What really happens when you use a foot peel
8th September 2020

We will do all kinds of crazy things in the quest for softer feet — whether it’s blowing a good portion of our disposable income on biweekly pedicures, or submerging our feet into fish tanks, where hungry Garra rufa fish await, ready to snack on the dead skin of our heels. In comparison, spending around $15 for a foot peel seems reasonable. Except, if you’ve ever tried one of the most popular peels, Baby Feet, you might feel like you’re losing your mind when you see sheets of skin fall off your feet days after your treatment. “The peeling began four days after my treatment, and from that point, the sloughing of my skin was fast and furious, shedding in snake-like sheets,” recounted one Baby Foot fan to CNN. It’s a weird experience: one minute, that skin is part of your foot, and the next, it’s lying on the floor like a discarded tissue. So what exactly is in a foot peel?

“Simply put, it’s a product aimed at [removing] calluses, cracks, and thick skin on the feet,” Mona Gohara, M.D., associate professor of clinical dermatology at Yale University, told Shape. By wearing booties filled with an alpha-hydroxy acid gel for one hour, you may shed a year’s worth of calluses. Then indeed, you’ll have feet exactly like a brand new baby who hasn’t yet taken her first step. Except, foot peels don’t always go exactly according to plan. 

Different people have different reactions to foot peels

People who use foot peels find themselves fascinated by the way their skin molts and sheds, like a lizard’s. And since the process can take days or even weeks, it’s a gift that keeps on giving. “You must brace yourself for a lot what I can best describe as an oddly satisfying amount of dead skin peeling off your foot as if it’s grated cheese,” recounted one foot peel enthusiast in Good Housekeeping. “Yes, it’s gross… but also oh-so-satisfying.” Since you don’t know exactly when the shedding will happen, though, suddenly seeing skin fall off your feet can be startling surprise (via SELF). Others, however, only had minimal peeling, even though they followed the instructions to the letter. Still, many users adore the product. Instagram is full of photos of proudly peeled feet and dramatic before-and-after images.

Because the product contains high concentrations of acid, though, not everyone should hop onto the foot peel trend. “I would caution that if you have any warts, corn callouses, open sores, or skin sensitivity, you should definitely skip this,” Margarita Lolis, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey, told Good Housekeeping. Pregnant women should also consult their doctors before use.

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