When it comes to what we treasure, people fall into two camps. Those of us who feel that bedrooms are sanctuaries, birthday cards are heirlooms, and feet should be pampered — and those of us who don’t. I’m in the second camp. My bed is my office, birthday cards are kindling, and my feet are utilitarian. Ninety-minute pedicures in which your barking dogs are dipped in rose nectar and then dried by cotton pads don’t appeal. (Who has the time!) Which is not to say I don’t want my feet clean, groomed, and supple — I do. I always want job-interview feet, first-date feet, feet that can be bare at a friend’s house without any jump of existential nervousness.
Almost a decade as a beauty editor has confirmed for me that, happily, dermatologists and most nail aestheticians are on my side. The single most important ingredient in an effective foot cream isn’t anything cooling, anti-bacterial, or anti-inflammatory. Besides heavy-duty hydrators, the best foot creams also contain chemical exfoliants — lactic acid, urea, salicylic acid — that loosen the bonds between ossified dead skin cells, allowing them to gently slough away. The best contender I’ve found for this job? CeraVe Renewing SA Cream, which itself was developed with dermatologists and contains both exfoliant salicylic acid (that’s what the SA stands for) and ammonium lactate in the first ten ingredients, meaning the concentrations are significant, not an afterthought.