Best Toe Separators

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
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.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
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.Read more 
How we decided

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

27 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
192 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

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

Buying guide for best toe separators

Last Updated December 2019

We aren’t all lucky enough to have perfect feet. Genetics, habits, and injury can all lead to painful conditions like bunions and hammertoes that have the potential to limit your activity. Toe separators are an inexpensive solution to relieve pain and slow the progress of these painful conditions.

These inexpensive devices come in different designs and styles, so you’ve got some decisions to make once you decide to give them a try. Which and how many toes need separating? Do you need cushioning and protection from your foot rubbing your shoe? Do you want to wear a separator while you exercise?

Whether you need a model that’s strictly for separation or one that provides cushioning and stretching, there’s a toe separator set waiting for you. Our shopping guide will help you determine the kind of toe separators that would fit your needs and improve your quality of life.

Toe separators are often sold in multipacks. Double- and triple-toe separators are small enough that you can stash extras in a backpack, briefcase, or purse to use any time you feel foot pain.

Key considerations

Types of toe separators

Double-toe separators

These separators fit between two toes. The design can vary quite a bit: some are simply a small gel cushion that’s held in place by the pressure of the two toes. Some models are closed toe, which means the separator surrounds both toes like two connected rings, while others are open toe, leaving your toes exposed on the top and/or bottom. Models designed to separate the big and second toe may have a shield on the outside of the big toe to prevent rubbing and/or an extra thick gel pad between the toes to counteract bunions. Double=toe separators may be made of hard or soft gel.

Triple-toe separators

Triple-toe separators are the same as double-toe models, except they’re made for three toes. They too can be made of hard or soft gel and can be closed or open. Some designs only fit the small toes while others fit the big toe as well.

Full-toe separators

Full-toe models separate all your toes at once. They may be closed or open. Models made of hard gel provide more separation than open-toe models. For the ultimate in toe separation, there are sets that include both a closed- and open-toe separator that can be worn together or separately. Separators made with soft gel provide gentler separation than those made of hard gel, which can spread the toes too much for comfort, especially if you have small feet. Some have a foot pad and can be worn in a loose shoe.

Mobility and stability

Do you want to be able to walk while wearing a toe separator? If so, choose carefully, as not all models are designed for mobility. In general, if you want to wear a toe separator while walking or exercising, soft gel models work best. Some even have a foot pad that cushions the foot and adds stability. Hard gel toe separators, on the other hand, aren’t designed for walking, but you can probably get away with hobbling around your house, if needed.

Comfort

Separating your toes isn’t always a comfortable experience. If your goal is to stretch the toes to relieve whatever condition you’re experiencing, you should expect some discomfort. Hard gel and foam separators are the least forgiving, while soft gel separators cushion and support without overstretching.

Cleaning ease

Anything you wear on your feet can quickly get dirty. Toe separators are no different. Gel models can also be a little sticky to the touch, which means they may attract fuzz and dirt. Most gel models can be hand-washed with soap and water. Models that have fabric holding the separator in place will need to be dried completely before they’re worn to prevent mold. Foam doesn’t collect dirt like gel, but it tends to be less durable and may hang onto odors longer.

Size

Toe separators don’t usually come in different sizes. However, size varies by brand and type. Open-toe and soft gel models may offer a better fit, especially if you have small feet.

EXPERT TIP

Don’t confuse medical toe separators with those used to separate the toes for painting toenails. They’re designed for different purposes. That doesn’t mean you can’t use a medical toe separator for painting toenails, but when you’re shopping around, remember that some toe separators are designed only for cosmetic purposes.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Materials

Medical-grade gel: Hard medical-grade gel works well, doesn’t irritate the skin, and comes in fun colors. However, its lack of flexibility may stretch some toes too far. Soft medical-grade gel is usually clear or opaque white and provides a gentler stretch. Most types are latex-free, but not all of them are, so check the packaging carefully if you have a latex allergy. Some gel toe separators are designed to be worn while you walk or during exercise. However, keep in mind that the more vigorous your activity is, the more likely the separator is to tear.

Foam: Foam separators aren’t as durable as gel, nor are they as comfortable. However, if you want light separation or something that could be used if you decide to paint your toenails, foam is a good choice.

