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The amount of care we show our feet is often disproportionate to the amount of strain we place on them. Unless we’re clipping our toenails, assessing a blister or giving them a sudsy pass with a loofah in the shower, most guys don’t think about their feet. Perhaps that’s down to the sheer physical awkwardness (hey, sometimes bending over for longer than 10 seconds is a feat), or simply because they’re out of sight—and out of mind—for most of the day.
That’s precisely why having smooth, soft feet feels so rewarding—there’s no shortage of people who scrape by with unattended callouses or rough patches of dry, cracked skin, which can be especially painful in the winter. But when you take care of your hardworking foundations, each step can feel noticeably lighter and more comfortable. Not to mention the process of giving yourself an at-home pedicure can be soothing and meditative, especially after a long day.
The best news is that it won’t drain your wallet to stock up on the best foot care products, and maintaining a routine in order to keep them soft and soothed is relatively easy. Here are the 10 types of products we’d recommend having on hand (or is it on foot?) and our favorite product in each category, too.
If you aren’t doing a regular full-body salt soak in the bathtub, then at least give your feet the satisfaction of a salt soak. It will calm and soothe the muscles and skin alike, thanks to the rejuvenating powers of Epsom and mineral sea salts. Some products, like Amayori’s onsen-style soak, even come infused with equally calming essential oils.
A weekly foot scrub is another great way to keep your feet feeling good. Anything with grit will lift away the outermost layer of dead skin—and on the feet, that can be a lot of skin. Be sure to buff around the ankles and heels and between the toes. A scrub won’t be your best defense against existing calluses, but it can help maintain smoothness, much like a nightly foot cream. (Another benefit: foot creams are better able to do their jobs after a good scrubbing.) Also, many body scrubs, like this one from Brooklyn Botany, work perfectly fine as foot scrubs, so consider it two for the price of one.
Hydrating Foot Cream
Think of this as the daily (more specifically, nightly) application. It can be a little awkward to apply foot lotion and then to proceed with walking around the house barefoot, so we’d suggest doing it right before bed or right after the shower, and afterward put on a pair of socks. A morning shower can rinse away any residue so that you don’t feel like you’re soaking your feet in cream all day. If you are prone to odor or infection, you can also get a cream with tea tree oil to help neutralize the microbes.
Softening and Exfoliating Foot Cream
While a standard-fare foot cream will help maintain softness and smoothness, it’s good to have a second one with exfoliating ingredients like urea and lactic acid. This helps break down any rough patches, and primarily any calluses and cracks. Think of a standard foot cream as basic maintenance, and this one as prescriptive—for when they aren’t yet smooth, but you want them to be.
Peppermint and Tea Tree Oil
These two essential oils are the best to add to your foot care regimen, whether they’re within a product formula or you add them individually yourself. A couple of drops of peppermint oil, blended into your hydrating lotion, will calm and soothe tired, stressed feet, while leaving them with a tingly freshness. (Seriously, try it after a scrub. It’s the best sensation.) Tea tree oil, on the other hand, is antimicrobial and will neutralize anything you can’t see before it can proliferate and compromise your foot health. (Peppermint oil also has antimicrobial properties, but it’s best to keep them in their respective lanes.)
If you need a full factory reset—you’ve got the cracked heels, the years-old callouses and your feet could sand your own wood floors—then you might consider doing a peel. An hourlong soak in the peeling serum will give your feet a tingling sensation. Then, days (or up to a week) later, the dead skin will steadily start to shed. It can get gnarly for a few days there, so we advise doing a physical scrub in the shower and always wearing socks until the feet have properly molted. Essentially, it’s just forcing the dead-est, outermost layers to lift away, including the entirety of calluses. Some people do a peel every few months just to keep things truly smoothed down—the frequency is up to you. It’s painless but it can become annoying on the fourth or fifth day of actual peeling. (But it won’t stop you from working out or doing any other activities. It’s just a bunch of dead skin lifting away.)
Instead of cheese-grating your calluses, deploy one of these motorized grinders. They quickly “sand” the rough parts of the feet (cracked heels included) to give you a smoother texture. That’s not saying it’s doing you any favors by way of softness, but it is a quick way to rid of a millimeter or two of dead skin clusters. Target rough spots and stay away from healthy skin and any cuts, and this will be a painless process.
Nail Clipper Kit
A full set of nail clippers will make sure you have the right tools for keeping your toenails in shape (use the straight-edged ones, not the arched fingernail clippers, folks!), and for filing them down to the optimal length and smoothness.
Since your partner may not want the assignment, spoil yourself with an at-home foot massager to de-stress your feet as frequently as needed. Make sure your feet are small enough to fit the device you buy, though—the one above, for example, maxes out at a men’s 12.
Technically this isn’t a pedicure product, but trust us. Your feet, knees, back, and more will thank you—especially if you wear dress shoes or run frequently. A cushioning insert can help minimize calluses and blisters, and you can even target specific conditions like arch pain or plantar fasciitis.