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TCA Peel At Home: How I did It Safely + Before & After Photos!

In ANTI-WORKS., BEAUTY, FACE, PEELINGS, REVIEWS FACIAL TREATMENTS AND PRODUCTS by Clelia MattanaLeave a Comment

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The TCA Peel ( trichloroacetic acid ) is a chemical peel, excellent for the face and body, regenerating the skin superficially and medium-deep, depending on how it is used.

In this article, I will talk in detail about my experience with the TCA peel at home, 25% with before and after photos, but there will be a lot more to discover about this amazing peel!

Main Chapters:

The article will be long and, at times, deliberately repetitive. But I believe that if you are serious about wanting to do a peel of this kind, you need to be clear about everything, from the skin’s structure to how the TCA works and more. So make yourself comfortable πŸ™‚

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER

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This article reports my PERSONAL experience with TCA. I am not a doctor, and the article’s information is provided for information purposes only. If you have questions about this procedure, your doctor will decide what is best for your skin.

The information reported here results from in-depth research, advice from the doctors I relied on for the first TCA applications, and what I found on my skin.

IN NO WAY IS THIS ARTICLE INTENDED TO INCENTIVE THE USE OF THE TCA AT HOME.

I wrote the post to report my direct experience so that people intending to undergo the peeling, whether in a doctor’s office or at home, know what they can expect and see, through my photos, the day-to-day skin’s peeling process.

I always advise contacting qualified personnel for this kind of peel, but I am aware that in the real world (where we all live), there will always be people who, for various reasons, will try this procedure at home.

If you decide to do so, I cannot be held responsible for any damage caused by the procedure or the product used.

This post is not the place to discuss this type of choice. The article aims to help those who decide to do it by themselves to avoid damage due to poor information on the application of the TCA and on pre and post-treatment mistakes.

I will explain in detail the risks you face if you choose to do the TCA at home and what I did to avoid them (no procedure is risk-free, even if done correctly at the doctor’s office).

I am a firm believer in information, not censorship. Not talking in detail about how this procedure takes place does nothing but increase the cases of people who, not knowing the necessary steps, still try and ruin themselves with their own hands.

I would feel more responsible NOT to share my experience. I have tested the TCA on my skin several times over more than eight years (at my own risk), have sought advice from several aesthetic doctors and dermatologists from whom I have performed the procedure, and have spent days and nights studying the procedure in great detail on scientific publications.

In short, since it is my face, I see fit to inform myself from authoritative sources and, despite this, it took me more than a year to apply the TCA peel at home.

This message is to reiterate that if you decide to do it at home, the TCA must not be taken lightly because it involves significant risks if done wrong. But I don’t want to terrify anyone. If you follow precise protocols, the risks are minimal, and the benefits are remarkable.


Thank you for reading this disclaimer carefully. If you have questions I have not answered in this article, do not hesitate to leave a message at the end; I will be happy to answer!

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1| What is TCA peel, and How Does it work?

So How does a TCA peel works on your skin, and what are the benefits?

TCA or Trichloroacetic Acid is a very low PH substance (about 1.3 / 1.5) and has the ability to create what is called a “controlled chemical burn.”

In a nutshell, TCA creates damage to the skin that reacts by repairing it by producting collagen and elastin, very important molecules for giving the skin a young and healthy appearance, reducing wrinkles and giving more firmness to the face.

This type of peeling is considered “medium,” but depending on the percentage used and how many layers are applied, it can fall into both the category of medium-light and medium-deep peeling (for more information, see the next chapter on the percentages and concentrations of TCA)


“Before & After” my TCA peel 25% – Photo preview

Before boring you with lessons in the anatomy and physiology of the skin, I leave you with a brief visual preview!

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Just to scare you a little bit immediately πŸ™‚ The latter is “greasy” because I protected the new skin with Aquaphor!
The photo was taken on December 8, 2021, 44 and a half years old. There is no botox, fillers, or filters in this photo.

