Foot Peels: Pros And Cons

Foot peels can feel like magic, and a little bit weird. You apply the mask and a few days later, your skin begins to shed in swathes. It’s a bit like a snake’s moulting.  

Foot peels are great for treating rough and calloused skin. But are they safe? In this article, we discuss how foot peels work and the pros and cons you need to know before you order a foot peel mask. 

What Are Foot Peels and How Do They Work?

What Are Foot Peels and How Do They Work?

A foot peel is a type of chemical exfoliation. It sheds off the top layer of dead skin on your feet to reveal baby-soft feet underneath. 

A foot peel consists of a mixture of exfoliating acids, usually lactic acid, alpha hydroxy acid and glycolic acid. Most also have several natural extracts thrown in as well such as essential oils. 

A foot peel package consists of a pair of masks that resemble socks. You put them on for the prescribed amount of time (usually between 20 minutes and 2 hours) and then take them off and rinse your feet. 

Over the next few days, the exfoliating acids penetrate deep into your skin. They do two things: they encourage the growth of new skin and they loosen the top layer of dead skin. 

After a few days, you’ll notice the dead skin peeling off your feet. It’s not the prettiest of sights but it is painless. When the dead skin is completely off, you are left with smooth and soft feet.  

Here’s a video that will give you an idea of what to expect after a few days of using a foot peel mask.

Are Foot Peels Safe?

The peeling may look uncomfortable, but it is completely painless for most people. If anything, many people feel satisfied peeling off large swathes of dead skin off their feet. 

Applying the foot peel itself is also painless. Just make sure you follow the instructions. Don’t leave the mask on for too long as it can cause a burning sensation. 

Something else to keep in mind is that you should not use foot peels too often as they can cause increased sensitivity, redness and other symptoms. You should wait at least two months between foot peels. 

Be extra careful if you have sensitive skin or if you have a history of eczema or psoriasis. Using a foot peel can aggravate or trigger these conditions. 

Definitely don’t use a foot peel if you have diabetes. It can make your skin more vulnerable to wounds and infections. If you have diabetic neuropathy, a foot peel could burn or sting you and you won’t realise it. 

Also don’t use a foot peel if you have any open wounds, cuts or injuries on your feet.    

Benefits of Foot Peels

Think of a foot peel as an at-home rejuvenation treatment for your feet. It solves multiple foot problems in one go. Here are the biggest benefits of foot peels. 

  • They soften rough, hard and dry feet. The exfoliating acids strip away the top layer of dry skin and encourage the growth of new softer skin underneath. A foot peel is the fastest and most effective way of getting soft feet. It works a lot faster than a pumice stone and foot creams. 
  • A foot peel is great for cracked heels. As the dry dead skin on top peels away, it leaves smooth crack-free skin underneath. There are plenty of products for dealing with cracked heels, but foot peels are the fastest and most effective. 
  • A foot peel also removes corns and calluses.  
  • Foot peels are easy to apply at home and are generally safe. You don’t need to go to a clinic or specialised equipment. Just apply the foot peel according to the instructions and you are good to go. 
  • A foot peel can change the way you feel about your feet. Going from rough cracked feet to smooth and soft feet is definitely a huge confidence booster. 
  • With the hard skin gone, footcare products like creams and moisturisers become more effective. After a foot peel, regular scrubbing with a pumice stone and some moisturiser are enough to keep your feet looking and feeling great. 

Issues & Limitations of Foot Peels

While foot peels are beneficial for most people, they do have their limitations and disadvantages. 

They Require Some Patience

Foot peels don’t have instant results. Don’t expect to apply it and have brand new feet immediately or even the next day. 

It takes a few days for the peeling to start and can take up to two weeks for your feet to completely peel off. 

To speed up the peeling process, soak your feet for 20-30 minutes before applying the foot peel. This will soften the skin and make it start peeling sooner. Afterwards, soak your feet daily for 20-30 minutes. This softens the dead ski and makes it come off faster. 

Your Feet Will Look Gross, For A While 

While your feet are peeling, they can look quite unsightly. You’ll have patches of peeled and unpeeled skin on your feet. 

If you have plans where you’ll need to take off your shoes in public such as going to the beach or going to a public swimming pool, this is not the best time to start your foot peel. 

To be clear, the peeling process is not painful or uncomfortable. So you can still wear shoes and go to work as usual. But try to avoid any situation where you’ll have to expose your feet. You may also want to stick with closed shoes. 

Also, don’t be overzealous with the peeling. Only pull patches of skin that have already come loose. If you pull on the dead skin too much you could hurt yourself. Let the feet do most of the peeling on their own.  

They Are Not for Everyone

We’ve already mentioned that diabetics and anyone with an open wound should not use a foot peel. Also be careful if you have existing foot problems like psoriasis as a foot peel can make them worse. 

Even if your feet are healthy, there’s a small chance a foot peel might cause a negative reaction. A few people have reported redness, itching and dryness. This could be because they have sensitive feet, they are allergic to something in the foot peel or some other reason. 

If you try a foot peel and start feeling uncomfortable, take it off immediately and rinse your feet. If you experience dryness, redness or some other reaction after using a foot peel, it’s probably a good idea to stay away from them. Check out some alternatives further below. 

They Don’t Solve all Foot Problems

Foot peels can do an amazing transformation on your feet, but don’t expect them to solve all your foot problems

Foot peels usually don’t work on bunions. They may also not help if you have deep and painful cracks on your feet. If anything, they can make the cracks more painful. Remember a foot peel only removes the top layer of the skin. Any problem that penetrates deep into the foot will not be resolved by applying a foot peel. 

Also keep in mind that a foot peel is not a replacement for proper and regular foot care. If you do not exfoliate your feet regularly, moisturise them daily and wear proper footwear, a foot peel is only a temporary solution.  

They Can Make Your Skin More Sensitive 

As the new skin gets exposed, your feet may feel more sensitive than usual. So be extra careful how you handle your feet and what shoes you wear. 

We recommend not scrubbing or exfoliating your feet until all the dead skin has peeled off. Also avoid walking barefoot. Wear soft and snug socks with comfortable closed shoes.  

Foot Peel Alternatives

If you are not comfortable using a foot peel, here are three alternatives. 

1. Homemade Foot Peel

You can make your own exfoliating foot mask at home. The results will not be as dramatic as those of a foot peel, but you’ll still get softer and smoother feet. 

A simple foot peel you can try is a mixture of lemon juice (1 part), vinegar (1 part) and warm water (2 parts). Soak your feet for 10-15 minutes then dry them and apply moisturiser. 

2. Pumice Stone + Moisturiser 

A pumice stone removes dead skin, though much more slowly compared to a foot peel. The secret to getting soft feet with a pumice stone is consistency. 

Lightly scrub your feet with a pumice stone for about 3 minutes daily. This removes the daily build up of dirt and dead skin cells. Then 1-2 times a week, do a more thorough scrub. 

Soak your feet for 20 minutes (add epsom salt for better results), then scrub gently with a pumice stone. Always remember to apply moisturiser afterwards. 

Over time, your feet will become soft and smooth. 

3. Foot Cream/Serum 

Another way to get soft feet is to apply a foot serum or cream. Foot serums typically have the same exfoliating acids found in foot peels. They regenerate new skin while helping to shed off old and dead skin. 

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