If your feet are prone to dry skin and calluses, keeping them soft and smooth is a constant struggle. I should know—I tried countless foot creams, foot files, salon pedicures and even high-tech buffing gadgets to keep the rough, dead skin at bay.
But then I heard about Baby Foot from a fellow beauty editor. This was back when Asian beauty products were first becoming popular in the West, and there was nothing else like it. When I found out it made your dead skin shed off like a snake, it sounded gross, yes—but I also couldn’t wait to try it.
Fast-forward to the present, and I’m still Baby Foot-ing a few times a year as my foot maintenance product of choice.
In this review, I’m sharing how it works, how to use it and what results you can expect (including my very own Baby Foot before and after). Look away now if you're grossed out by feet!
What Is Baby Foot?
Baby Foot is a chemical peel for your feet. A very strong chemical peel.
It was first created in 1997 in Tokyo, Japan, as a way for people to effectively treat concerns like dryness, built-up dead skin and cracked soles, without having to rely on professional pedicures. In 2012, it became available in North America, and as of 2021, more than 21 million peels have been sold worldwide!
The formula has the consistency of a gel, and comes pre-filled inside a set of disposable plastic booties (a.k.a. “sock packs”) for you to wear. That way, the booties can keep it in contact with your skin for maximum absorption. They’re kind of like sheet masks for your feet, except you’re exfoliating instead of hydrating.
You’re meant to wear the gel-filled booties for one hour, after which you wash off the solution, and then wait for magic to happen. Within a few days, your feet should start peeling, leaving you with the soft, smooth feet of a baby (hence the name!).
Who should try Baby Foot? Anyone who experiences dry, rough skin on their soles, heels or toes. This dead skin can easily accumulate due to pressure and friction from standing, exercising or even wearing certain shoes.
How Does Baby Foot Work?
Unlike other foot treatments, which require daily product applications or buffing sessions, Baby Foot is something that you only need to use every few months. It’s that intense, thanks to its high concentration of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), alcohol and botanical extracts.
Here’s a look at the ingredients (none of which were tested on animals, since the brand is cruelty-free):
Aqua (Water), Alcohol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Arginine, Parfum, Butylene Glycol, Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Glucose, O-Cymen-5-Ol, Citric Acid, Malic Acid (Apple), Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil (Camel Grass), Nasturtium Officinale Extract (Watercress), Arctium Lappa Root Extract (Burdock Root), Saponaria Officinalis Leaf Extract (Soapwort), Hedera Helix (Ivy) Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Citrus (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Clematis Vitalba Leaf Extract (Clematis), Spiraea Ulmaria Extract (Meadowsweet), Equisetum Arvense Extract (Horsetail Herb), Fucus Vesiculosus Extract (Bladderwrack), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (Chamomile), Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (Tea Plant), Houttuynia Cordata Extract (Chameleon), Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Salicylic Acid, Sodium Nitrate, Glyoxal, Disodium Phosphate, Linalool, Limonene.
It is the four acids—lactic, glycolic, malic and salicylic—that do the heavy-lifting here. Together, they break up the bonds between dead skin cells, which encourages the layers of old, rough skin to readily peel off. The alcohol acts as a penetration enhancer as well as a skin-softener, which makes those built-up layers even easier to remove.
Why does Baby Foot cause such dramatic shedding compared to other acid exfoliants? While the brand doesn’t disclose the percentages of the acids, it’s safe to assume they are present in much higher amounts than you’d find in products for your face. The soles of our feet have thicker skin than anywhere else on the body, so they can tolerate a higher level of exfoliation.
(By the way, please don’t be tempted to use this solution on your face—you’re bound to get extreme irritation or even a chemical burn!)
How to Use Baby Foot
Using Baby Foot is simple—you just need about 1.5 hours to prepare for and then apply the peel.
Each box comes with instructions, but they can be a bit confusing, so I’m going to walk you through them here. Before you start, you may want to remove any nail polish you’re wearing, because the acids will destroy the shine and make it look dull.
1. Soak Your Feet
Before you open the sealed pouch that contains your acid-loaded booties, you need to soak your feet. I fill my tub with a few inches of warm water and then sit my feet in it for a good 15 to 20 minutes. The idea is to soften the dead skin, so the gel can penetrate more effectively. Amongst Baby Foot devotees on the Internet, this pre-soak step is the key to an effective peel.
(Weirdly, Baby Foot’s instructions fail to mention this until step two, after they've already told you to put on the booties. Then, the instructions are like, by the way: “We recommend taking a footbath to enhance the effects BEFORE and AFTER using this product.” So don’t make the mistake I did of reading step one and thinking the Baby Foot scientists had suddenly determined soaking was no longer necessary—it is.)
2. Prepare the Booties
After you’ve finished soaking and drying your feet, you’re ready to pop on these bad boys. So go ahead and open the sealed pouch.
