Glycolic Acid Hack Transformed My Dry Feet Before Summer

Sandal season may have begun, but my feet aren't ready yet. It’s been a year of wearing thick socks and bulky boots and they’re getting a little worn out – especially the soles. I know it's neither cute nor charming to admit, but no matter how many times I pick up a foot file or rub lotion on it, the chapped skin remains. Is there a scarier feeling than having your feet caught in the sheets?
I'm not the only one. On TikTok, the topic of cracked feet has been viewed more than 5.7 billion times, while the hashtags #footcare and #dryfeet have 1.2 billion and 129 million views respectively. The labels are full of fun tips, like Skin Strike, which uses hyaluronic acid, moisturizer, and petroleum jelly to create super-soft skin. But one hack on the app that went viral used a very popular skin-care ingredient: glycolic acid.
TikToker @calistatee racked up hundreds of thousands of likes after showing followers how to get rid of dry, cracked skin on the soles of their feet. She pours a small amount of The Ordinary's 7% Glycolic Acid Toner (£11.50) onto a cotton pad and rubs it into her feet, then slathers on moisturizer before slipping on a pair of socks. After just two hours, the results were impressive. I didn’t expect my feet to glow

The hack even piqued the interest of The Ordinary CEO and co-founder Nicola Kilner, who told R29 she'd tried it herself and it had worked wonders. However, first I had to take it to a skincare expert.
"Glycolic acid is an AHA (or alpha hydroxy acid) that chemically exfoliates by breaking the chemical bonds between dead skin cells," Dr. Parisha Acharya, cosmetic physician at "It helps remove dead skin problems like calluses and helps soften and improve skin texture."
Consultant dermatologist Dr. also spoke on Instagram Live. Anjali Mahto on viral trends. "If you asked me if glycolic acid would help with dry feet, in theory I would think so," she says. "It's an exfoliating acid, and if you have a lot of hard, dead skin on your feet, a little glycolic acid might help." Mahto goes on to say that the cuticles (the top layer of skin) on the soles of our feet are very thick. "If you've developed a thick layer of calluses, using glycolic acid might help. It makes total sense."
PhD. Acharya recommends using glycolic acid once or twice a week and using a nourishing balm the other nights. "This combination will help you be sandal-ready in the summer."
So TikTok users and experts alike are convinced — but do glycolic acid pedicures really work? I already have a bottle of The Ordinary’s glycolic acid toner on hand. It's a little too strong for my sensitive facial skin (and doesn't act as a deodorant like many TikTokers have claimed lately), but I'm wondering if it could be the ultimate exfoliant my feet need so much .
I saturate a cotton pad with glycolic acid and rub it into dry skin. I then apply a layer of Flexitol Overnight Foot Cream, £7.49. I put on a pair of thick socks and went to bed, hoping that a few extra hours of sleep would be good for my feet. The next morning the results were great and my feet felt less rough, but I decided to practice this technique over the next few nights to get the best results.
My feet are still a little wrinkled (I blame the boots), but the dry, flaky skin is completely gone (finally!) and the soles of my feet feel much smoother than before. As Dr. Mahto mentioned, the skin on our feet is much thicker compared to other parts of the body, so I didn't notice any burning or irritation while using glycolic acid. But as with any active skin care product, there are some precautions, says Dr. Acharya.
"First and foremost, it's always recommended to avoid using such ingredients on areas with broken or sensitive skin, severely cracked heels, and irritated skin." If this applies to you, Dr. Acharya yet another hacker. "Soak your feet in warm water at night and apply a nourishing balm to the soles of your feet. Then cover them with bamboo foot socks. Soak again in the morning and gently massage the hardened skin areas with an exfoliating mitt or pumice stone."
There's no denying that this trick will revolutionize dry, cracked feet. The best part is, any exfoliating toner you have at home (even an exfoliating serum you don't feel comfortable using on your face) will work just fine.
If you just want to stick to lotion, some personal care brands offer specialty foot moisturizers that contain exfoliating acids. Try CeraVe SA Renewal Foot Cream (£9.50), which contains salicylic acid to remove dead skin and ceramides to repair. Also check out O'Keeffe's Healthy Feet Exfoliating Moisturizing Foot Cream (£9.99), which uses mild lactic acid along with skin-softening urea and shea butter to improve dry soles.
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