Best Foot Files

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

29 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
202 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best foot files

Last Updated September 2019

Our feet are susceptible to issues like dry skin, calluses, and cracked heels. Weather changes, not wearing socks, wearing shoes that are too big or too tight can all cause irritation that leads to hardened and rough skin. If you can’t afford regular pedicures, foot files offer an affordable way to slough off dead skin and exfoliate tough soles.

Conventional foot files are handheld and similar to nail files with a sandpaper-like exfoliating material. Other foot files use a metal grate, tempered glass, or a pumice stone to file the feet. Electric foot files have revolving roller heads that take some of the elbow grease out of the exfoliation process.

Which files can be used in the shower? Which ones can be used on dry skin? If you’ve got questions about foot files, we’ve got you covered. Our buying guide includes all you need to know about foot files, including our top product picks in the matrix above. No more hiding your feet during sandal season – we’ll help you find the right foot file for smooth soles.

Foot files are also called foot scrapers, callus removers, and foot buffers.

Benefits of foot files

Foot files are handheld devices with an exfoliating surface – like emery, metal, stone, or even glass – that removes dead and tough skin on the feet. Foot files can also be used as part of a regular foot care routine to keep from developing calluses and to help maintain soft, smooth skin.

Foot files are ideal for tackling calluses, tough or hardened soles, dry or flaky skin, cracked heels, rough or uneven texture, and seasonal rough or dry feet. However, not all feet can tolerate the abrasive exfoliation that foot files offer. Don’t use a foot file if you have open wounds, cuts, or scabs on your feet or if you have psoriasis, eczema, or an infection such as athlete’s foot.

EXPERT TIP

Electric foot files that are 100% waterproof can be fully immersed in a bathtub or used in the shower.


Staff  | BestReviews

Key considerations

Manual vs. electric

Foot files can either be manual or electric. Both models are handheld.

Manual foot files are less expensive but require users to manually exfoliate. They typically have long handles for easy maneuvering around the entire foot. The exfoliating head of manual files comes in various materials, widths, and shapes. Many manual foot files can be used in the shower and on dry skin, but some are only designed for dry use.

Electric foot files are more expensive than manual files but don’t require the user to put in much effort. These devices look like electric razors with roller heads. Some models offer various roller strengths, from light buffing to heavy-duty exfoliation. Most electric foot files can be used wet or dry, though some models can only be used on dry skin.

Exfoliation material

Foot files use a variety of materials to slough off dead skin.

  • Emery: The material used in conventional nail files is also commonly used in manual foot files. This granular rock is crushed into an abrasive grit of various levels of coarseness. Emery foot files can be used on dry or wet feet. Just be sure that if you’re using the file in the shower that the handle is waterproof. Emery foot files are the most affordable foot files.
  • Glass: Glass foot files are less common than emery files but gently buff rough skin and calluses. They use tempered crystal that has a gritty finish etched into the surface. They are generally double-sided and can be used on dry or wet skin. They are also surprisingly durable.
  • Pumice: Pumice is a lightweight volcanic rock with a rough texture that’s long been used for natural exfoliation. While this stone can be used without a file, files with a pumice head are convenient. Some files use foam pads textured like pumice. When using a pumice file, be sure both the stone and feet are wet. Pumice files are not recommended for dry use.
  • Metal: Metal foot files are also called rasps. They look like small cheese graters with their microplane surfaces. These files are much stronger than other types and work best on calluses. They are generally designed to be used on dry skin, though some also work on wet skin. Look for rasps made of surgical-grade stainless steel that resists rust. Select a waterproof design if you plan on taking metal rasps into the shower.
  • Rollers: Electric foot files have roller heads made from micro-abrasive particles like diamond crystals. They are manufactured to vary in coarseness.

Size

Do you want to cover your sole in one fell swoop, or do you have targeted areas to file? Larger or wider foot files are better for hardened soles, whereas smaller or slimmer files will get at those calluses on your toes better.