The photo on the left was taken immediately after applying the 25 TCA peel, a single layer, held on the skin for 3 (infinite) minutes. As we will see below, the 25% TCA peel is the maximum recommended concentration on the face. It is a medium-deep peeling that reaches the papillary and (partially) reticular dermis.

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The whitish coat you see on the face is the (very normal) phenomenon called “TCA peel frosting”: the result of the coagulation/denaturation of the proteins attacked by the acid. A normal effect of a medium to deep peel is wrinkled skin immediately after the procedure.

The after photo was taken on day 4 post peeling and, in my case, there is no more peeling / residual exfoliation, so the procedure is completed.

The skin in the photo is shiny and greasy because, after the peeling ends, I apply a layer of repairing ointment to protect the new skin from external agents for a few days (as well as the mandatory use of sunscreen).

I’ll post the photos of the peeling days later on. Get ready because they will be quite “graphic.”

This is why, unlike superficial acids (such as glycolic, lactic, mandelic, and salicylic), which can be done at home without problems, TCA is best performed by a dermatologist or aesthetic doctor who has a lot of practice with this type of procedure.

The doctor should also inform you about the protocol to follow post peeling, but above all, reassure you that your face will return to normal after days of semi-panic in which you will get an “oh my, I’ve ruined my face.” Don’t worry; it almost always happens to TCA veterans, too!

To understand how a TCA peel (or any type of peel) works, you need to understand how our skin is composed and works.


The layers of the skin and where the types of acids penetrate:

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Let’s take a closer look at the various layers and their main functions (so when I mention them, you will know exactly what I mean).

Short recap: The TCA peeling reaches the dermis (superficial or medium, depending on the concentration) while the other lighter acids stop at the epidermis/stratum corneum.

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Below I add a short, very simple illustrative video to visualize the various layers that make up the skin.


Benefits of TCA Peel:

TCA peel is a holy hand for facial freshness and offers many benefits to the skin. Several scientific studies have confirmed that collagen and elastin production continues for weeks and sometimes months after a TCA peel.

  • It revives the skin with a dull complexion
  • It gradually reduces scars and acne marks
  • Decreases the depth of marked wrinkles
  • Eliminate superficial fine lines
  • It helps fight photo-aging hyperpigmentation
  • Even out the complexion
  • It makes the skin more compact, elastic pink, and with a young and healthy appearance.

The first time I did it, at about 30, I was blown away. My skin was smooth, pink and firm like that of a newborn and I finally had a healthy complexion, without specks or blemishes.

My skin did not show any exaggerated wrinkles or blemishes, but after a heavy acne episode, I had several scars and some signs of inflammation. Even my friends noticed the difference and complimented me (without knowing about the TCA).

For skin with more problems such as deep scars or more mature with loss of tone and wrinkles, it is recommended to perform a series of at least 4/6 TCA peels. For remarkable results, space them at least one month from each other.

These time frames are part of well-studied medical protocols, necessary to allow the new skin time to recover and complete its life cycle. Commonly called “cell turnover”, which in young skin is about 28/30 days and in the more mature ones go beyond 30/40 days.

Suppose you force this timeline in the hope of getting better results. In that case, you do nothing but create stress on the skin that doesn’t have time to heal, with possible side effects such as scars, spots, rashes that do not resolve, and other problems requiring medical intervention.

So rule number one of TCA peel: NEVER do them too close together!

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2| Different Concentrations of TCA Peel and Specific Benefits

I tried them all: TCA peel 13, 15, 20, and 25 % concentrations. Here you’ll discover the main differences!

Trichloroacetic acid is applied at different concentrations to obtain different results and/or applications in different body areas.

Low concentrations of TCA will be used for superficial peeling in areas of the face with thinner skin and therefore do not normally get over the epidermis. They are considered medium and medium deep at higher concentrations because they penetrate the dermis.

