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When sandal season rolls around, having smooth, baby-soft feet makes every pair of sandals or flip flops look just a little bit better. Unfortunately, the skin on our feet is thicker than on any other part of our body, so it can get rough in a hurry — and if you don’t take proper care of it, calluses can form. To get your feet back in shape in a hurry, a callus remover is usually the best solution. These at-home pedicure tools help shave off the thickened, rough patches to reveal the fresh, smooth skin underneath.
But choosing the right callus remover can be daunting!
While the price range is fairly consistent across the board, you must decide between electric buffer-style callus removers and manual shaver-styler callus removers, as well as whether you want a corded style, a rechargeable model, or a waterproof tool.
Here at BestReviews, we are dedicated to helping you make the most informed decision when you’re shopping for a callus remover. We buy all of our test products ourselves and conduct field and expert research so our reviews are completely unbiased. The matrix above contains descriptions of our favorite five callus removers on the market today. Our shopping guide can help you use that info to decide which one will best suit your needs in your quest for smooth, soft feet.
Thick, hard patches of skin — otherwise known as calluses — can form on any part of your body that experiences repeated friction. Guitarists, mechanics, and other people who work with their hands can develop callused fingertips or palms, but the feet are the most common area for calluses to form.
In most cases, it’s friction from your shoes that causes calluses on your feet. The skin hardens in order to protect the more delicate layers beneath the calluses from all the irritating rubbing.
Calluses differ from corns, which are raised bumps of rough, thickened skin, because they are usually flat and spread over a larger area. In addition to poorly fitting shoes, the way that you walk and abnormalities in your feet are leading causes of calluses.
While calluses seems like a skin issue, they’re often caused by bones in the foot. The long metatarsal bones can cause a plantar callus, which forms on the heel, and a plantar keratosis, which is a callus that forms on the ball of the foot.
There are two main types of callus removers: electric and manual.
Electric callus removers feature a roller head covered with a sandpaper-like material. As you roll it over your calluses, the roller head gently buffs away the dead, hard skin to reveal the smooth, healthy skin beneath.
Some electric models are cordless and utilize batteries so you can use them even if there isn’t an outlet nearby. Other electric models have cords that must be plugged into an outlet to remove the calluses.
While a callus remover may take off the thickened skin, it’s likely to recur. You’ll need to do regular maintenance with your remover to keep your feet smooth and soft.
Manual callus removers shave the dead skin from your calluses with small blades. You rub the tool over your callused areas, and the blades cut away the thick, hardened skin.
Some manual callus removers have a microplane design with many small blades, so they almost “grate” the dead skin away in the same way that a cheese grater works on a block of cheddar. Other models feature a single blade that works to shave off the hardened skin in the same way that a vegetable peeler works to remove the skin from a potato.
The actual medical term for a callus is hyperkeratosis.
When you’re considering an electric callus remover, your main decision is between corded and cordless models.
A corded callus remover must be plugged into an outlet, so you can’t use it in the shower or under water.
A cordless callus remover uses batteries, so you don’t need to be near an outlet to use it. If it’s waterproof, you can even bring it in the shower with you.
Some cordless models utilize built-in batteries that require charging, so you must plug them into an outlet for a certain period to recharge. Other cordless callus removers utilize traditional batteries that require replacement when they are fully drained.
Most calluses aren’t painful because the skin is thick and less sensitive. If you have a painful callus, it’s a good idea to see a podiatrist.
Whether you choose an electric or a manual callus remover, there is some upkeep required for the tool.
With an electric remover, you usually must replace the roller head every two to four months, depending on how often you use it.
If your manual callus remover sports a single blade, it usually must be replaced every three to four months, depending on how often you use it.
For proper usage, it’s also important to keep your callus remover clean. You can easily wash a manual remover with soap and water. Waterproof electric models can also be washed with soap and water, but many often come with a cleaning brush that allows you to brush away any dead skin particles that get trapped in the device.
You may prefer to buy a callus remover with a warranty so you know how many years of service you will get from your tool.
