TikTok Fact Check: Does Glycolic Acid Soothe Dry Feet? We Asked a Podiatrist

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If TikTok is good for one thing, it’s making us question, well, pretty much everything. Is sea moss good for your skin? Will the 12-3-30 treadmill workout change your body? Can you really elongate the lifespan of your avocados by refrigerating them in cool water? These are all hacks we discovered while browsing the addictive app that consistently provides us with puzzling questions on a daily. And today is no different. The girlies on the Tok have stumbled on yet another potential game-changer: using glycolic acid for dry feet. So, we consulted Dr. Chanel Perkins, DPM aka Fab Foot Doc to give us the rundown on whether glycolic acid is the magic elixir to smoother, softer soles.

Meet the expert: Dr. Chanel Perkins, DPM, the Fab Foot Doc.

TikTok Fact Check We Asked a Dietitian If Eating Sea Moss Will Really Clear Up Our Acne

First, what causes dry, cracked feet?

There are several causes of dry feet. Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, fungal infections, psoriasis and eczema can all contribute to your feet looking a little parched. Other things like dehydration, cold weather, harsh soaps and frequent wear of open back sandals can also cause your feet to dry out.

What is glycolic acid? And does it work on dry feet?

The answer is yes. “Glycolic acid is a naturally occurring chemical found in many fruits and vegetables such as sugarcane, beets, tomatoes, pineapples, cantaloupe, papaya and even sour milk,” Dr. Perkins explains. According to Medical News Today, glycolic acid belongs to a group of ingredients called alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which “work by loosening the top layer of old skin cells by breaking down the gluey substance that keeps skin cells joined together, encouraging the skin to grow more cells,” and resulting in smoother skin. Many cosmetic companies incorporate glycolic acid in their products because it’s a natural exfoliant that doesn’t damage the skin.

However, when choosing a type of glycolic acid for your feet, it’s important to remember that what works for your face may not necessarily work for your soles. “Try to pick a leave-on formula as opposed to one that requires washing off,” advises Dr. Perkins. “When you consider the fact that the skin on the heels is tougher than any other skin on the body (i.e. face), it makes sense to get a formula that has a higher concentration of glycolic acid to allow for maximal exfoliating properties.”

To get the best possible results, Dr. Perkins also encourages you to add a moisturizer afterwards. Long-term use of glycolic use may lead to extreme dryness, so it’s best to follow up with a moisturizer to repair the skin’s barrier.

What are some other benefits of glycolic acid?

Aside from being a world-class exfoliant for your feet, glycolic acid also has the following benefits:

1. It hydrates the skin. In the same way glycolic acid can help the skin on your feet to stay smooth, it can do the same for your face. Glycolic acid is a humectant, which means it attracts water molecules, keeping your skin looking nice, supple and moisturized.

2. It may help treat acne. A 2019 study found that due to its antibacterial properties, glycolic acid can significantly reduce the occurrence of both inflammatory acne (i.e. pustules, pimples, cysts etc.) as well as noninflammatory acne (i.e. blackheads or whiteheads). Glycolic acid also has a small molecular structure, which allows it to reach deep within pores, dissolve the buildup of oil and remove dead skin cells before they turn into acne, says Derm Collective.

3. It can have anti-aging effects. Glycolic acid has been proven to boost collagen and hyaluronic acid levels in the skin, resulting in the appearance of fewer wrinkles and lines on the face.

4. It aids in scar reduction. In addition to preventing acne, glycolic acid can also be helpful in reducing the appearance of acne scars. Per study in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, “Glycolic acids are systemically safe and nontoxic and produce superficial peels capable of significant effects, but with few complications.”

1. The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toning Solution

At seven percent concentration, this formula by The Ordinary is lower on the spectrum, but TikTokers swear by it. Raves one reviewer, “It’s only $10-$20. Buy it and try. Trust me.” Affordable and effective? Seems worth it.

2. Glytone Ultra Softening Heel And Elbow Cream

For people with calluses or extreme dryness, this leave-on cream may be the key to smoother feet. Note that it has a high concentration of glycolic acid and is only meant to be on your skin for ten to 15 minutes, so be sure to rinse thoroughly with warm water afterward.

3. Arganatural Cracked Heel Glycolic Foot Cream

Mixed with shea butter and aloe, this lightweight foot cream not only packs a soothing punch, but it also doubles as a moisturizer and promises a non-greasy finish. It also contains a mint essential oil for a refreshing, soothing feel.

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Steph is a native of Zimbabwe who is both enamored and genuinely baffled by the concept of silent letters. From 2020 to 2022, she served as Associate Editor at PureWow covering...