The fact that trichloracetic acid penetrates deeply is essential for the success of the TCA peel, as there is a dense network of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid fibers in the dermis that support the skin like a real “scaffold” (collagen ), make it elastic (elastin) and give it turgor (hyaluronic acid).

Over the years, the production of these substances, especially collagen, decreases significantly, and the peeling that reaches the dermis stimulates its production, helping to keep the skin younger.

The medium TCA peels can reach the upper part of the dermis (papillary dermis). In contrast, the deep ones, performed only on small portions of the skin by medical personnel, penetrate well up to the deepest layer of the dermis (reticular dermis).

Here are the concentrations of TCA most commonly used and their specific uses (click on the + to read the details:

The lowest concentration I have found (to date) on the market is used for sensitive areas such as lips, eye contour, eyelids, or for those suffering from rosacea and/or very sensitive skin.

On normal skin, it is used initially by layering the acid at most twice.

What is “layering“? Layering is a method of application where the TCA is passed several times in the same area at specific intervals. A first pass is made, and you wait about 5 minutes.

If the skin shows neither irritation nor frosting, proceed to the second pass in the same areas. Up to a maximum of 5 passes for those with skin accustomed to TCA. This helps the delicate eye area to acclimate to the acid without major side effects. Often for resistant skin there is no visible peeling.

The results are still excellent despite the low concentration, the skin is more compact in the long term, and the fine lines around the eyes are less visible.

Remember: Initially, it is NOT applied to more than one pass, a maximum of two. You get to more ‘passes only if the skin allows it. When treating the eye contour area, it is extremely important to have perfect dexterity and a protocol of execution in the application to prevent acid from entering the eye.

For this reason, I suggest you rely on a doctor, and if you want to try it at home (at your own risk as always), you have to put in place very important precautions, which I will talk about in the chapter on how to apply TCA peeling correctly. If acid enters the eye, you risk very heavy damage, so read it carefully!

Important note on the results of the TCA peeling around the eye area: THE TCA has an exfoliating effect and promotes the production of collagen; therefore, it cannot correct other defects such as dark circles, bags due to fat deposit, and other imperfections in the eye area that have nothing to do with skin’ texture, laxity, spots, and wrinkles.

There are also TCA peels at 10, 13, and 15% on the market, and these concentrations, if no layering is carried out, are considered medium superficial peelings. Albeit with the due precautions, they do not involve major risks because they only penetrate the superficial part of the papillary dermis in contact with the epidermis.

Despite this, those who have never performed a peeling should contact qualified personnel. Every skin is different; if a 10% TCA does not lead to peeling or redness for some people, it may still not be suitable for sensitive skin.

The TCA peel from 10 to 15% is recommended for the face and for those who have never used this acid. Start from the lowest concentration, therefore at 10% and you can see how the skin reacts. As you get used to it, there are 2 options:

  1. Layer the TCA at 10/13% until you reach the maximum of 5 layers in one session.
  2. Switch to the TCA at 13 / 15% without stratifying.

In short, going slow and with due caution is a must when using the TCA. I did my first peel with 13% TCA. Although the skin preparation was optimal, and my skin was accustomed to using acids, I still felt the difference compared to superficial acids. Even at low percentages, the TCA is truly a peel in its own right, and the results are visible.

The 10 to 15% percentages are excellent for layering before moving on to higher ones (which involve more risks).

However, they are not suitable for the delicate areas around the eyes and lips if the skin has not first gotten used to it with lower percentages. In these areas, they can only be used with extreme caution on very resistant skin and without stratifying, at least for the first few times.

My next peeling involves applying a single 13% layer around the eyes and a 25% layer over the rest of the face. I can proceed with 13% because I am preparing the skin around the eyes with tretinoin I use as an anti-wrinkle.

