So is it better to have soft skin rather than hard skin when walking long distances? There seems to be conflicting opinions. Advice a while back was to apply surgical spirit for a couple of weeks before to harden the skin - not that I remembered to do this anyway!
Hard skin, especially thick hard skin is not good, as after some miles it strts to irritate the underlying softer tissue and if walking many miles, without allowing recovery time, deep heel blisters can form (this is my problem). These type of blisters are not caused by friction, but by pressure from the outer hard skin on the softer skin below. They are not only difficult to treat while on the move but mich more painful than sirface blister which are easy to treat with the likes of Compeed etc.
Surgical spirit is good to use on the feet for a couple of weeks before a long walk. The spirit toughens the skin without hardening it. My foot skin especially at the wear areas is already tough, so once I have got rid of the thick hard skin that easily builds up through years of the cycle of blistering and then losing the whole heel, I apply the moisturising cream to prevent the hard skin reforming.