In a world where people pay money to put their feet in what's essentially a small-scale aquarium to let hundreds of little garra rufa fish chew off their dead skin, clearly all bets are off when it comes to getting smooth, silky feet. But if you're not down for the aquatic foot facial (we don't blame you, and not only because it's considered both unsanitary and inhumane), there's a much easier way to get your toes to touchable, soft, and callus-free condition, without stepping into a salon or painfully pumice-stoning your bunions into submission.
An at-home foot mask is your DIY answer to sandal-ready feet. As dermatologists Susan Bard, MD, and Monique Chheda, MD, tell us, foot masks serve as a quick, over-the-counter alternative to an in-salon pedicure treatment — and are often more effective because most are very gentle on the skin (and marine life). From medicated socks to soft creams and gels, the pros are breaking down the best foot masks on the market, so you can shed your dry foot skin and soften your calluses without ever setting foot in a fish tank.
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"If you don't want something that causes dramatic exfoliation, then you can opt for creams that are applied daily to improve dry and callused foot skin over time," says Dr. Chheda, adding that she recommends the Glytone Ultra Softening Heel and Elbow Cream to her patients with general dry-skin concerns.
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For a more wallet-friendly option, Dr. Chheda recommends this gel because it's specifically formulated to heal and soothe thick calluses and cracked heels using gentle skin-softening ingredients, such as tea tree oil and aloe vera.
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"Active ingredients such as lactic acid, glycolic acid, and several fruit extracts cause a pretty dramatic exfoliation with Baby Foot Peel," Dr. Chheda explains. "It works best after soaking your feet for 15 to 20 minutes, and then applying the medicated booties according to the instructions. Within 4-7 days, the skin on the feet begins to peel and will continue to shed over the course of two weeks — almost like a snake. Ultimately, it results in skin that is much softer and smoother."
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According to Dr. Bard, these sock masks are moisturizing, have a soothing scent, and are super fun to use — not to mention just $5, which is always a plus.
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Next time you're browsing through Anthropologie's beauty section, look for this $10 exfoliating foot mask by the Korean skin-care brand Kocostar. It's formulated with 33 easy-to-pronounce natural botanical essences and oils, sans phthalates and parabens, so you know you're not dealing with any harsh chemicals.