How Foot Peels Work, And Why Now Is A Great Time To Try One

Baby Foot and other peel-off foot masks make your feet look gross for weeks. Now's the perfect time to get rid of those calluses.

Living in a world of uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic, something as simple as a grossly fascinating foot peel can encourage you to be present, giving you the power to control something on a micro level. It forces you to create a nightly ritual of soaking your feet for a week, which is mandatory for achieving the ultra-cringeworthy results seen on YouTube and Instagram.

I personally have ignored the siren song of the mythical foot peel because I knew from reading reviews that I would have to wear the mask for a couple hours and soak my feet every night for a week. Who has the time for that?

Apparently, we all do now.

What is a foot peel and how does it work?

It’s a chemical peel for your feet that sheds layers of skin over time in quite an ugly manner, to be frank. A kit comes with liquid-saturated booties (they’ll remind you of a sheet mask) that you wear for up to a couple hours, depending on the brand you use. Baby Foot was the first popular foot peel to hit the market in 1997, and it now has almost 14,000 reviews on Amazon.

It’s different for everyone, but expect to start molting three to five days post peel.
Tatiana via Getty Images
It’s different for everyone, but expect to start molting three to five days post peel.

How does a foot peel work?

It’s all about a combination of acids that’ll break down your dead skin, according to Chris G. Adigun, a board-certified dermatologist based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “Alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic, lactic, citric and malic acids prevent the top layer of the epidermis from sticking together,” she said. “Beta hydroxy acids like salicylic acid work to dissolve the adhesive holding thickened skin cells together.”

Are foot peels safe?

For the most part, yes, but Adigun cautioned they may not be appropriate for everyone. “They are generally safe and effective, but if you have a history of diabetes, contact your physician first. And if you have open wounds on your feet, I recommend delaying the peel.” Adigun also said if you’re pregnant you should hold off until you speak with your obstetrician.

How should I prepare my feet for the peel?

Remove nail polish and wash feet with soap and water. Then soak the feet prior to doing the peel for at least 30 minutes.

What should I expect while I’m doing the peel?

Your feet will slip around in the booties, so put socks over the booties if you need to walk around. Depending on which peel you choose, you will keep the booties on for one to two hours.

What should I do post peel?

Soak. Soak. Soak. The key to getting skin-coming-off-in-sheets results is soaking every night for a week.

When will I see results?

It’s different for everyone, though expect to start molting three to five days post peel. On the fourth night of soaking, I finally got what I had been waiting for ― my first sheet of dead skin peeled off in slow motion. Though Adigun warned me not to “manually detach the shedding skin” because the skin is supposed to peeI naturally, there was zero chance I was following that advice. I’m a peeler and a picker. It’s in my DNA.

How long will my feet be a freak show?

Give yourself at least two weeks post peel before walking the dog in flip-flops. And if shedding a trail of dead skin isn’t enough incentive to skip the sandals, your feet will be super sun-sensitive, so wear sunscreen of at least SPF 30.

Do I really need a foot peel?

Need is a strong word. Were my feet softer after the peel? Kind of. The tops of my feet were like a newborn, but the stubborn callous was just softened like after a good pedicure. For me, it was more about the journey than the destination. I loved the ritual of soaking my feet in warm Epsom-salted water every night, and yes, I peeled with abandon every night and I don’t regret a flake of it. My feet were unharmed and there was something cathartic about shedding skin.

Foot Peels To Try

The Powerful OG from Japan

Baby Foot

A luxurious option with a slew of fruit acids


A natural foot mask infused with tea tree oil and other botanicals

Earth Theraputics

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