For years, Baby Foot was sort of the Big Foot of the beauty world. Although it launched in 1997, even beauty editors — editors right here at Allure — weren’t sure of its existence until well into the first decade of the new millennium. There was an urban-legend quality to it. Magic booties that transform your foot skin into that of a toddler? Could it be?
According to countless fans of the “Original Exfoliation Foot Peel” — it has nearly 25,000 five-star reviews on Amazon — it’s legit. Not only does it exfoliate what is arguably the most stubborn area of skin on the entire body, but it also does so in a way that provides a kind of morbid entertainment over the course of a couple of weeks, letting you watch your dead skin peel off in flaky, white sheets.
As a former kid who put glue on her hands just to peel it off and a long-time beauty editor, it was almost nonsensical that I’d gone this long without trying Baby Foot. But I finally did recently, and I decided to make it an educational experience by also reaching out to a few experts to figure out exactly what makes the extremity-specific exfoliating treatment so much more than just a novelty.
What even is Baby Foot?
Baby Foot is an arguably legendary beauty product and, in the brand’s own words, an “innovative one-hour foot peel treatment [that] is similar to a chemical peel and will make your feet feel smooth and soft, just like a baby’s foot.” But it’s not just similar to a chemical peel. According to cosmetic chemist Ginger King, its main exfoliating ingredients make it exactly that.
“Lactic acid, glycolic acid, malic acid, salicylic acid are common fruit acids for chemical peels,” King says of the exfoliators in Baby Foot. “This is a mix of alpha and beta hydroxy acids.”
According to Stacey Chimento, a board-certified dermatologist with Riverchase Dermatology in Miami, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) primarily exfoliate the skin’s surface while beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) penetrate further into the skin to remove dead skin cells. “When used together, AHAs and BHAs are able to make skin smoother, softer, and more even-toned.”
How does Baby Foot work?
The Baby Foot process isn’t exactly the cutest or most intuitive, as I came to find out the first time I used it. Each pack comes with two transparent, plastic booties — not too hard, not too flexible — that are pre-loaded with the gooey, clear exfoliating formula. You seal them off at the ankles with the included tape, and to ensure that the substance fully surrounds your skin, it’s recommended that you put on your own socks over the booties. (I was going to do this anyway out of fear of slipping on my tile floor. Also, fashion.)
You keep the booties on for an hour, and after washing off the formula with soap and water, you’re treated to… absolutely no change. That’s because it can take several days for the exfoliation to really start kicking in — in a really apparent way.