Inside, you’ll find one pair of plastic booties, which are for one-time use only. (Not pictured: the peel-off adhesives that you’ll use to secure them around your ankles.)
The tops of the booties come sealed, in order to prevent the gel from leaking out. To put your feet in, you’ll need to cut along the dotted lines to open them up.
3. Wear the Booties for One Hour
Now you’re ready to stick one foot in each bootie. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt or sting, despite all the acids.
To keep the gel in place, secure the booties snugly around your ankles with the enclosed adhesives. (If you can’t find them, just use regular tape.) Since the booties are designed to accommodate up to a size 12 foot, they can be a little loose, so I like to put a pair of socks on over top, to make them fit tightly.
Also, don’t do what I’m doing here, which is sticking my foot up in the air. You want your feet to be down on the ground, so the acid is pooling under your soles—not working on the tops of your feet, where there’s no dead skin to target.
4. Wash Your Feet
After one hour has passed, remove the booties and wash your feet thoroughly with soap and water.
5. Avoid Foot Creams and Soak Your Feet Daily
Avoid using foot creams or lotions until your feet have finished peeling, which can take up to two weeks—otherwise it won’t be as effective. (If your feet get really dry, the brand says it’s okay to apply an oil-free lotion “from time to time,” but I’d try not to if possible.)
For best results, you should also try to soak your feet daily. According to Baby Foot, the water is essential to activate the peeling process.
How Long Does Baby Foot Take to Work?
You won’t notice a result from Baby Foot right away after applying the peel. It can take anywhere from three to seven days for your skin to start shedding.
And boy, does it shed! As you can see above, the dead skin literally comes off in sheets—which is equal parts horrifying and life-changing.
You just need to be patient and let it happen. I can still remember the first time I did this, and I was convinced it did nothing. Four days passed, and if anything, my feet were looking worse: much drier and more callused than before. “Damn you, Baby Foot,” I was thinking. Then, a day later, I was taking off a pair of tights when much to my alarm, a whole bunch of flakes fell out on the floor. Foot flakes. I was repulsed but elated.
The grotesque sloughing-off process can continue for up to two weeks, so you will definitely need to change your sheets and vacuum frequently. It’s annoying but worth it, because a pair of soft, smooth and yes, baby-like feet will finally emerge.
Does Baby Foot Work?
This is what my feet looked like during the Baby Foot peeling process, and after.
I was well overdue for a peel before this session, so I’m pretty darn impressed! I still have some callused skin in a few spots because I over-pronate (roll inward) when I walk. I could repeat the treatment in a month to work on them some more, but it’s never going to be a permanent solution.
Still, it’s one that I am extremely happy with! Since Baby Foot is only removing dead skin, not living tissue, it is not traumatizing the skin in any way or encouraging calluses to build up faster. Not only is it more effective than any other treatment I’ve tried, it also way easier than filing, and cheaper than a pedicure.
The only catch? You need to do Baby Foot when your feet are going to be under wraps (like during the winter). Sheets of dead skin falling off your feet just doesn’t go well with sandals, you know?
Is Baby Foot Safe?
For most people, Baby Foot is safe—as long as you use it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Here are some frequently asked questions:
- Who should NOT use Baby Foot? You should avoid this peel if you have open cuts or sores, warts, corns or any skin disease affecting the soles of your feet. Also steer clear if you have diabetes or an immune deficiency. People with very sensitive skin may find the strong acids too irritating. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor.
- Can you leave Baby Foot on longer than one hour? The instructions suggest one hour—any longer and you’re taking a risk. A lot of Baby Foot reviewers recommend two hours, but I found this way too irritating on the tops of my feet. The skin is thinner there, and became uncomfortably dry and itchy for several days afterward. I think two hours is too long to be in contact with the acid!
- Can you speed up the process by peeling off skin with your fingers or a foot file? It’s tempting to want to “help” the peeling process along, but this isn’t a good idea because you could remove skin before it’s ready. Instead, the brand recommends gently rubbing your feet with your hands after bathing.
- How often can you use Baby Foot? If your feet have a lot of dry skin build-up, you can do a second round after four weeks. For maintenance, use Baby Foot once every two months.
- Did I buy a fake Baby Foot? If you didn’t get results, it’s possible that you purchased a counterfeit product. Make sure the packaging says Baby Foot (not “Baby Feet”) and that the contents match the photos here. Otherwise, the peel could be ineffective or even harmful.
Where to Buy Baby Foot + Dupes
Looking for alternatives? You’re in luck. Although I haven’t tried them all, these are the closest dupes I’ve found, which contain similar ingredients:
- Boscia Fruit Acid Smoothing Foot Peel
- Patchology PoshPeel Pedi Cure
- Starskin Magic Hour Exfoliating Double-Layer Foot Mask Socks
- Tony Moly Foot Changing Magic Peeling Shoes
- Kokostar Foot Therapy
- Grace & Stella Dr. Pedicure Foot Exfoliating Mask
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