How to Exfoliate Your Feet in 20 Minutes or Less

Follow these simple steps to get smooth, healthy feet.

Updated March 15, 2023
woman using pumice stone on foot

Get your feet sandal-ready and looking their best! Exfoliating your feet not only helps to remove dead skin cells and prevent dry, rough patches, but it can also improve circulation and help to prevent foot odor. With a few simple tools you may have at home or can find at your local drugstore, your feet will be smooth and refreshed in no time.

What You'll Need

Before you get ready for your at-home foot spa, there are a few tools you'll need to have on hand:

  • Foot scrub or exfoliating cream. These products typically contain small particles or abrasive ingredients that help to slough off dead skin cells when applied to the skin. Some popular foot scrubs include those made with pumice, salt, or sugar.
  • Foot file and/or pumice stone. These tools are specifically designed to help remove dead skin cells and eliminate rough patches from the skin. A foot file is a small, handheld tool with a rough surface that you can use to buff away dead skin cells. A pumice stone is a porous, volcanic rock that can scrub away rough patches on the skin.
  • Moisturizer: Choose a dense, rich moisturizing cream or lotion that has butters or oils that will help keep your feet hydrated.
  • Thick socks: These will protect both your feet and your floors.

You'll also need a bathtub or basin with warm water to soak your feet in, and a towel to dry them off.

Quick Tip

If you have corns or thick calluses, you can use a pumice stone daily, with gentle pressure, to help reduce the buildup of hard skin (and prevent it from coming back).

Step-by-Step Guide to Exfoliating Your Feet at Home

Once you have your supplies, you'll need about 20 minutes to exfoliate your feet. Follow these steps for smooth, healthy feet:

  • Gather your tools: Before you begin, make sure you have everything you need.
  • Soak your feet: Begin by soaking your feet in warm water in your bathtub or a basin for a few minutes to soften them. Consider adding a skin-softening agent, like Epsom salt or coconut oil, for even softer feet.
  • Apply the exfoliant: Once your feet are soaked and softened, it's time to apply the exfoliant. If you're using a foot scrub or exfoliating cream, massage it onto your feet using circular motions.
  • Tend to rough patches and calluses: If you're using a foot file or pumice stone, gently rub it over rough patches on your feet in a circular motion. If you're using a pumice stone, make sure to get it wet before you begin.
  • Rinse and dry: Once you've applied the exfoliant and scrubbed your feet, rinse them off with warm water and pat them dry with a towel.
  • Moisturize: After exfoliating, it's important to moisturize your feet to help keep them hydrated and healthy. Apply a thick foot cream or lotion, massaging it into your skin until it's fully absorbed.
  • Put on socks: Grab your favorite pair of cozy socks and put them on your feet after applying the moisturizer. This helps seal in the moisture and ensures the moisturizer doesn't end up on any surfaces you step on.
  • Repeat as needed: How often you exfoliate your feet will depend on your skin type and the condition of your feet. Some people may only need to exfoliate once a month, while others may need to do it more frequently. Pay attention to your feet and exfoliate as needed to keep them looking and feeling their best.
woman applying foot cream

Tips for Exfoliating Your Feet

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your foot exfoliation routine:

  • Be gentle: It's important to be gentle when exfoliating your feet. Use a light touch and avoid scrubbing too hard, as this can damage the skin.
  • Pay attention to problem areas: If you have rough patches or calluses on your feet, pay extra attention to these areas when exfoliating. A foot file or pumice stone can help remove these rough patches.
  • Protect your feet: To help protect your feet from further damage, consider wearing socks or shoes that offer proper support and cushioning. This can help to prevent problems like blisters and calluses from forming.

What Causes Dead Skin Build-up?

Your feet are your body's foundation, and taking care of them is important. Dead skin buildup on the feet is a common problem that can lead to dry skin, cracked heels, and calluses on the feet. There are several factors that can make your feet dry and rough:

  • Lack of moisture: Without regular moisturization, your skin can become dry and flaky, and your feet are no exception. This can lead to the build-up of dead skin cells, resulting in thick, rough patches of skin on the heels and toes.
  • Excessive sweating: Sweating can lead to the breakdown of skin cells on the feet, which can contribute to the buildup of dead skin cells.
  • Wearing tight shoes: When tight shoes rub against the skin on the feet, friction can lead to calluses, blisters, and patches of thicker skin.
  • Not wearing socks: Wearing socks can help the feet stay moisturized and prevent the build-up of dead skin cells on the feet.
  • Not washing feet regularly: Standing in the shower isn't enough - it's important to scrub with a washcloth or pumice to help slough away dead skin cells.
  • Age: Aging causes the body's natural exfoliation process to slow down, which can lead to a buildup of dead skin cells on the feet.
  • Regular wear and tear: Friction from walking, running, and other demands placed on your feet can contribute to skin buildup.

Benefits of Foot Exfoliation

Exfoliating helps to remove dead skin cells, revealing the smoother, healthier skin underneath. Along with smoother skin, exfoliating your feet can:

  • Improve the appearance of your feet: Exfoliating reduces flaky patches and hard skin.
  • Promote circulation: When you exfoliate, you're massaging the skin and increasing blood flow to the area. Poor circulation in the feet can lead to nerve damage and cause numbness, weakness, and tingling sensations. Better circulation can help keep your feet healthy and pain-free.
  • Prevent foot odor: Removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin can help to prevent foot odor by reducing the amount of bacteria on your skin.
  • Improve the effectiveness of other foot care products: If you use lotions or creams to moisturize your feet, exfoliating helps remove the tough outer layer of dead skin cells so the moisturizing products can penetrate deeper into the skin.

Step Out With Smooth Feet

Make exfoliation part of your regular skin care routine to keep your tootsies fresh and healthy. Just as you wouldn't skip moisturizing your face, taking a few extra minutes to tend to your toes will ensure that they always look and feel great.

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How to Exfoliate Your Feet in 20 Minutes or Less