Pro: Electric callus removers are extremely gentle because they buff the dead skin away rather than shaving it off.
Pro: Electric callus removers allow you to remove the calluses quickly, so you save time and effort.
Pro: Electric callus removers often come with multiple heads that are coarse or extra-coarse, so you can choose the proper option for your specific needs.
Pro: You can use an electric callus remover on dry and wet feet.
Con: If you aren’t near an outlet or the batteries have died, you can’t use an electric callus remover.
Con: The roller heads on electric callus removers can sometimes stop if you apply too much pressure to them.
Certain foot problems, such as bunions and hammertoes, can make you more prone to calluses.
Pro: Because they contain blades, manual callus removers can usually take off a particularly thick callus quickly and easily.
Pro: Manual callus removers are very durable.
Pro: You can use a manual callus remover anywhere, because it requires no electricity.
Con: Removing calluses with a manual tool usually requires more time than removing them with an electric tool.
Con: A manual callus remover’s sharp blades easily cut into the skin if you aren’t careful.
Con: Because they can cut into the skin easily, manual callus removers are a poor option for diabetics.
If calluses continue to recur in the same spot, it may be a sign that your require an insert, or orthotic, for your shoe to help correct an irregular walking pattern.
In general, callus removers are a fairly budget-friendly pedicure tool. Depending on what type and model you select, they usually range in price from $10 to $40.
During the course of our research, we found simple manual callus removers that cost as little as $7 and corded electric models that cost as much as $34.
At the end of the day, a manual callus remover usually offers the most bang for your buck if you’re on a tighter budget, with most retailing between $7 and $12.
If you want to invest a little more in a tool that saves you time and is easier to use, you should look for an electric model in the $18 to $34 price range.
Athletes, the elderly, overweight individuals, people who don’t wear socks with their shoes, and those who wear high heels regularly are most likely to develop calluses.
Manual callus removers typically last longer than electric models because they usually contain a single part. However, if your manual remover is a microplane style that doesn’t have removable blades, you may eventually need to replace it when the blades grow dull.
Electric callus removers often aren’t as durable as manual models because their motors can break down over time, but they usually work more quickly and easily. If durability is a top concern, we recommend you opt for a model with a warranty that guarantees a certain number of service years.
Calluses often have a yellowish color.
Whether you use an electric or manual callus remover, you’ll have an easier time getting rid of the dead skin if it’s softened first. Soak your feet in warm water or wet them in the shower for a few minutes. Pat your feet dry to remove the excess moisture, then run the remover over your calluses to gently take them off.
Be careful not to take too much skin off when you use your callus remover, particularly if it’s a manual style with blades. That can cause bleeding and possible infections. Start slowly with your remover, and take off just a little bit of the dead skin each day to avoid irritation.
Moisturize your feet with lotion or cream each day to prevent calluses. In particular, look for formulas that contain salicylic acid, ammonium lactate, or urea, which can soften the skin.
Choose properly fitting shoes and cotton socks to minimize the friction that can cause calluses. Shoes that are too tight and wool or synthetic fiber socks can irritate and harden the skin.
Q. Is removing calluses from your feet dangerous?
A. Using a callus remover usually isn’t dangerous if you are gentle and don’t remove too much skin. However, if your calluses are extremely painful or you have diabetes, it’s a good idea to see a dermatologist, podiatrist, or orthopedist first.
Q. How often should you use a callus remover?
A. In most cases, you shouldn’t use a callus remover more than once a day. If you’re just doing maintenance on your feet once you’ve removed the calluses, once or twice a week is usually enough.
Q. Can you also use these removers on hand calluses?
A. You can use electric calluses removers on your hands if you’re gentle, but manual removers are usually too harsh for the delicate skin on your hands.
Q. Will a callus remover get rid of cracked heels?
A. A callus remover alone won’t get rid of cracked heels. However, it can buff away the dead, dry skin, so if you pair it with a hydrating cream or balm, it may help heal the cracks.
Q. How often should you clean a callus remover?
A. Ideally, you should wash your callus remover after every use.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.