For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve had an issue with dry, cracked heels. (I’m pretty sure I inherited them from my mom!) Because of this, I’ve always tried to be meticulous about a good foot-care routine. But a few years ago, I realized I was going about it all wrong.
The remedy for cracked heels used to be all about constantly trying to remove dry skin. I used to use something called a Credo blade, which I think is actually illegal in most states now (yikes!). It was literally a giant blade I would use to shave off my calluses and I would remove way too much skin and my feet got so sensitive it was hard to walk sometimes! Needless to say, it didn’t lead to the best results.
Thankfully, I’ve come a long way and have figured out how to keep my heels smooth and soft, all year round. Keep reading to learn my two main remedies for cracked heels plus a few more tips to keep your feet looking their best!
My Two Simple Tricks for Healing and Preventing Cracked Heels
I was getting a pedicure a few years back and offhandedly mentioned that my heels had been cracking so much lately, despite the fact that I had been regularly buffing them. “You should try wearing socks as often as you can,” the pedicurist replied. “It helps your feet hold on to moisture.”
Of course, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Feet don’t really have oil glands the way the skin on the rest of the body does, so it’s very difficult for them to hold moisture on their own. Wearing socks is kind of a similar concept to using a facial oil—you’re creating a barrier that allows a moist environment to exist underneath by making it harder for water to escape.
First, I started wearing socks around the house as often as possible, and I definitely noticed a difference. Pro tip? Be sure to wear socks as much as you can during summer as well as winter. People usually associate dry, cracked heels with winter, which can definitely be the case, but I’ve found it’s actually worse for me in summer because I’m always barefoot or in sandals. Now I always wear socks when I’m not out and about. (I actually prefer men’s socks because they’re thicker and roomier, I just find them more comfortable.)
So, wearing socks helped, but because my heels had already been so dry and cracked to begin with, I needed to step it up a notch to actually repair them. I started slathering Aquaphor ointment before bed and sleeping in socks at least four nights a week. After six weeks, I was shocked at how much my feet were transformed. I now do this twice a week for maintenance and honestly, I barely have to buff my feet anymore because there is very little dead skin. What can I say, sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones!
The Best Way to Remove Dry Skin From Your Feet
While keeping your feet consistently moisturized is arguably the most important aspect of a foot care routine, you still want to make sure you’re exfoliating once in a while to remove dry skin. After all, if you keep trying to moisturize dry, expired cells, you won’t get very far.
Since the skin on the heels is so thick, I’ve found that scrubs really aren’t anywhere near strong enough. I do believe physical exfoliation (manually removing dead skin) is the best way to go, but it needs to be more of a buffing or sanding motion done with a tool. Personally, I like this traditional callus remover because it works well and is the one they use on me during pedicures. If you want something more gentle, this foot file gently rolls over the skin to buff off calluses. Either way, be sure to remove the skin after it’s been softened by a shower, bath, or foot soak.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of exfoliating acids on the feet simply because they have to be very strong in order to work. I have tried acid products like Baby Foot, but I never found they made much of a difference when it came to my heels. That said, I know some people swear by it so if you’re interested, it’s worth a shot!
Try an Exfoliating Acid On Your Cuticles
I do love using an exfoliating acid, like my Smoothing Body Serum, on my cuticles once in a while. I apply a little on my toes then add moisturizer, and it keeps them looking fresh. It also prevents me from having to use cuticle nippers, which can leave your cuticle looking a little messy by causing ragged edges.
Take a Break From Polish
My toenails are painted pretty much all summer long, so come winter I like to give them a bit of a break. By this point, my nails are pretty dry and have a bit of a white-ish tint to them. In addition to giving them a break from polish, I like to revitalize them by extending my Aquaphor onto the nails and massaging it in a little bit. I’ll top it off with an oil for extra nourishment (I like to use my own since it has a blend of 12 oils rich in vitamins and omega fatty acids that are perfect for replenishing brittle nails).
So there you have it, my straightforward guide to soft, smooth heels and feet! This is a great time of year to get a head start and have your feet in great condition once sandal season rolls around again.
Next, learn how to protect your hands from four main signs of aging.
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”