Reader question: My feet are dry and cracked. How can I get the smooth, supple tootsies I desire?

cleaer heels

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:

eucerin 10 urea foot cream Reader question: My feet are dry and cracked. How can I get the smooth, supple tootsies I desire?

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:

Dermal Therapy Foot Cream Reader question: My feet are dry and cracked. How can I get the smooth, supple tootsies I desire?

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.

Spa Ritual Sole Mate Reader question: My feet are dry and cracked. How can I get the smooth, supple tootsies I desire?

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!

Spa Footie Group Shot Packaged Reader question: My feet are dry and cracked. How can I get the smooth, supple tootsies I desire?

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:

TweezermanPedroCallusStoneFootFile Reader question: My feet are dry and cracked. How can I get the smooth, supple tootsies I desire?

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:

hobbit feet Reader question: My feet are dry and cracked. How can I get the smooth, supple tootsies I desire?

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?

25 Comments

Jenncharina
Tuesday, August 10/2010 at 12:25 pm

My suggestion is for her to visit her doctor and get checked out for diabetes. Dry, cracked feet and heels are very common with diabetics.

What works for me is twice weekly use of pumice stone in shower and daily application of extra-rich lotion. These days I’m using the same one I use for my ever-expanding pregnant belly – Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Cream. Otherwise any cream/lotion with shea or cocoa butter seems to keep my footsie tootsies smooth and moisturized.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, August 12/2010 at 7:56 pm

Good tip – thanks! I have heard about the diabetes/dry feet connection as well.

And I LOVE Palmer’s! Smells amazing – will have to try on feet!

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Cheryl
Tuesday, August 10/2010 at 12:25 pm

I enjoyed the post, thought it was funny, and may try some of the products you recommended.

Was it really necessary to publish the reader’s letter with the word “shit” in it though? The use of a swear word reduces the overall quality of the post. It’s just not nice.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, August 12/2010 at 7:58 pm

Sorry that you were offended! I don’t like to censor unless it’s something obnoxious or nasty towards another commenter (or me!).

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Deb
Wednesday, October 12/2011 at 12:38 am

I totally agree. Nasty and poor use of ‘words’ and not necessary in getting their point across. I do appreciate the helpful info. on your site, though. Thank you.

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Marc
Tuesday, August 10/2010 at 12:29 pm

Moisturizing the feet with a traditional moisturizer is akin to moisturizing the skin through a piece of plastic wrap. The dry cracked layer, just doesn’t allow the cream to penetrate. Linacare Foot Cream is a dream! Results, results, results!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, August 12/2010 at 8:01 pm

Marc, you are a wealth of beauty information!
I didn’t know Linacare made foot cream now. If it does for your feet what their original cream does for your face, it must be incredible…!!

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Lesa
Tuesday, August 10/2010 at 12:40 pm

Eucerin and Linacare deliver some seriously hard core results.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, August 12/2010 at 8:02 pm

Cool – another vote for Linacare. Added to the wish list.

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Elaine
Tuesday, August 10/2010 at 1:42 pm

Just a note: keep the word shit in the post – i hate censorship! Thanks for being liberal on that matter!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, August 12/2010 at 8:04 pm

Thanks Elaine – the shit will stay. As I said above, I only want to censor mean people… not swearing ones. :-)

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Jill D (29secrets.com)
Tuesday, August 10/2010 at 3:07 pm

Butter London Stiletto Stick is awesome for this problem too!! a lot of celeb mani/pedi people use it on set. I love that it’s in a stick format so you can travel with it easily. It’s kind of pricey, but lasts a while

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, August 12/2010 at 8:06 pm

I need to become more familiar with Butter London! Only have a couple of their polishes but this sounds VERY cool. I love things that come in a stick!

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Ilsie
Tuesday, August 17/2010 at 12:21 pm

After showering and before going to bed I moisturize my feet. One night I run out of foot cream so instead I used my hand cream, La soure hand therapy from Crabtree & Evelyn, and that was it, hooked. Best cream ever for hands and feet.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, August 18/2010 at 10:39 am

Not surprised – Crabtree creams are some good stuff!

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em
Tuesday, August 17/2010 at 7:12 pm

Palmers is awesome I use the lip balm too, and its not just for feet its a whole body lotion makes your skin feel really soft. Sometimes I slather on vaseline (if you have really dry feet or hands), but only during bedtime.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, August 18/2010 at 10:43 am

Oh yes good old Vaseline. I know a lot of people swear by it!

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Timmy
Wednesday, March 7/2012 at 11:13 pm

I use Palmers but butter, works good for me.

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Jenn
Thursday, August 19/2010 at 3:09 am

The only thing that has ever worked for me is this amazing stuff from Australia: Flexitol Heel Balm. I’ve found it at Shopper’s Drug Mart and at Wal-Mart on occasion – but it’s usually hiding with the diabetic products near the pharmacy counter rather than next to that no-goodnik (for me, anyway!) Dr. Scholl crap.

Put it on your feet before bed, follow up with a pair of socks to let it all absorb while you sleep, and the cracks heal within a few days. It’s ahhhmazing, I swear.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, August 19/2010 at 5:24 pm

Oh yes Flexitol! I think I have their blister thing – must try the heel one. Thanks for the tip!

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amy
Saturday, July 16/2011 at 12:09 pm

My whole foot isn”t the problem. The tips of mu toes are what are dry and cracking. It hurts like hell!!! Please help with some kind of cure.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, July 24/2011 at 7:54 pm

Try the urea cream. Have you seen a dermatologist or podiatrist?

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Ilyaas
Monday, October 10/2011 at 1:14 am

The urea in heel balm is derived from what?

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Sami
Wednesday, March 14/2012 at 12:10 pm

I had really bad cracked feet, but when my local pharmacist suggested to use something containing urea I just couldn’t. Rightly or wrongly, it felt like I’d be using a certain waste product of the body which contains urea in abundance. He then recommended a cream called Nixsi foot cream and that work really well (I used the warming one). Has anyone else used it?

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Lisa West
Tuesday, March 26/2013 at 11:39 am

I use Avons moisture cream and it works great. I have a question….where do I find those shoes at?

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