The TCA peel 20, 25 % should only be done if certain conditions are reached (which still apply to the previous concentrations but here even more):

  • The skin has been accustomed to trichloroacetic acid with lower percentages
  • The skin is very resistant
  • You do not suffer from rosacea (this also applies to peelings over 7%)
  • There is no tendency to heal with keloids (hypertrophic scars)
  • Skin must be intact before treatment

The TCA peel at 20, 25 % is considered medium deep even if not stratified and reaches the dermis more deeply. Over time, if the skin tolerates it, layering can be performed, always gradually and respecting the recovery times of the skin between one peeling and the next.

TCA peeling at 20/25% It is excellent for mature skins with marked wrinkles, for acne scarring , hyperpigmentation, skin laxity and loss of skin tone and as a weapon of prevention against skin aging in general.

The risks are always those associated with TCA peels (scars, hyperpigmentation, sensitivity, redness, allergic reactions), but clearly, the stronger the acid, the more the risks increase; therefore, it is very important to prepare the skin in the best possible way and gradually accustom it to acids.

In my last TCA peel, I used the 25 concentration for the first time, and before the procedure, I was a little nervous despite my decades of experience with peels.

I didn’t see a huge difference between the TCA peel 20 and the TCA peel 25, but my skin is resistant and used to these treatments. Some skins do not hold a 20% acid well, so pay maximum attention and do a patch test 24 hours before treatment.

Pros and Cons of TCA peel at 20/25%:

PROS: Beyond what I have already indicated, such an aggressive peeling penetrates the deeper dermis with consequent stimulation of more marked collagen production, with visible results after the first application.

CONS: The actual peeling (i.e., the desquamation in the following days) is also usually very marked, with longer recovery times, from 4 to 10 days. Furthermore, the adverse effects increase (photosensitivity, risk of spots if adequate sun protection is not religiously applied, etc.).

Important Note: The adverse effects are valid for any type and concentration of peeling but are more frequent with those at high concentrations. The pre and post-peel caution and precautions I will discuss later apply to all concentrations.

The 30 TCA peel is usually highly discouraged for full-face application. Its indications are mainly:

  • Treatment of small parts of the face to reduce very deep acne scars.
  • Treatment of parts of the body with resistant and thicker skin such as legs, shoulders, and back with signs of hyperpigmentation, stretch marks, and other issues.

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3| How To Apply The TCA Peel The Right Way: Step By Step

Applying the TCA peeling correctly and following the protocol is essential to avoid the side effects of this procedure. Here is what I recommend, in my experience, before doing the TCA peeling yourself:

  • Read up as much as possible on forums, videos, and articles like this one with instructions.
  • Get detailed information on how to apply the TCA peel: Better if accompanied by explanatory images/videos.
  • Test and perfect your manual skills but replace the TCA with water until you are sure of the movements and the amount of acid to use.
  • Perfectly prepare the skin at least two weeks before peeling.
  • Buy EVERYTHING you need in advance for both peeling and post peeling.
  • Rehearse the timing using a stopwatch. Never go random. Timing accuracy is essential.

That said, here’s how I prepare myself on the day of the peel and how I do it, step by step!

Step 1: Prepare Everything You Need for the TCA Peel

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Being organized is the first step toward a successful TCA peeling at home. As in a doctor’s office, where the professional prepares what is needed, we must do the same.

Having a clear view of everything we need helps you to have everything at hand immediately and evaluate if something is missing.

I generally prepare the bathroom as follows:

In addition, I also prepare the sink with a solution of water and baking soda to neutralize the acid if necessary.

TCA is a safe acid because it neutralizes itself, so there should be no need for this step, but sometimes I get TCA peel frosting earlier than expected, or I can’t bear the burning sensation. In this case, I wash my face with the baking soda solution and neutralize the acid.


Step 2: I wash my face and pass the wipes with denatured alcohol

A very important step for the success of the TCA peel. If you don’t have disposable wipes (for injections), use cotton with denatured alcohol at 70/90% (pink alcohol).

