and it takes quite a few minutes to absorb.
- Exfoliating cream with lactic and salicylic acids
- Contains hyaluronic acid and ceramides to rehydrate dry skin
- Calms irritation with niacinamide
- Can be used to treat other parts of the body with rough spots or KP
- Not paraben-free
Barefoot scientist the 3-step fresh skin system PEEL + REVEAL
Give your feet a spa treatment at home with this complete set including foot peel, tools, and moisturizer. If you’ve got a special event coming up, start a couple of weeks ahead of time.
Begin with the foot peel called Reboot. Apply it after soaking your feet for a few minutes in warm water. A few days later, the calluses will start to peel off. Help things along with the foot rasp and the double-sided pumice stone.
When you’re pleased with your baby soft feet, slather on the High Dive intensive cream and relish the results.
- Intense spa treatment for feet
- Kit includes a foot peel, exfoliation tools, and intensive moisturizer
- Leaves skin baby soft and refreshed
- Takes a few days to work
They say that the best foot exfoliator cream is the one you’ll actually use. But we say a few minutes of forethought will help you find the right foot cream for your needs. We hope these reviews made your decision easier.
Check back soon for in-depth insight into the best skincare products.
1. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-secrets/routine/safely-exfoliate-at-home How To Safely Exfoliate At Home
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4554394/ Arif T. (2015). Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 8, 455–461. https://doi.org/10.2147/CCID.S84765
3. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/alpha-hydroxy-acids Alpha Hydroxy Acids by the US Food & Drug Administration, updated August 24, 2020
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urea-containing_cream Urea-containing cream, updated September 22, 2021