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6 Expert Tricks to Keeping Your Heels Smooth for Beach Season 

Find out how to get the softest summer feet, and look great in sandals.

It's sandals season, which means your feet are going to be on display whether you're ready or not. If you spent all winter and spring hiding them away in socks and boots, it's time for a major skincare overhaul. Luckily, there's no need to rush to the store for expensive foot creams or race to the nail tech. There are some simple fixes you can make now to improve your feet, and products to use that you may already have at home. Read on to find out what dermatologists, podiatrists, and skincare experts recommend to get your heels super smooth for beach season, and help keep them that way.

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Soak your feet before applying moisturizer.

woman's feet soaking in a bowl with white flowers with towels next to it
New Africa / Shutterstock

There's a reason manicurists soak your feet for so long in a salon before a pedicure. Dermatologist and co-founder of Stryke Club Sheilagh Maguiness, MD, suggests soaking before applying moisturizer to get your feet "nice and wrinkled." Once you've done that, "the outer layer of the skin has actually expanded due to the water soaking in."

When your feet are wet, you can retain the water by applying a thick moisturizer to "lock in all that hydration and help soften your feet and repair your skin barrier in that area."

Make sure your feet are moisturized before bed.

A woman feeling her foot while lying in bed

Speaking of moisturizer, one of the best ways to make sure your heels stay sandals-ready is to moisturize nightly. Keep a heavy-duty moisturizer on your bedside table, which you apply before hitting the hay.

Board-certified dermatologist Kemmy Mokaya, MD, recommends applying "thick moisturizing creams and ointments at night after cleansing your feet." She suggests "massaging almond oil, coconut oil, or olive oil followed by a thick layer of moisturizing cream." Once you've finished the routine, put on cotton socks overnight so the skin can absorb the moisturizer. (And to protect your sheets.)

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Exfoliate your feet regularly.

woman using an exfoliating rub on the heel of her foot in bathroom
Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock

If the only time you exfoliate your feet is during a pedicure, it might be time to introduce a scrub. Mokaya suggests exfoliating with loofahs, buffers, pumice stones, foot files, or other foot scrubbers, but warns "not to scrub too hard to avoid damaging the skin."

Rosmy Barrios, MD, head of the anti-aging department at IM Clinic and medical content author at Health Reporter explains that "by removing dead skin you prevent cracks in heels."

If the toughest skin doesn't seem to soften, Mokaya recommends considering chemical exfoliants, including salicylic acid, ammonium lactate, urea, glycolic acid, and fruit acids like citric and malic acid. These ingredients are often found in foot creams and exfoliating socks.

And there's no need to skimp on the professional exfoliation either. Lilly Rojas, co-founder of New York's first outdoor nail salon Lili and Cata, urges upping the exfoliation during your next pedicure. Ask for "extra softening treatments like sugar scrubs, masks, and lotions."

Don't skip the sunscreen.

woman's feet in ocean water
Bilanol / Shutterstock

Don't forget the sunscreen! Suzanne Levine, DPM, aesthetic podiatrist, podiatric foot surgeon, and founder of Millennium Podiatry says sunscreen will "keep your feet looking young."

Mokaya notes, "In addition to using sunscreen on your feet regularly, also practice sun protection by covering up feet and seeking shade outdoors." You probably won't realize your feet are burning until it's too late.

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Wear protective, breathable shoes.

travnikovstudio / iStock

The second summer hits, it's tempting to break out the flip-flops, but Mokaya says to save them for special occasions and opt for comfortable, breathable footwear instead. "While sandals, flip-flops, and other open shoes are comfortable in the summer, they expose feet to the heat, the sun, and other moisture-depleting elements," she warns. Choose shoes that protect feet from the elements, especially for active folks who are often outdoors or commuting in a busy city.

Rojas agrees. "The best way to make sure you have smooth heels and feet for beach season is to try and wear well-fitting comfortable shoes," she confirms. "Only wear high heels on special occasions, as they're guilty of giving you nasty corns and calluses."

Consider using DIY at-home ingredients.

coconut oil in a jar and on a spoon with pieces of coconut around it
Yuriy Ivanovskiy / Shutterstock

While plenty of products on the market work wonders, you can also cook up a foot mask at home to help your heels stay smooth. Barrios endorses occasionally using a honey mask, which has "antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, so it cleanses and even heals wounds."

Rojas encourages making a budget-friendly homemade scrub with coconut oil and sugar, and promises you'll see a difference. "The best time to try this is after your shower as your calloused, dry feet have been softened," she says.

Coconut oil in particular is great for cracked heels. Barrios credits it with moisturizing, having an antimicrobial effect, and reducing inflammation. Give it a try—your heels will thank you.

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