Stretch fabric: Some double- and triple-toe separators have a stretch fabric that holds the separator in place. Models with this design work well if you want to wear the separator in a shoe or barefoot in the house. The fabric is gentle on your feet and protects the gel from collecting lint and dirt.

Separation vs. padding

Separators should separate, right? Yes, but some models are designed purely for separating and stretching the toes while others separate and also pad sensitive areas of the feet. Pads may be on the outside of the big toe or on the ball of the foot to protect the areas where bunions or calluses typically form.

Color

Toe separators don’t need to look like a medical device to do their job well. If you’d rather have the look you might get at a spa, look for gel models that can come in blues, purples, or greens.

Consider when and where you’ll be using the toe separator. Bright colors can be fun and give the whole experience a spa-like feel. But white or clear toe separators might be more appropriate and discrete if you’ll be wearing them at the gym or elsewhere, away from your home.

Toe separator prices

Inexpensive double-, triple-, and full-toe separators start around $5. These soft gel models are comfortable to wear around the house and work to prevent bunions and hammertoes. While these models aren’t flashy or fancy, they can relieve foot pain. In the $10 to $25 range are separators in multi-packs. At $25 and over are hard gel, closed and open full-toe separators. They may come in bright colors or even be glittery.

Tips

  • What do you need the toe separator to do? Determining this can help narrow your search. Several overlapping toes, for example, warrant a full-toe separator, whereas you may only need a double-toe model if your goal is relief from bunion pain.
  • Some toe separators are designed to be worn while you wear shoes. However, make sure your shoes have extra space in the toe box to make room for the separator.
  • Toe separators relieve pain and may prevent further misalignment from bunions or overlapping toes. Unfortunately, they can’t correct any damage that’s already been done. Some manufacturers may make this claim, but these devices are not miracle cures. They can prevent pain, stop uncomfortable rubbing, and slow the changes taking place in the foot. Even with consistent use, toes may still misalign and bunions may worsen. Be sure to consult your doctor about ongoing foot problems.
  • Some separators take time to get used to, while others will feel surprisingly comfortable from the moment you take them out of the package. Don’t immediately assume you’ve made the wrong choice if there’s some discomfort on first use.
EXPERT TIP

Hard gel separators are typically designed for an average-size foot. Unfortunately, they may provide too much stretch for smaller feet. If your feet are small, soft gel separators are more forgiving and compress for improved comfort.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other products we considered

The ZenToes Toe Separators Four-Pack is a multi-pack of double-toe separators that fit on the second toe. They’re designed to relieve bunion pain and are soft enough to fit in most shoes. 5 Stars United Toe Separators are another double toe separator set that also has a bunion shield for extra cushioning. And finally, Enerfoot Toe Separators are made of soft gel that separates all the toes and cushions the outside of the big toe and ball of the foot.

Children can suffer from the same foot conditions as adults. Double- and triple-toe separators made of soft gel are more flexible and compressed, so they won’t overstretch the toes of little feet.

FAQ

Q. Can I wear a toe separator while exercising?
A.
It depends on the design of the toe separator and your shoes. Double- or triple-toe separators (and a few full-toe designs made of soft gel) can be worn while exercising. For comfort, you may need shoes with extra space in the toe box. Keep in mind that you’ll need to clean these separators more often, and they’ll wear out faster with heavy use.

Q. Can toe separators stop cramps in the toes and foot?
A.
Over time, they stretch and increase muscle and tendon flexibility, which can help with foot and toe cramps. While they may not be a total cure, toe separators can certainly reduce cramping.

Q. How long should I wear a toe separator?
A.
 Some separators are comfortable enough that you can wear them all the time without problem. That’s usually the case with models designed to cushion and relieve pain. Models that are designed to stretch the toes may require a different approach. At first, you may be limited to only 10 minutes before you start to feel uncomfortable. Slowly, you can extend your wearing time. Some people find that an hour a day brings noticeable changes. Others wear a toe separator all night. A little trial and error can help you find what’s right for you.

The team that worked on this review
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Stacey
    Stacey
    Writer

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