Why are my feet so dry?

Dry soles are the dandruff of the feet (you can quote us on that one); it’s annoying, embarrassing and frustrating, but also incredibly common. Our feet actually have fewer oil glands than elsewhere on the body. Combine that with a lack of proper care—and the daily injustices that feet are subjected to—and dry skin is almost inevitable. If you’re experiencing rough, dry, tight skin or cracked heels, don’t worry, we’re here to break down the major causes and solutions so you can get back to your smoothest self in an instant.


Cause: Exposure to the Elements

Walking around in sandals or strolling barefoot feels amazing, but while your toes are enjoying the fresh air, your skin might not be feeling it. Whether it's a hot, humid summer or a cold, dry winter, exposure to natural elements can strip your skin of the limited moisture it’s holding onto¹ (and actually lead to additional problems like sunburn, frostbite and irritation).

Solution: Treat your feet like your face and body. If you know that your feet are going to be exposed, ensure that you regularly reapply a quality SPF while you’re outside (even in the winter). Once your feet have enjoyed their moment outdoors, cleanse and exfoliate with Pure Grit™ before replenishing the lost moisture with High Dive™. For an overnight hydration boost, Sleep On It™ has you covered.


Cause: Hot Water (Water in General Actually)

You might think that water is good for hydrating your skin and while that’s true of drinking plenty of water, too much water on your skin can actually have a dehydrating effect. Spending a long time in the bath or shower can strip the natural oils from your skin and can leave it feeling rough, flakey and dry. Water that’s too hot simply adds to the issue, sapping moisture by causing your feet to sweat.

Solution: Thankfully this one is pretty simple. All you need to do is limit your time in the bath or shower and use lukewarm instead of hot water. If you simply can’t live without lounging in the tub (and we completely understand why), you can add ingredients from your home to the water to limit its stripping effects. The addition of ½ a cup of pure honey or a ¼ cup of olive oil can help to naturally moisturize and soften skin while you soak.


Cause: Excessive Sweating

As mentioned above, hot water causes your skin to lose moisture much faster than lukewarm water. The reason? Heat causes you to sweat, which is essentially moisture loss.² That means any activity that causes you to sweat, like working out, could be contributing to dry skin on your feet. If you tend to sweat a lot in normal situations and cooler climates, you might have hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), which can affect your entire body or just one area (like your armpits or feet).

Solution: If you think you might have hyperhidrosis, it’s important to talk to your doctor about treatment options, which may include prescription-strength aluminum chloride solution or specially formulated towelettes to treat your skin. Even if you don’t have hyperhidrosis, it’s important to cleanse and restore moisture to your skin after anything that makes you sweat. For an easy fix, swipe Clean Slate™ over your feet to deeply cleanse, soothe and hydrate, before massaging High Dive™ into your skin to replenish moisture and lock it in.


Cause: The Wrong Footwear

Fashion lovers, this one’s for you! Wearing shoes that don’t provide adequate support, are the wrong size, don’t let feet breathe or rub against your skin can trigger dryness or make an existing problem even worse. Unsupportive shoes put constant pressure on certain areas of the foot and even allow fat under your heels to expand and crack. The result is skin that becomes dry, callused and rough. Likewise, shoes that rub cause friction on the skin, leading to blisters, irritation and dryness.

Solution: Look for shoes with adequate support, breathable materials and ensure you’re wearing the correct size. If you find that your shoes continue to irritate (or if you have uncomfortable shoes that you just have to wear), PreHeels+® is the answer to your problems. PreHeels+® forms an invisible barrier on your skin that stops shoes from rubbing, preventing blisters and irritation before it even begins.


Cause: Eczema & Psoriasis

Skin conditions that cause redness, dry skin, itchiness and patchiness that come and go in flare ups, eczema and psoriasis can be incredibly frustrating to deal with. The causes of both conditions remain unknown, but it’s believed that genetic factors and immunity issues play a major role.

Solution: If you believe you have eczema and/or psoriasis, it’s important to visit a dermatologist for diagnosis. Skin conditions can have many overlapping symptoms and only a qualified professional will be able to advise on the correct course of treatment.


Cause: The Wrong Products (or no Products at All)

As mentioned above, water washes away your skin’s natural oils, essentially causing dryness and dehydration. This issue can be made even worse if you’re using products containing harsh chemicals, which pull even more moisture from the skin, causing it to feel tight and dry.

Solution: Ensure that you always wash your feet in the bath or shower with products that are formulated to be skin-friendly. All Barefoot Scientist products are hypoallergenic, dermatologist tested and free of phthalates and parabens, so you know you’re getting the good stuff. For a full hydrating foot treatment, we recommend our Smooth Operator and Pamper Me sets, which gently exfoliate before intensely moisturizing for soft, smooth skin.


Cause: Athlete’s Foot

A fungal infection that causes a red, scaly rash, burning, peeling and dryness, Athlete’s Foot is very common and incredibly contagious.³ Since the fungus thrives in moisture and warmth, it’s commonly picked up in locker rooms and communal showers. Sharing shoes or socks is also a no-no as it can allow the fungus to pass from one person to another.

Solution: Athlete’s Foot is easy to prevent by keeping feet clean and dry as much as possible. It’s also important to wear flip-flops in public places. If you end up with Athlete’s Foot, there are plenty of powerful over-the-counter antifungal medications that should clear it up. If that doesn’t work, a visit to the doctor may be in order for an even stronger medication.

If dry skin is making your feet unhappy, discover our hyper hydrating moisturizer and much more at barefootscientist.com now.


  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/cracked-heel-heal#remedies
  2. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a19969330/7-reasons-your-feet-are-peeling-like-crazy/
  3. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/uk/beauty/skin/a706751/dry-feet-how-to-get-rid-of-hard-skin-on-feet/