While an in-salon pedicure is a great way to remove dead skin from feet, there are plenty of at-home alternatives that work well, too—from pro-level foot files to exfoliating scrubs.
And with sandal season almost upon us, a foot MOT is a sensible idea before getting onto the fun stuff like pretty pedicure ideas. “The skin on our feet is subjected to unique stresses compared with the skin on the rest of our body,” says Dr Sophie Shotter, aesthetic doctor. “Because we wear footwear for the majority of our time, our feet often experience repeated friction,” continues Shotter. This repeated friction can lead to hard skin, calluses or corns. Other factors, like ill-fitting shoes or running on pavements, can also add to this pressure.
“As hard skin accumulates, particularly on our heels, a thick waxy layer develops,” says Shotter, “this layer lacks the flexibility of living skin and so with time, it can begin to crack.” To help prevent cracking and other key foot problems, look to our edit of the best products to remove dead skin from feet, as well as expert top tips and tricks.
How to remove dead skin from feet step by step
Podiatrist Margaret Dabbs is the beauty industry’s ultimate foot guru and her signature Medical Pedicure is a total game-changer. If you can’t make it to the salon, a home pedicure is also very effective, starting with Margaret’s step-by-step guide on removing hard skin from your feet:
Step 1: Use a foot file
“All the foot cream in the world won’t work if you leave the hard, dry skin in place,” says Dabbs, “so the first step is to use a foot file.” top tip? “Use the foot file before a bath or shower, when the skin is dry,” says Dabbs. This is so you can see the dry areas that would otherwise be masked by water.
There are many foot files on the market, but Dabbs recommends her own. “It really is the Rolls Royce of foot files,” she says. “Not only does it remove all the hard, dead, dry skin easily, but it will also leave the skin even and smooth to the touch. You can use it to safely take off corns and hard skin from your toes including the ridge of skin that builds up under the little toe.”
Step 2: Soak your feet
For a spa-like pampering routine at home, “regularly soak your feet in warm water to soften the skin,” says Shotter. We recommend doing this after foot filing, before applying moisturizer. Soaking will clean the skin while reducing inflammation and boosting circulation. You can also use a physical scrub at this step to help slough away the build-up that’s left behind from filing your feet, many of the best body exfoliators can also be used on the feet.
Step 3: Treat the skin
“Carefully dry the feet, including in-between the toes, and finish with a foot lotion,” advises Dabbs. “This will help relieve and repair dry, cracked heels as well as itchy, inflamed skin.” Taking no longer than 15-20 minutes, this will leave you with baby soft skin and feet that feel brand new.
Got time to spare? Max out your at-home pedicure with a slick of nail polish. Go for bold brights like yellow and turquoise, or keep it classic with the perfect summer nail colors like hot pink and coral. To keep your feet in tip-top condition, Dabbs advises using a foot lotion every day to prevent new hard skin from building up. “Once or twice a week, use the foot file and foot scrub.” Sandals—we’re coming for you!
The best products to remove dead skin from your feet, chosen by our beauty editor
woman&home thanks Dr Sophie Shotter and Margaret Dabbs for their time and expertise.