It is essential to eliminate any trace of fat from the face, the better this step is performed and the better the acid will penetrate the skin resulting in a much more uniform peeling.

I pass the wipes at least 3 to 4 times, insisting on areas where oil production is greater. I need to feel that my skin is completely “dry.”


Step 3: Vaseline Application

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Another fundamental step, in this case, is for your safety. With a cotton swab, I apply a generous layer of petroleum jelly to the areas where I don’t want the acid to reach.

So I protect the whole eye area (if I don’t have to apply the peel in that area), the lips, the sides of the nose, and the eyebrows.

If I also have to apply the TCA around the eyes, I protect them equally in the tear through area and at the lashline.

I prefer to use a thick layer on the eyebrows even though they are not treated with tattoos.

In case you have tattoos it is important to apply petroleum jelly to prevent it from fading or getting damaged.

I always use Vaseline in a tube, so I don’t touch it with my fingers to avoid contamination.


Step 4: Application of the TCA Peel on the face

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This operation may seem trivial, but it is not. Putting enough acid, so the entire face area is covered is important.

Once you have started the application, it is good to do everything at once to have a uniform result and to start counting the minutes correctly.

Put enough acid to fill more or less two gauze folded in two as in the photo above. And follow the next steps: (I’ll then make a video using gauze with water to show the movements, but it’s very intuitive)

How To Apply The TCA Peel on Your Face: Step by Step

  • Soak the gauze and fill it with acid.
  • Squeeze it so that it does not run but is sufficiently soaked in liquid.
  • Begin the application from the forehead.
  • Pass the gauze across the forehead from the hairline, horizontally, up to the eyebrows. Never go over it on the same point.
  • Pass the gauze over the temples from top to bottom (forehead to ear sides).
  • Start again to pass it horizontally on one cheek: start from the bridge of the nose outwards. Avoid the eye area for now!
  • Pass the gauze to the other cheek in the same way.
  • Focus on the jaw starting from the earlobe up to the chin. Do the same movement from the other ear, always up to the chin.
  • Go under the chin with the gauze vertically towards the neck (but DO NOT pass it over the neck).
  • Swipe the gauze over the upper lip from the bridge of the nose down.
  • Run the gauze over the nose from the middle lash line to the tip.

These steps must be done in a decisive, fluid, but controlled way. NEVER pass the gauze more times at the same point. All in all, you shouldn’t take more than 30/40 seconds. The application is not difficult if you first practice with the gauze and water as suggested.


Step 5: Activate the Stopwatch for 5 minutes and use the hairdryer/fan.

I use the stopwatch I also have for the gym, my trusty Gymboss, and set it at 5 minutes. A cell phone is fine, too, as long as there is an alarm at the end of the allotted time.

Once the 5 minutes start, the torture begins. You will feel the skin burn a lot. Use the hair dryer in a cold setting or a portable fan to mitigate the discomfort.


Step 6: Check The 25 TCA Peel Frosting During the 5 Min Wait

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Always check the level of TCA peel frosting during the 5 minutes (after applying the 25 TCA peel)

Very important: Don’t just let the acid take effect as you try to cope with the burning. Check your skin very well in the mirror. If you notice that it slowly becomes white (the TCA peel frosting effect), you can decide to neutralize the acid before the 5 minutes with the baking soda solution previously prepared.

The ideal would be to obtain a uniform TCA peel frosting, but this does not always happen, and this depends on several factors:

  • Manual ability to distribute the acid
  • Preparation of the skin in the previous weeks
  • How the skin was degreased before the procedure
  • Quality of the acid used

Not having a uniform frosting does not mean the acid didn’t work. There will almost always be areas where frosting is more marked than others. It happens to me with the forehead and sides of the face, while sometimes I have to wait longer on the cheeks and chin or do some layering.

