As someone who’s been using the cult-favorite Baby Foot peel for years, I would be remiss not to shout from the rooftops that now is the perfect time to hop on the bandwagon if you haven’t already. Sure, we might not have an immediate need for supersmooth, soft feet (it’s not like we’re going to the beach anytime soon, sigh), but with everything going on, this freakishly effective skin exfoliating foot peel is a welcome dose of self-care.
Before I go any further, though, some background: For those who haven’t heard of Baby Foot ($ 25, babyfoot.com), it’s an exfoliating foot peel that comes in the form of plastic booties. Inside the booties is a gel that claims to soothe hard, dry, and cracked feet, as well as improve foot odor and fungus. By now the foot mask has become a cult favorite for drastically sloughing off dead skin to reveal the baby-smooth feet beneath (hence the name).
Which brings me back to why now is the perfect time to indulge in this gratifying foot-peeling ritual. There’s not a lot to look forward to amid a pandemic, so waking up each day feeling morbidly curious to check on the progress of your peeling feet can make a small but impactful difference. It might sound silly, but it has spiced up my mundane quarantine. I’m not the only one who thinks so, either. The Baby Foot peel is currently sold out at a few retailers because tons of people are trying out new beauty routines in quarantine or just looking to do self-care at home. Luckily, though, there are a few dupes out there, including ones I’ve tried and loved. You can check them out below.
First, though, let’s talk logistics and revisit the perennial popularity of Baby Foot with some reviews from former staffers who tried it and loved it.
How do the Baby Foot peel and similar products work?
It’s important to understand how and why Baby Foot works. So SELF talked to Lifestyle Podiatry podiatrist Dennis Shavelson, D.P.M., to find out why this product has such a dramatic outcome. He explained that the gel inside the bootie contains salicylic acid and alpha hydroxy acids (like citric, glycolic, and lactic). Chemical exfoliants like these break down the fibers that bind the dead skin cells together (called desmosomes). Together, these chemicals break up the dead skin cells so the skin can easily peel away on the surface.
There are a few things you want to be aware of health-wise before diving into this chemical peel treatment. The label warns against using this on babies (they already have “baby feet”). If you’re pregnant, consider consulting your doctor before use just to make sure it’s okay for you. Also, if you have any foot issues like wounds, heel problems, open sores, or infections, you shouldn’t use this. Shavelson also recommends that those who are diabetic or have poor circulation should consult a doctor before using this product.
You should also be aware of allergies before using an exfoliating foot peel. An allergic reaction to the ingredients could result in soreness, itching, redness, and blistering. Shavelson compared it to a reaction to poison ivy. If you do have a reaction, you should consult a professional or get medical attention IRL (for more information on how to get treatment for a non-coronavirus health emergency, read this article).
Ready to use the Baby Foot peel? Here’s how.
Before you slip your feet into the booties, the package recommends you first soak your feet. Then you cut open the boots, slip both your feet in, and tape them up. In my experience, the tape isn’t the greatest at holding the plastic bootie together, so I tend to either sit in the same place for the whole 60-minute treatment (like while I’m working) or put socks on over the booties to hold them in place. Even then, you’re not going to be doing a ton of walking around either way—the socks keep the booties secure but your feet still slip and slide around in the gel.
After the hour is up, gently wash your feet. From there, it’s just a waiting game as Baby Foot works its magic and your skin starts to shed. Peeling your feet as you go is okay as the dead skin starts to detach, but Baby Foot recommends only removing what comes off easily—don’t pull off any skin before it’s ready (even if it is satisfying).
Now that you know the Baby Foot basics, here’s how it turned out for each editor.
1. “I started seeing major pieces of skin start to peel.”
The expectations: I exfoliate my feet regularly, once every three weeks or so. So I figured that I would have already exfoliated away most of my dead skin from the bottom of my feet. But when I turned my feet over to shoot “before” pictures I noticed they were really dry and cracked in certain areas, especially (like most people) the heel and ball.
The results: At first nothing was happening. Like, seriously, nothing. My feet maybe felt a little drier than usual and more sensitive. But when nothing significant was happening by morning of day three, I was starting to get nervous I did it wrong. But when I was watching Stranger Things that night, I pulled my foot up to my thigh on the couch and WHOA! I started seeing major pieces of skin start to peel on the balls of my feet and heels. The next day I was walking around in my loafers all day. By the end of the day, I thought there was something in my shoes. But it was just pieces of balled up dead skin.
