Part of being savvy is knowing how to tell truth from hype–or knowing someone else who does. When it comes to matters of skin, Dr. Jo Herzog is an expert. A dermatologist who has treated patients for decades, she is a wonderful resource when I want to know whether a product or procedure lives up to its claims.
When I first saw the viral “foot soak recipe” on Facebook that claimed to make dry skin disappear, I was intrigued, but skeptical. I immediately turned to Dr. Jo for her opinion. I simply sent her a copy of the “recipe for smooth feet” and asked her to weigh in. For old times’ sake, I included the “recipe” claim below:
Ideal to help with those crusty feet! Get it right ladies!! …the BEST way to get your feet ready for summer. Sounds crazy but it works! Mix 1/4c Listerine (any kind but I like the blue), 1/4c vinegar and 1/2c of warm water. Soak feet for 10 minutes–the dead skin will practically wipe off!
O.K., now let’s hear from the expert and see what she has to say……is this truth, or is it a tale?
Dr. Jo Herzog
I have been asked to comment on a widely circulating Facebook post about a new method to soften feet for the summer. It involves soaking the feet in a mixture of listerine, vinegar and water. So, is this truth or hype?
You can actually google this foot soak and find many old-time remedies for dry feet that include these ingredients. I guess you won’t know until you try it. It certainly couldn’t hurt, and it might even help. Your feet will surely be clean and tingly when you are done, especially if you use cool mint listerine. The two main ingredients are inexpensive and readily available in most homes, so the most you can lose is ten minutes and a few cents.
Listerine contains Thymol, an ingredient that does kill some bacteria and fungi. Although the concentration is lower in this than in some prescription products, it probably does “kill germs.” I am not sure, however, whether it would cause skin to exfoliate.
Vinegar is acetic acid. This also has some antibacterial properties and in a high enough concentration can cause irritation. Acetic acid contributes to cavity formation by eroding enamel from teeth. This might lead some to think that in low concentrations it can work to soften the skin and make it easier to exfoliate.
There have been several things written supporting the notion that vinegar and water soaks can be used to soften dry cracked heals. Some even recommend this for mild athlete’s foot. As I said earlier, it is worth a try if you have the time and the ingredients readily on hand.
There certainly is nothing wrong with or worrisome about soaking your feet in something safe enough to put in your mouth, so why not try this and see for yourself. Let’s hear what everyone thinks of this foot soak. Maybe I will try adding a touch of peppermint and eucalyptus to make my own foot spa.
Hope this helped,
(Jamie) After trying the foot soak myself, here is my take. The soak is tingly and refreshing, but that’s about it. I experienced no removal or peeling of dry skin. The fact is, exfoliation requires much more than a soak (unless you are soaking in fruit acids such as those found in Baby Foot).
Although a good foot soak can soften feet temporarily, the hard work of removing dry skin requires more effort. I plan to devote a bit of effort and research into finding effective exfoliating products for dry skin, particularly feet. I’ll be sure to check back and share what I discover on Family Savvy.
Update: Since writing the original post, I have discovered a combination of products that can do much more to soften and exfoliate dry feet than any foot soak ever will. Here are some that really work. I have tried all of these and highly recommend them.
- For removing dry, dead skin, the best product I’ve found is Baby Foot. I bought this at my local health club spa and tried it first on my husband. It did such an amazing job of removing dry skin from his feet that I shared the experience (with photos) in Blown Away By Baby Foot. In a nutshell, Baby Foot uses fruit acids to penetrate into the skin and days later bring about a peeling process. For those of you who have had a chemical peel (facial), the process is very similar. Baby Foot is easy to use and costs less than a salon pedicure. I use Baby Foot every 3-4 months.
- For maintaing soft feet after a good peel from Baby Foot, try my version of the Best Ever DIY Pedicure. The products that I use are inexpensive and really work if used consistently. I do this pedicure at home every 1-2 weeks.
- Dr. Jo recommends two simple products that can be applied several times a week after bathing or showering. Find her home remedy in Dr. Jo’s recipe for soft smooth feet.
- If you want a daily dose of listerine and vinegar on your feet but don’t have time for a soak, try my listerine vinegar sugar scrub for feet. It is amazing, and my feedback from Family Savvy readers is very positive. One of my friends told me that she uses this every single day before bathing!
- For stubborn callouses, we use the Emoji Micro-Pedi callous remover. My daughter used this on a large foot callous and experience great results after one use. To learn how to safely remove callouses, you can read Dr. Jo’s advice in Callouses: To Remove or Not To Remove?
So, here’s a breakdown of a doable routine that can be done at home to get feet soft & smooth and keep them that way.
- EVERY 3-4 Months–foot peel using Baby Foot.
- EVERY 1-2 Weeks–Best Ever DIY pedicure.
- 2-3 TIMES PER WEEK–Dr. Jo’s home remedy
- EVERY DAY or AS NEEDED–Listerine Vinegar Sugar Scrub for Feet
So….there you have it; my tried and true products and techniques for achieving and maintaining soft feet. I’d love to hear back from you if you try any or all of these. Reader feedback is helpful and much appreciated!
Note: Some links in this post are referral links. My full disclosure policy is here.