IMPORTANT: The TCA peel Frosting is the point beyond which you must never go. Do you want to stop before a complete frosting is achieved? No Problem. Adding more TCA after frosting? NEVER! Frosted skin is a very clear sign of controlled chemical burning. It indicates it is time to neutralize the acid and end the procedure.

If you have just started using the TCA from a low%, it is also possible that after 5 minutes, you will not see frosting. It’s normal. You will probably have less marked peeling, but gradually getting used to acid is better than risking damaging the skin. The TCA is still working its magic!


Step 7: Layering the TCA peel. When and How to do it.

Layering is a procedure that consists of applying several layers of TCA peel at intervals of about 5 minutes.

Why use layering? If you are new to TCA (using very low %), you can use this method to understand if and how much acid your skin can sustain without damage. Better to give a single coat of 7/10% TCA, for example, and see an immediate frosting than risking it with higher percentages.

If you are using a 10% and resist the burning well but do not see frosting, you can wait 5 minutes (NEVER BEFORE), and if nothing changes, you can pass the TCA one more time. If you notice that it burns and you see some frosting, you stop there and neutralize it.

In short:

When to use Layering

  • If you use VERY low percentages of TCA peel (7% -10% maximum) with no frosting or visible peeling in the following days.
  • If you are already an expert and your skin needs a higher TCA%, but you don’t want to switch to the higher concentration yet.

How to Use Layering:

  • Always allow 5 minutes to pass between 2 applications, NEVER layer before.
  • The maximum number of layering per TCA application is 5, but if you are new to this, it is best to avoid it and stop first.
  • Layering is not always necessary! If you use a concentration higher than 10%, check the skin. IF YOU HAVE FROSTING, DO NOT DO ANY OTHER LAYERING. The acid has completed its action.
  • The first time with TCA, never layer the acid.

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4| 25 TCA Peel Day By Day: What To Expect:

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TCA Peel Day By Day preview: from day zero (TCA peel frosting) to the peeling phase and end of the process. Photos in more detail below.

Even if you are doing your TCA peel in a doctor’s office for the first time, there is always that anxiety about what kind of reactions your skin will have, what is normal and what should worry you, and most importantly: What your face will look like in the following days? How much peeling will you have?

Here’s what to expect after a 25 TCA peel:

Important Note: Everyone has different skin types and sensitivity, so the days following the peel are not the same for everyone. I report below my personal experience, but the duration and amount of exfoliation may vary. Use the data and images below only as a guideline/reference.

Immediately after the application of the 25 TCA peel

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DAY 0: Fairly even frosting immediately after application (no layering)
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About 10/15 minutes after neutralizing the TCA, the frosting begins to diminish, and the redness becomes visible.
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30/40 minutes after acid neutralization, very little frosting, redness, and swelling. Here the sensation is one of burning and extreme sensitivity to the touch. I have already put on the first layer of protective and soothing ointment.

A stinging sensation can be normal with touch-sensitive skin, and (if you have had frosting) this will persists and go away slowly in about half an hour / 45 min, leaving the skin quite red. This redness will go away within a few hours.

How many hours exactly? It depends. From an hour to more than 5 hours at times. It depends on the skin’s sensitivity and how deeply the peeling has penetrated.

You may also feel a tingling / needling sensation. Very similar to sunburnt skin. It’s normal, after all the skin has suffered a considerable trauma! In some cases you may also notice some swelling but it shouldn’t be extreme.

All of this should pass within 12 hours at the most. If you notice that your symptoms increase instead of diminishing, call the doctor who performed the peel immediately and let him see you. But if done right, you shouldn’t have these problems.

