8 Easy Ways to Keep Your Feet Soft and Smooth This Winter
Your feet probably spend much of the winter stuffed into heavy boots or fending off cold, dry air outside and overheated air inside. The result: dry, cracked heels and itchy, peeling skin. But when you know how to properly clean, moisturize, exfoliate and protect your feet, they'll stay comfy—and beautiful—all season long.
1. Clean and moisturize. Wash feet with non-foaming hydrating cleanser (typically in a cream or milk form), to keep foot skin from drying further.
2. Moisturize when wet. Apply moisturizer to still-damp feet after every bath or shower. That's when it for products with petrolatum, glycerin, shea butter, vitamin E or jojoba. These ingredients are very effective at preventing moisture loss.
3. Polish foot skin. Use a pumice stone or metal file once a week to keep feet smooth. An exfoliating scrub probably isn't abrasive enough for the tough skin on feet.
4. Heal your heels. Get rid of unsightly heel cracks with daily use of a mild chemical exfoliant cream that contains lactic acid, urea or glycolic acid to slough off remaining dead skin cells. Some, such as Lac-Hydrin, are available by prescription; some are available at a doctor's office and still others can be purchased over-the-counter. Or, soak your feet for 10 minutes a day in a basin of warm water and a half-cup of bottled lemon juice.
5. Be protective. Skip the wool socks when it's chilly outside. The rubbing of wool against your feet removes natural fats from the skin, causing moisture loss. A better bet: soft cotton socks. In the house, keep slippers or socks on—walking barefoot creates friction that dries feet out.
6. Get shoe-smart. Wear footwear that fits well. Poorly fitting footwear can rub and lead to hard, ugly calluses on your feet. If your favorite boots are chafing, try an over-the-counter insert or see a podiatrist to get a custom-made orthotic.
7. Oil them up. Before bed, rub safflower or grapeseed oil into your feet. These oils have linoleic acid, which prevents evaporation and really helps feet stay moist and healthy.
8. Wrap them. If your feet are really dry, wrap them in plastic wrap at night to help healthy oils penetrate your skin. Or, slather feet with petroleum jelly and top with cotton socks. You'll wake up with softer feet.
About the AuthorCosmetic dermatologist Leslie Baumann, M.D., founder of the University of Miami Cosmetic Medicine & Research Institute, is author of The Skin Type Solution (Bantam, 2010).
From our sister publication, Remedy's Healthy Living Winter 2010