What Are Exfoliating Socks and Do They Really Work?

What Are Exfoliating Socks and Do They Really Work?Although some people associate pedicure with painted toenails, the procedure also includes getting rid of rough dead skin and moisturizing one’s feet. While some people prefer mechanical exfoliation (scrubs, foot files, pumice stones), others opt for chemical means such as exfoliating socks. What are exfoliating socks and do they really help make the feet softer and smoother?

First of all, let’s figure out the difference between mechanical and chemical exfoliation. Mechanical exfoliation involves physically scrubbing the feet with a pumice stone or another abrasive to remove dead skin. Chemical exfoliation involves the use of products that contain acids or enzymes (of course, in safe concentrations). These products loose the substance that holds the cells together, allowing to remove the layer of dead cells and reveal new, soft skin underneath.

Exfoliating socks are basically plastic bags filled with a gel-like exfoliating solution that breaks down the outer layers of rough dead skin. Most at-home foot peel solutions contain a combination of several alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid, lactic acid and citric acid, and often also salicylic acid, which belongs to beta hydroxy acids. Most manufacturers also add hydrating, nourishing and soothing agents such as aloe vera gel, glycerin, allantoin, panthenol, urea, plant oils and extracts, vitamin E, etc. These agents maximize the softening potential of the socks, as well as prevent irritation and dehydration.

Exfoliating socks are very easy to use. First, you need to wash or soak your feet and towel them dry. Then you slip your feet in the socks and keep them on as long as the instruction requires you to. Different peels contain different types and concentrations of acids, and the recommended time is determined based on their composition.

The process shouldn’t be painful at all, although you may feel a warm and/or tingling sensation on your skin. If you experience severe burning or pain, take the socks off immediately, wash your feet and check with your doctor if there’s any rash, blistering or other sign of allergic reactions. Although exfoliating socks contain safe concentrations of acids, allergies can be unpredictable.

After the time is up, take the socks off, throw them away and rinse your feet with warm water. And then you wait. The peeling process doesn’t start straight away; it usually takes 3 to 7 days for the first results to appear. The outer layer of dead skin will peel away on its own over the course of a week or so. You don’t have to do anything except soak your feet every evening to help the skin ease away. Don’t pick on your skin, stay away from using foot scrubs, pumice or exfoliating sponges, and make sure not to moisturize.

Your feet will look gross for about a week and you will have to wear closed shoes to hide it, but the result is absolutely worth it! Peeling socks will make your feet extremely soft and smooth. The result will last for 2–3 months, depending on the thickness of your skin and its renewal rate.

Please keep in mind that the skin of your feet will be sensitive after a chemical peel. You’ll need to pay extra attention to keeping it moisturized and nourished, as well as protect it from UV rays (meaning that when you go to a beach, you must apply sunscreen to all of your exposed skin, including your feet).

Although exfoliating socks are generally considered safe, there are some contraindications, such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, diabetes, some skin conditions (for example, psoriasis and eczema). You also shouldn’t use peeling socks if you have any wounds, scratches, cracks, abrasions, blisters, or other injuries on your feet because acids will hinder the healing process.

Photo by Alicia Zinn from Pexels





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