It was somewhat of a spiritual awakening.

By Claudia Fisher
Updated Apr 21, 2020 @ 10:45 am
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If there’s one thing we have a lot of time for these days, it’s self-care. With all non-essential businesses closed, we’ve had to learn how to DIY our own manicures, find hacks for covering our roots, and carve space out of our cramped living rooms to work out. After mastering the skills necessary to maintain our wellness and beauty routines, we’ve still had time left over for extras, like expanding our skincare regimens and experimenting with new skincare masks and treatments — which is how I found my feet squishing around in plastic socks last week.

My feet are far from attractive. In fact, the last time my sister saw them — confidentiality laid bare in what I erroneously assumed was a safe space — she said, “you really are such a gremlin in some ways.” (Yes, she’s older). Honestly, I never gave much thought to my feet. Pre-coronavirus, I would get pedicures semi-regularly, wear closed-toed shoes most days anyway, and that was that. This changed, however, one fateful quarantine evening, when the drugstore near my apartment smartly flanked its checkout line with options for “last-minute buys.” There it was: a foot peel calling to me as I neared the register. As a true sucker for this store layout, I made the purchase.

If you’ve never done a foot peel, you might assume the process is akin to a peeling face mask that you let try on your skin, then tear off once it’s dried. “Peel,” in this case, is not referring to one of the steps, though, and is actually indicative of what will happen to the skin on your feet as the mask ingredients dissolve dead skin and exfoliate rough patches. Per the foot peel instructions, I slipped my tootsies into plastic socks filled with an exfoliant-rich formula and fastened them closed with sticky tabs at the ankles.

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Shop now: $7; ulta.com

As is typical with these types of masks, nothing happened for the first few days, and I forgot all about the promise of “baby soft” feet — until I was doing yoga on a black mat about three days later. Every time my feet moved — warning: some of you foot-peel uninitiated may think this sounds gross — traces of dead skin were left in their wake (results usually start between three and seven days for foot peels). I flipped my feet over to inspect them and was in so much awe, my jaw might have actually dropped (it was an out-of-body experience, so my exact reaction is a little fuzzy in my memory).

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Shop now: $20; saksfifthavenue.com

I have never seen skin peel as comprehensively as this from an at-home treatment. The dead skin looked like sheets that could be pulled off in one fell swoop (although you’re supposed to let the skin fall naturally), and I could see the fresher, softer layer peeking through underneath. Over the next few days, the dead skin did organically come off — but I also expedited the process. I couldn’t help but self-indulge the reptilian inclinations that were clearly lodged somewhere deep in my psyche, sloughing off patches of dead skin in the shower with a foot file similar to this one.

As weird and counterintuitive to your icky senses as a foot peel mask might sound, I am far from alone in getting completely mesmerized by the odd-yet-intensely satisfying skincare practice. Shoppers search for foot peel masks, like those from popular beauty brands Tonymoly and Patchology, in droves. Perhaps the most popular of these masks and one even Zendaya has tried, the Baby Foot Original Exfoliant Foot Peel is sold out or on backorder at many beauty retailers, but we located the exfoliating treatment on sale at Ulta.

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Shop now: $20 (Originally $25); ulta.com

I had no idea the neglect the skin on my feet must have been suffering for three decades. My poor little piggies had been going to the market all this time without a proper refresh; my heels may as well have been the work of diligent bricklayers, crafted out of layers of dense, hard skin just passing for the soles of feet. With gleeful optimism about how my reborn soles would feel post skin shedding, I worked on the bottom of my feet in the shower for the next two days and was left with smoother, softer, more attractive feet ready for public exposure. And because that probably won’t be any time soon, I have even more time to chip away at a lifetime of buildup with foot peel mask after foot peel mask.