Winter: It’s the perfect time to hibernate, Netflix, and enjoy a variety of sheet masks. But while you’re sitting there, kicking up your heels and watching Clueless (still holds up, still extraordinary), you should treat those heels with a foot mask. Yep, it’s a thing—it’s also incredibly effective, and you’ll love it.
There are plenty of feet masks in this world, but what we’ll specifically be addressing today is the magical world of foot peel masks.
Dead skin cells accumulate due to pressure and friction from everyday activities, like standing, exercising, and wearing very cool, but kind of uncomfortable shoes. For some, the feet can become cracked and painful from the accumulation of dead skin (ouch!). Frequently, foot files—or even specialized foot razors—are used to “remove” the dead skin on your feet. And usually, filing generates more friction to the soles of your feet, which in turn creates more dead skin. So yeah, you can’t win.
This is where foot peel masks come in—they exfoliate with acids, instead of aggressive friction.
The foot peel mask process usually involves plastic “socks” (basically plastic bags) that are slipped onto your feet. You then pour the activating liquid (usually a mix of exfoliating acids) into the socks, and let your feet “marinate.” You then sit there for an hour or so (as specified on the packaging), after which you rinse.
This is where the peel part comes into play: In a process that usually lasts between three to 14 days, dead skin cells begin to slough off. And boy, do they slough—so much so, you might fear you’ve contracted some type of skin-eating bacteria infection on your feet that’s feasting its way through your dry skin (but in a really great, painless way). And there’s no scrubbing needed: When the peeling is done, your foot is “reborn” into healthy, soft skin.
The potential two-week exfoliation process and sloughing of a lot of dead skin cells is exactly the reason this treatment is perfect for winter—you’re already hiding those toes in socks all day long. If you divulged in this process come spring or summer, you’d be stuck in tennis shoes for weeks on end, instead of showing off those newly polished feet.
Although each brand is different in terms of recommending how often you can deeply exfoliate with these peels, a good rule of thumb is maybe once or twice a year—anything more would perhaps exfoliate skin too deeply.
Intrigued? Interested? Considering it? Totally weirded out? We’ve rounded up our favorite peel options, and they’re all a little bit different and unique.
Patchology PoshPeel Pedi Cure, $20
The brand is known for their lip and eye masks, but they have also branched out into feet. This mask is super effective, thanks to a mix of glycolic, salicylic, lactic, and citric acids (that’s a whole lot of acid!). That whole gang blends together and penetrates deeply to remove dead skin cells and hydrate. The brand says full exfoliation will happen between three and seven days.
Boscia Baby Soft Foot Peel, $20
The brand that brought you epic charcoal exfoliating products has now introduced this deep exfoliation peel that focuses on a strong dose of alpha-hydroxy acids. Boscia says it could take up to two weeks to finish exfoliating.
Holika Holika Baby Silky Foot One Shot Peeling Sheet Mask, $13.50
Thanks to a heavy dose of alpha-hydroxy acids (and 16 different plant extracts), this Korean beauty export has a big fan club. Holika Holika says the peeling process takes about a week to go into full effect, and about two weeks to complete.
Baby Foot Original Exfoliant Foot Peel, $25
The OG of foot peels is still one of the most popular versions on the market, with a specialized fruit acid and unspecified “natural extracts” mix doing the dirty work. Fruit acid is unique as it’s technically much gentler than other acid versions, which is why this peel works over a longer period of time. But don’t be discouraged: It’s still super effective. Baby Foot says exfoliation should begin in three to seven days, but could take up to two weeks to complete.
Karuna Exfoliating Foot Mask, $10.50
A specialized mix of hyaluronic, glycolic, and lactic acids, peptides and vitamins combine to replenish and hydrate feet. This version is perfect for those who are a little afraid of the guaranteed sloughing that occurs with the other peel masks. Some exfoliation might occur, but this version won’t have as extreme of a process—and it also won’t have as extreme results, either. If you desire a more intense treatment, you can wear the mask longer—cover the mask with socks and wear it overnight to deeply condition rough feet.
Have you tried a foot peel mask before? Loved it? Hated it? Weirded out? Tell us everything in the comments.
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