What Really Happens to Your Skin When You Use Baby Foot Exfoliating Peel

Baby Foot helps to exfoliate and moisturize your feet through a, well, pretty crazy-looking peel.

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Photo: grinvalds/Getty Images/Baby Foot.

It's rare that a foot product gains cult status in the skin-care world (they typically aren't as exciting as say, a really great retinol serum or vitamin C anti-ager). The Baby Foot Exfoliating Treatment ($15; dermstore.com) is an exception. The at-home treatment is essentially a chemical peel for your feet-and takes just 15 minutes and around $15 for crazy-good results.

"Simply put, it's a product aimed at [removing] calluses, cracks, and thick skin on the feet," says Mona Gohara, M.D., associate professor of clinical dermatology at Yale University. (Like, years' worth of calluses.) And while the end result is exactly as the name suggests-you'll have baby-soft-like feet-the treatment itself is, well, a bit of a process.

Here's exactly what happens when you use Baby Foot, and dermatologist-approved instructions, too.

First, make sure Baby Foot is safe for you.

Because Baby Foot is composed of several acids that are responsible for the chemical exfoliation, Dr. Gohara says that for "someone who is expecting, or who has sensitive skin, a history of diabetes, or infections, this kind of exfoliation may not be such a good idea." If you're unsure of the potential risks any kind of skin-care product will pose, always consult with your doctor first.

Step 1. Prep by washing your feet with soap and water.

A good sudsing does more than remove surface dirt, says Dr. Gohara. "Washing the feet helps to loosen dead skin cells, eliminate unwelcome microbes, and dissipate funk." Reach for a bar of natural soap that's made using things like tea tree oil, which is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory, such as Defense Soap ($13 for 2; amazon.com), which also has invigorating eucalyptus essential oil.

Step 2. Pull those booties on and chill.

Open up your package and slip on the plastic booties, which are pre-filled with fruit acids and alcohol. "The fruit acids slowly dissolve the skin cells," explains Ginger King, a cosmetic chemist in New Jersey. Specifically, there are both AHAs and BHAs in the formula, including lactic acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid, says King. And because of their potency, when applying, ensure that the liquid is evenly spread within the booties, akin to the way you would a serum with a facial sheet mask. While the brand's website claims that the product works in 10 to 15 minutes, Dr. Gohara recommends wearing for an hour-or until you feel a kind of discomfort. (I personally like to wear grippy socks over the booties to hug the formula to my feet-and to not slip while walking around.)

Step 3. Rinse, dry, and wait.

When time's up, rinse and thoroughly dry your feet. Don't reach for a foot cream immediately, because otherwise the exfoliation process will be stymied.

In a few days, your feet will start to peel. A lot.

The timetable, though, is dependent on your individual skin: Peeling usually begins within three or four days, but could be as long as 14. To speed up the process, soak your feet daily to help loosen the now-dead skin. You can use a bucket, basin, or bathtub. Or, if you want to create a spa-like treatment, invest in a little foot bath for your home, like the Conair Foot Spa With Bubbles and Heat ($35; conair-store.com), plus a quality soak such as Kniepp Calendula and Orange Mineral Foot Bath Salt ($15; kniepp.com), both of which aid in further exfoliation.

If you're curious to see what the peeling process looks like, consider this your final warning-the results, while intense, are less than visually palatable. Check out Baby Foot's Facebook page to see all kinds of results from customers across the globe. Some people are fully obsessed with the peeling.

Step 4. Moisturize and maintain your baby-soft feet.

After two weeks' time, your feet will be much smoother-but upkeep is key. A Baby Foot treatment generally results in "a massive shed-I'm talking like sheets of skin," says Dr. Gohara. "But you're left with smooth feet that are almost like brand-new." Moisturizing your feet is important, but wait until feet are done peeling completely. If you absolutely feel like you need a foot cream, the folks at Baby Foot recommend using an oil-free one as to not affect the exfoliating process.

Once your feet have finished peeling, moisturization is the key to maintaining that baby-soft feel, says King. There are a slew of different foot balms, creams, and masks (even Baby Foot has one) that are chockfull of hydrating ingredients to minimize callusing and dead skin cell build-up. Try Sol de Janiero Samba 2-Step Foot Fetish Care ($27; soldejaniero.com). Included are both a file for calluses and a delicious smelling cream that's spiked with Brazilian cupuaçu butter-a local ingredient that's chockfull of fatty acids to simultaneously hydrate and create a barrier for the skin.

Wanna do a Baby Foot peel again? Give your feet at least two weeks, but ideally, two months, says Dr. Gohara.

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