Once I hit the one-week mark, I expected it to be pretty much finished. However, my family was confused and disgusted when they kept finding flakes of skin around. By day nine the bottom of my feet were pretty much all finished, but the peeling moved from the bottom of my feet up around the sides to the tops of my feet. Then the tops of my feet shed in smaller, drier pieces. This continued until day 12! From my toes up to around my ankles was peel-central. After they finally stopped peeling, my feet did feel incredibly soft. There were no rough patches or any dry areas. Is it as dramatic as they say? Yes! And two weeks later my soles are still baby soft. —Emily Rekstis
2. “My feet were left looking and feeling supersoft.”
The expectations: Full disclosure: I’ve done this before, and I loved it so much that I insisted on doing it again for this article. Baby Foot is absolutely disgusting and also a load of fun.
The results: It took about six days from application for my feet to start peeling, and then things got very gross very quickly. I tried not to help things along by peeling by hand, but I truly couldn’t help it. I also regularly soaked and physically exfoliated my feet to make sure I was getting the most out of Baby Foot!
I wore socks literally all the time to stop my vile feet from shedding all over my home. Luckily no one seemed to question my sartorial choices. It took about nine days for the skin peeling to stop entirely, and my feet were left looking and feeling supersoft. —Nina Bahadur
3. “I only saw light peeling.”
The expectations: I had never heard of Baby Foot before, but once I found out it could get rid of my calluses, I was in. I have rough spots on the outside of my big toe, the ball, and heels of my feet due to the rubbing that comes with running and working out. Average pedicures aren’t harsh enough to remove the thick skin in these areas, so I hoped this would help.
The results: At first my skin hardened in the trouble areas, but it didn’t really peel. One day I noticed some of the skin exfoliating and flaking off. But other than that, I only saw light peeling throughout the sides of my feet and minimal flaking on the top—nothing drastic or alarming. It all happened over nine days and didn’t really diminish my calluses or trouble areas. —Emily Abbate
4. “Baby Foot really worked like everyone says.”
The expectations: I had heard about Baby Foot before but never tried it because it was never the right time. I was afraid that my feet would be peeling in the middle of summer, so I was trying to hold out until the winter when I could hide the peeling in my boots. But honestly my heels were in need of some serious TLC. Even after getting pedicures, it seemed like my heels always remained powdery white and thick.
The results: It took a full week for my feet to start flaking. I was on a phone call and I saw skin hanging from the bottom of my foot. For the next week the bottoms of my feet were slowly coming off in small sections. So much so that I started wearing socks as often as possible to keep myself from picking at the skin. I couldn’t stop peeling it away piece by piece. And when I got in the shower, even more would rub off.
Then, once my soles were soft and new, the tops of my feet started to rub off as well. And while it was easy to hide the dead skin on the bottom of my feet, I got a lot of questions about what looked like a skin infection on the top of my foot. After three weeks total, the process was finally over. Baby Foot really worked like everyone says, but I kind of miss my calluses. —Jessica Cruel
5. “It was very satisfying when big sheets of skin came off.”
The expectations: My beauty editor friend told me about it. She said you let your feet soak in these booties for an hour, and within a few days your dead skin comes off in sheets. I’m looking forward to a really satisfying, post-pedicure result. I’m hoping it will leave my feet smooth, soft, and less beaten for a longer period of time than if I had just used a foot cream.
The results: Before the peeling started, my feet were dry and rough. They started to slightly peel on day three but with a lot of help on my end (I was pulling at the skin a bit—okay, a lot). It didn’t hurt, and I could hardly notice anything was happening unless I looked down and saw the pieces of skin everywhere. It wasn’t as visible and drastic as I was expecting, but it was very satisfying when big sheets of skin came off. It kind of felt like I let a lot of Elmer’s glue dry on my feet and then I peeled it off.
My roommate did notice the pieces on the floor, but she didn’t know what they were exactly. I was quick to vacuum them up before she could ask any more questions. All in all it took about two weeks for the whole process. It looks nasty at times but feels amazing. Most of the action happened around the thicker areas, like the bottoms of my feet, heels, and the sides. As a whole, my feet are much softer and the calluses are all gone. I’d absolutely recommend this treatment to others. —Elyse Roth
Additional reporting by Emily Rekstis.