Handle

Select a foot file with a handle that’s easy to grip and won’t slip in your hands, especially if you plan on using it in the shower. Some foot files offer ergonomic and non-slip rubberized grips. Others offer slightly curved handles for better angling.

EXPERT TIP

Calluses mostly occur on the feet because of ill-fitting footwear.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Double-sided

Manual foot files that are double-sided offer a finer abrasive surface on one side for gentler exfoliation and a coarser surface on the other side for tougher jobs. It’s usually recommended that you start with the coarser side, then follow up with the finer side.

Waterproof

If you want to take your foot file into the shower or bath, it must be waterproof. Some materials and handles can rust or corrode in wet environments. You should also look for materials that are resistant to mildew.

Storage

Foot files with a handle loop or a hole in the handle can be hung on a hook in the shower for easy-to-reach, convenient storage. Some manufacturers even provide a suction hook that sticks to tiled shower walls.

Foot file prices

Foot files range in price from $3.50 to $30. Basic manual foot files range from $3.50 to $8. These are typically emery-style files or metal rasps.

Mid-priced manual foot files range from $8.50 to $14. These include higher-quality metal rasps, pumice stone files, and waterproof emery files. Premium foot files are electric files that start at $15 and go up to $30.

EXPERT TIP

Rasp-style foot files remove the toughest skin, like calluses, with broad metal microplane heads.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Use a foot file regularly between pedicure appointments to maintain smooth, soft skin and extend the life of your pedicure.
  • For best results, soak your feet for 10 to 15 minutes in warm water to soften your skin before using a foot file.
  • When using a metal rasp or emery file, exfoliate in an up-and-down motion. Pumice files are best used in circular motions.
  • Apply a foot lotion or cream after using a foot file to soothe the skin and keep it soft.

Other products we considered

If you’re looking to maintain your pedi between salon visits, try the esthetician-recommended Footlogix Double-Sided File with Rubberized Handle. This premium-priced manual file has two sides of metal grit – one fine, one coarse – that will never shred your skin. This file is gentle, safe to use, and easy to sanitize. It’s a professional-grade file that will leave your feet soft, smooth, and sandal-ready. It also has a non-slip handle and attractive design. If you’re looking for an emery foot file that’s durable, look no further than the ZenLiven Professional Pedicure Foot File. Its attractive design won’t corrode in the shower as its wood handle is completely waterproof. It comes with double-sided grit that won’t cut up your feet. This classic file scores bonus points for its handle loop and suction hook, so you can hang this beauty in any shower.

Pumice is a textured rock formed from volcanic eruptions. It’s a natural, nontoxic material used in some manual foot files.

FAQ

Q. What are calluses, and why do they form?
A.
Calluses are hardened layers of skin that form when your skin is repeatedly exposed to pressure or friction. The culprit can be wearing shoes that are too tight, high heels, or shoes without socks. Your skin thickens at those pressure points in an effort to protect itself. Calluses can form on feet and toes as well as on hands and fingers. They are rarely painful, but you should schedule a visit to your doctor if they become inflamed or start to hurt.

Q. How do I keep my foot file clean?
A.
Manual foot files are best rinsed after every use. You can use a bristle brush with a small amount of soap to clean dead skin caught in the nooks and crannies of a pumice stone file. After rinsing thoroughly, place the file in an area away from moisture so that bacteria doesn’t grow as it dries. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and sanitizing electric foot files. For sanitary reasons, never share a foot file with another member of your household.

Q. Are there any harmful side effects from using a foot file?
A.
If you scrub too vigorously or too often, you can break the skin and cause damage. If you have any of the conditions we listed above, a foot file can exacerbate or complicate those issues. Some people also just have skin that’s too sensitive for such an abrasive exfoliating technique. Calluses occur more frequently if you have diabetes and can lead to complications like ulcers. If you’re diabetic and your calluses develop into open sores, don’t use a foot file and see your doctor immediately.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ana
    Ana
    Writer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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