If feet gross you out, skip this post.
As I peeled the skin off the arch of my foot, its texture reminded me of plastic wrap. Only it was softer and made a slightly different ripping sound as I separated it from the pink flesh underneath.
My boyfriend was not nearly as amused as I was.
But let’s put my dermatillomania on the shelf for a minute. I was pulling such pleasingly large sheets of skin from my feet because a few days earlier I had wrapped them in plastic baggies full of a cold, slimy blend of fruit acids that smelled a little bit like dog shampoo. The baggies came from a beauty product called Baby Foot, that has been popular in Japan for several years but has only become popular in the U.S. recently, in part thanks to an xoJane article with a similar title
The product promises that it will cause all the rough, calloused, scaly skin to fall off the soles of your feet in the process of about a week. It doesn’t hurt and there’s no bleeding or blisters. The peeling is either delightful or revolting, depending on your neurotic predilections.
The key player is alpha hydroxy acid, which is any acid derived from the sugar of fruit or milk. AHA is usually the ingredient in skin cream that makes it necessary to put on sunscreen or a hat before going outside. It makes the skin more vulnerable to ultraviolet light according to the FDA. But when it comes to the skin on your feet, there’s not much worry about sun exposure. Just don’t wear sandals for a few weeks.
According to Baby Foot’s website, AHA breaks down the connective tissues between
layers of dead skin called desmosomes. Sounds like it could be marketing, but I scanned the literature and found that indeed dermatologists do think that AHA works in that way. But AHA is in tons of beauty products and people aren’t constantly peeling the skin off their faces and hands, so what makes Baby Foot do its thing?
Unfortunately the manufacturer doesn’t list the concentrations of AHA on their list of ingredients, but concentration does come into play. The FDA says that the concentration of AHA in any product cannot exceed 10% or have a pH of less than 3.5. My guess is that Baby Foot hits right at those limits.
So did it work? Kind of. My skin definitely peeled, but I wouldn’t say that afterwards I was blown away by the softness of my feet. The ridged callouses on the inside edges
of my heels and the ball of my big toe were still there, though somewhat softened. The ball of my foot was noticeably softer, though. The instruction manual said that soaking your feet every night during the peeling would help the process. Perhaps it would even make it work better, so next time I’ll be trying that.
On the other hand, I also spent quite some time on youtube watching videos of people in Japan pulling the skin off their feet. It seemed to work a lot better for them. Japan’s English-language website for their ministry of health, labor, and welfare unfortunately didn’t yield any useful results for me. But I wonder if Japan allows for greater concentrations of lower pH’s for the alpha hydroxy acids in their products, which perhaps leads to better peeling.
Or maybe I just have crazy-robust desmosomes.
For now though, I guess I’ll just have to learn to love my calloused feet. Or import the Baby Foot straight from Japan.