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What is a foot peel mask?
If there’s one part of your body that’s most prone to dryness, it’s most likely your feet, which bear the brunt of your every physical movement. In fact, an estimated 73 percent of people suffer from dry, rough, cracked, or irritated skin on their feet, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association. Luckily, there’s an easy, at-home solution for dry, cracked heels and feet: a foot peel mask.
Think of these masks like chemical peels for your feet. They break down the dead layer of skin on your feet to reveal new, healthy skin, explains podiatrist William Spielfogel, DPM, chief of podiatry in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital-Northwell Health in New York City.
“The feet are made up of several layers, and often these layers can get damaged, which is why we can end up with dry, cracked, or peeling skin as well as calluses,” says Dr. Spielfogel, who is also director of Lenox Hill Hospital-Northwell Health’s podiatric medicine and surgery residency program.
(Related: Is Walking Barefoot Bad For Your Feet?)
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How does a foot peel mask work?
Most foot peel masks use a topical formulation that stimulates exfoliation of the skin, says dermatologist Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, clinical assistant professor at NY Presbyterian Hospital–Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. “These peels work by destroying the proteins in the outermost layers of the skin, causing superficial exfoliation and increased cell turnover,” she says. “The most common peels contain one or more hydroxy acids that acidify the skin cells, making them subsequently slough off.”
Not all foot peel masks are the same. They come in various strengths that penetrate the skin to different depths depending on the desired result, explains Dr. Murphy-Rose. That said, they’ll all be stronger than chemical peels you’d use on your face. “The epidermis of the soles of the feet is thick and can withstand a stronger peel than, say, the thinner skin of your face, so foot peels are more potent to get the desired effect,” she says.
What are the benefits of using a foot peel mask?
The main benefit of using a foot peel mask is to achieve smoother, less-cracked, and less-irritated skin on your feet. “The stratum corneum, or outermost layer of the skin, is especially thick on the soles of the feet and tends to dry and harden,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose. “A foot peel mask helps to exfoliate the thick, hardened skin, and the masks usually contain ingredients to hydrate skin and lock in moisture.”