I didn't make this email up. I swear:
Dear Beauty Editor,
I have dry, cracked feet from wearing flip flops all the time and from running. What products can I use to give me the smooth, supple tootsies I desire? Because the Vaseline Intensive Rescue Hydrating Foot Cream I've been using ain't doin' shit. Help!
Signed, Cracked Out
Now, I may or may not know "Cracked Out" personally. (And she may or may not have just written a terrific piece in ELLE Canada on a related issue—the Shellac mani.) But anyway! I think her problem is a common one, since so many products out there are simply glorified hand lotions masquerading as foot creams. (Sorry, Vaseline.) If you have dry feet you really can't fool around. You need to call in the big guns...
The magic ingredient: Urea
What most docs will tell you is to use a foot cream that contains an ingredient called urea.
What it does is moisturize dry skin by softening the hard layer (it's called the "horny layer", would you believe?), reducing water loss and protecting the skin barrier.
It comes in a whole bunch of different strengths, so if your problem is particularly serious, you can get it in a prescription version (about 40% urea) from a podiatrist. But over-the-counter, most preparations clock in at around 10%. Like this guy from Eucerin:
NeoStrata used to make a really good one too, but I'm not sure it's still available. If you want to go a bit stronger, most of the options are from sort of random, non-mainstream brands that you'll find tucked away on a bottom shelf at the drugstore. I've used this one from Dermal Therapy and with 22% urea, it works GREAT. But just to warn you—it definitely smells medicinal:
Another option, if you like your foot creams to be more luxe and/or natural: This paraben-free, 71% organic one from SpaRitual (now available at Murale!), which just landed on my desk.
Now, it doesn't contain urea so wouldn't be best for super-dry feet... but I've been using it a few days now and am really QUITE impressed by its moisturizing abilities. (Certainly it would be better than that Vaseline you've been using, Cracked Out.) And bonus: I JUST placed the scent... it's McDonald's orange drink! (I'm on a roll lately... first it was the Joe Fresh fruit roll-ups lip balm.)
More tips for dry feet
No matter which product you go for, you'll need to use it for a few weeks to see a difference. (In fact, if you weren't applying foot cream regularly before, even that act alone—with ANY type of product—can make a huge difference. As my pedicure ladies always like to tell me.)
If you can wear socks for a little while after you apply it, that will help too (since it keeps the cream on your feet for longer). Try the socks or booties from AirPlus for Her (the SOFTEST, COZIEST material in the world, as far as I'm concerned). They have built-in moisturizers!
And don't forget to exfoliate off that dry skin at least once or twice a week with a tool like this one from Tweezerman:
And then, I can guarantee you guys that as long as you keep up with the hair removal, your feet will NEVER, EVER look like this:
Was that a hobbit?
Okay, now tell me...
Do you suffer from dry, cracked feet as well?
How do you keep them soft and smooth?
Or are you just waiting for fall to come around so you can return to hiding them in closed-toe shoes?