Feet often have a thankless job -- they carry you from one place to another, help you wait in line for coffee and take you through your exercise regimen, yet they are rarely pampered. As a result, many people have their fair share of calluses, dry patches and cracked skin. Even those who regularly use a pumice stone and foot lotion might find that the forces working against their feet -- dry weather, hot showers and open shoes -- are still greater than the measures they take to combat those forces [sources: Griffin, Mayo Clinic].
It used to be that people turned to complicated measures, such as smearing their feet in petroleum jelly, wrapping them in cellophane and pulling on a pair of socks until morning, if they wanted to have soft, smooth feet. With the rising popularity of moisturizing socks, however, those days might be over. Moisturizing socks are available at specialty stores, department stores and discount retail stores as well as at any number of online retailers. The socks fall into two main categories -- those that you pull on over heavily lotioned feet, and those that come with lotion built in. Which one you choose may depend on your budget, your needs and how much time you want to spend before bed prepping your feet for the morning.
So, if you're thinking about giving moisturizing socks a try, keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of two main types you'll find on the market.
Types of Moisturizing Socks
Two main types of moisturizing socks are currently on the market. The first type is widely available and mimics the tried-and-true method of petroleum jelly plus socks that so many dry-skin sufferers have used. These socks are often made of soft cotton or a combination of cotton and spandex and are designed to be used with some kind of cream or lotion. You rub the cream into your feet and then pull on the socks. Some socks even come with a special foot cream infused with essential oil. Popular scents include lavender, mint and tea tree.
A typical drugstore pair might cost about $6, and specialty spa-style stores could charge $60. Not all of these socks are sold along with a moisturizing product, so you may need to buy that separately. An advantage with this type of sock, though, is that you can choose a different lotion, oil or foot cream each time you wear them.
The other type of moisturizing sock is designed to work without an additional foot cream. The moisturizing ingredients -- typically avocado oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, vitamin E and jojoba -- are contained in a polymer gel that comes in the sock itself. The advantage of these socks is their convenience: You don't need to deal with applying creams or lotions or worry about purchasing one separately. However, you do need to treat these socks with care to get the most use out of them. Most require hand washing, and because they already contain the moisturizing ingredients, they will run out of these ingredients after several uses. This type of moisturizing sock ranges from about $20 to $50.
Read on for tips on how to get the most out of moisturizing socks.
Using Moisturizing Socks
Once you've selected the right sock, here's a quick how-to on using them to their fullest advantage.
First, wash your feet using lukewarm water and a soap-free cleanser to avoid drying out the skin. Use a pumice stone or exfoliating scrub to clear off some of the dry, callused skin on the heels and soles of your feet. This will help the moisturizing ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin. Rinse and pat your feet dry instead of rubbing them with the towel, which could remove too much moisture.
Next, apply moisturizing lotion, cream or oil. If you are using a gel-type moisturizing sock, you may skip this step. Apply the moisturizer as soon as you can -- preferably within three minutes of drying off -- to seal in as much moisture as possible. If you struggle with athlete's foot, you may want to avoid getting moisturizer in between your toes [source: FootSmart].
Leave the socks on for however long the directions call for -- usually about 30 to 45 minutes. If you can, leave the socks on longer than that -- even overnight. Some moisturizing socks come with nonslip soles, so you can pamper your feet while you do chores or other work around the house.
If you have very dry skin, using the moisturizing socks on a daily (or nightly) basis might be worth considering. However, once or twice a week is usually adequate for most people, but be sure to pay attention to what the directions call for.
Since many moisturizing products include fragrance, be sure to read the ingredients list closely if you have a special skin condition. Also, as with any moisturizing product, you shouldn't wear the socks if your skin is so dry that it's broken; instead, wait for it to heal before moisturizing.
Keep reading for more information on the next page about dry skin and how moisturizing socks might help.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Divine.ca. "Moisturizing Socks." Aug. 29, 2007. (Accessed Sept. 9, 2009)http://www.divine.ca/en/health-and-wellness/editors-picks/c_78_i_3070/moisturizing-socks-1.html
- FootSmart. "Dry Skin." (Accessed Sept. 9, 2009)http://www.footsmart.com/HealthCondition.aspx?ailmentId=114
- Griffin, R. Morgan. "What's Causing Your Dry Skin Problem?" WebMD. March 6, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 9, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/whats-causing-your-dry-skin-problem
- Mayo Clinic. "Dry Skin: Lifestyle and Home Remedies." Nov. 26, 2008. (Accessed Sept. 23, 2009)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dry-skin/DS00560/DSECTION=lifestyle-and-home-remedies
- Polymer Technology. "Common Polymers." April 9, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 9, 2009)http://polymer.w99of.com/?page_id=19&wscr=1920x1200
- Research and Markets. "Superabsorbent Polymers: From Diapers to Crops of the Future." October 2006. (Accessed Sept. 9, 2009)http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/354912