3 Fail-Proof Routes To The Softest, Prettiest Feet Of Your Life

There is plenty of sound advice out there to take regarding the best balms to treat chapped winter lips or how to alter your beauty routine to prevent flakiness when it's frigid, but not too many of us get into the nitty-gritty of what to do for our feet. Because let's be real, what's happening under our socks right now is not pretty.

Calluses, dry, cracked skin, too long toenails, and dull, chipped polish — it's all happening. But it doesn't have to be that way. After a few too many snagged tights, I set out on a quest to find the best callus removers to make cuddling up during a Netflix-and-chill snowstorm-edition session a snag-free, scrape-free zone. On my journey to smoother, softer, prettier winter feet, I soaked, I scrubbed, and I wore some socks to bed. I chemically exfoliated, electronically filed, and callus-treated at the salon. Here's what I learned.

If you need soft feet in a pinch...try the Amopé Pedi Perfect Wet & Dry Electronic Foot File.
I like to think of the Amopé Pedi Perfect foot file as the sophisticated, diamond-wearing older cousin of all the archaic tools I was previously using to control calluses, which ran the gamut from large foot files to questionable shower pumices to dangerous metal graters (leave those for cheese, y’all). This device, which can be used on dry feet or in wet environments like the bath or shower, promises soft feet within minutes and safely.

It was almost harder to remove the Amopé Pedi Perfect from the plastic packaging than it was to remove my calluses (you're definitely going to need scissors for this), but once the device was out, and charged up, I was blasting dry skin off my foot like a professional. Before I got started, however, I did take a look at the extensive instructions printed on the inside of the box that warn against overuse in particular areas (don't use it on any one section for more than three seconds) and a warning that while the actual tool is waterproof, none of the charging utilities are.

The device itself is sleek, provides a comfortable rubber grip that fits well in the hand, and features a rechargeable battery, which means it's cordless — a big plus. My most callused areas are on the neck of my big toe (yep, that's what the area behind your big toe is called) and on the fatty pad of the big-toe mound, so naturally these were the spots on which I first used the file. The amount of dust that was rolling off my feet was oddly satisfying, but messy, so do it on paper towels or in the tub.

All in all, this is a great tool to soften things up quickly — just remember to seal in the results with a heavy-duty moisturizer afterward. The results surpass those of bodybuilder strength paired with the grooves of a pumice stone, so I'm in.

If you’re seeking professional assistance...try an in-salon callus-remover gel.
The pedicure bowls attached to the massage chairs in your neighborhood salon likely aren't the most hygienic, which is why I'm into dry pedicures lately. Naomi Kng, owner of The Gel Bar in New York City, only offers dry pedicures in her salon. “It doesn’t matter how much you sterilize the soaking tub used for traditional wet pedicures; all of the bacteria is never really cleaned there is always some skin or residue left in the pumps,” says Kng.

The salon’s $35 dry pedicure starts with an exfoliating mousse on the leg, which is then coated with a hot layer of paraffin wax. The bottoms of the feet are then wrapped with a callus remover that softens hard skin, so it can be filed off easily, and the rest is standard pedicure procedure.

Kng makes it a point to remind customers that callus removal is not just about getting the hard skin away, but also about doing it in the most sanitary way. “I think right now the gel solution we are using is the most effective way to remove calluses,” says Kng. “In the past, there were razors, just a regular pumice stone, which harvests a lot of bacteria because there is no way to properly sterilize a pumice, and a regular file is never coarse enough to remove everything. Here, we use a metal file that you can stick in the autoclave and sterilize. There is no germ that is going to withstand 450 F.”

Prior to this summer, I was the type to typically opt out of in-salon callus removers, but after a particularly rough season of sandals on NYC asphalt, my pedicurist all but demanded it. I allowed her to soak my feet in the saran-wrapped gel for 10 minutes and then she went to town. I was slightly mortified at her mumblings (“Wow! So much!”), but that moment made me realize I needed to take my pedicures more seriously.

If you have time and a high gross-out tolerance...try the Baby Foot Peel.
Baby Foot sounds nice and gentle, but one quick Google search tells — and shows — otherwise. What if I did something wrong and too many layers of skin came off, making my feet way too soft and infant-like to walk the NYC streets? I wondered. I was nervous about this one, despite seeing it all over the internet, so I enlisted a friend to test it out alongside me. "On a scale of 1 to 10, how willing are you to try something new?" I texted a guy friend. “9,” he responded, so I framed this as a cool science experiment I needed him to surrender his feet for and off we went. (I also just like seeing men squirm while getting beauty treatments.)

For starters, you're going to want to set aside at least a one-hour time period during which you can stay put and marinate your feet in the gel-filled plastic booties. And unlike me, you're going to also want to read the directions carefully: Wash your feet with soap and water, and soak them for 15 minutes (I neglected this step), then slip into the booties and tape 'em tight around your ankles. Then wait. And wait. And wait some more.

After an hour, my friend and I washed the gel off our feet. I experienced some tightness and general discomfort as the skin on my feet dried up and got ready for the big peel. By day two, the dryness was more intense and tight. Even though the instructions suggest you refrain from moisturizing your feet during the entire Baby Foot period, I was really temped to reach for the lotion.

Five days in, my friend and I began sending “Anything happening to your feet?” texts. Nothing. A deep dive into the comments section of Amazon let me know that I really should have soaked my feet in warm water before applying the booties. In the end, the peeling was much more minimal than it should have been (my bad), and in a pinch before breaking for a holiday beach vacation, I ended up reaching back for the Amopé Pedi tool to help make my feet look a little more presentable.

Baby Foot is a process you have to be committed to for at least a weeklong period. The time commitment — from wearing the boots, soaking your feet, and resisting the urge to peel the large chunks of skin that fall off — is more than I'm usually willing to give to any routine, but the end effect was worth the wait and delivered perfectly soft, almost tender feet. While I didn’t get the joy of extreme snake-like skin shedding this go-round, I am willing to try again — especially considering how right the price point is at $20.