Day 1 Post 25 TCA Peel:

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Day 1- evening: skin with ointment to decrease the feeling of tension. My skin has a dark complexion with patches and some residual swelling.
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Here is the skin in the afternoon of day one before applying the ointment. You can see that the skin is tight, rough, and wrinkly.
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Day 1 morning: darker skin detail with ointment, still no signs of peeling. Note how the TCA darkens the areas where there is more photo-aging (sides of the face, chin, and forehead for me)

The skin returns to its natural color and darkens over the hours, becoming a bit “tanned.” If you had spots on your face, these could be even darker than the rest. The skin may begin to “pull,” all normal πŸ™‚

Day 2 Post 25 TCA Peel:

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The skin begins to wrinkle more and more.
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In detail, on the sides of the mouth, you can see how “cracks” are starting to form.
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Here’s what happens if you move your face! Grandma mode. Don’t be scared; it’s perfectly normal. You haven’t ruined your face, I promise!

On day two, after a TCA peel, the skin begins to dry out, and the “grandmother effect” begins! The first few times you see your face like this, you might begin to doubt everything and panic.

This state, in which the skin is not yet peeling, can last several days. Usually the first cracks come form around the mouth where there is more movement in the face. If you still don’t see them on day two, this is also normal.

Take care of your skin with the products recommended by your doctor or with the ones I use, and the skin underneath will be regenerated perfectly. These are the days when you need to be patient.

Days 3-4 Post 25 TCA Peel: The Real Peel Begins!

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I begin to peel very quickly, and this phase, for some, comes a few days later.
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Closer detail of my peeling process, the skin underneath is healthy but still slightly red. The redness will disappear in the following days.
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Never be tempted to remove dead skin with your hands by pulling it. Use the scissors with caution!

Real peeling should begin to show on day 3/4; if the TCA% was high, you should see a noticeable peel. In some cases, the peeling may be less evident (especially with low%), but this does not mean there are no profound effects on the dermis.

A recommendation for these days is to take care of the skin with products that act as a barrier against external agents and ALWAYS use sunscreen even if exposed to indirect light.

New skin is much more sensitive to sun damage so it must be protected very well. Immediately after, and in the months following the peeling.

IMPORTANT: The old skin might accidentally be removed prematurely (washing the face or sleeping), and the new skin will be redder, but this should settle in the following days. If it was too early, there could be a second peeling wave in that area. No need to panic: protect the skin with healing ointments or creams, and you’ll be good in no time!

Days 4-7 post 25 TCA Peeling:

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My allied creams for a better result after a TCA peel: I spread Connettivina Plus with healing properties all over my face.
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On day 6, the skin is completely peeled, soft, firm, and healthy. I am still applying Aquaphor as a protective barrier (when I rub it, the skin turns red momentarily, but it goes away after a few minutes).
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My other ally during and after TCA peeling: Weleda Calendula Ointment. Soothes and moisturizes the skin. Advice on how and when to use these products in the dedicated chapter on post-TCA Peeling aftercare.

On days 4-7 post peel, the exfoliation ends. These days your TCA peel aftercare becomes more important. Never leave the skin dehydrated or poorly protected from external agents. A separate chapter is dedicated to my favorite products for the protection and hydration phase of newborn skin πŸ™‚ The more you take care of it, the more the results will be evident.

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5| TCA Peel Aftercare At Home + Products I Recommend

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Here is my collection of Post TCA Peel aftercare at-home products!

After all the sacrifices and patience to have beautiful skin with a TCA peel at home, let’s see how to care for your skin during all stages.

The TCA peel aftercare begins immediately after neutralizing the acid. I dab my face with a towel and apply a thick layer of Weleda Calendula ointment (see the photo in the chapter above!). The skin at this moment is burned and needs products with a moisturizing and soothing action.

Even if this burned skin is gonna peel soon, on the first day, we still have to take care of it to prevent it from having adverse reactions to the acid.

From now on, my skin will be dry in the morning when I wake up. For the rest of the day, I treat it as follows:


TCA Peel Aftercare Routine – Day By Day:

  • MORNING: I remove any flaps of dead skin when it’s still dry and gently wash my face with an oil-based cleanser. I use IUNIK Calendula cleanser.

  • FACE WASH: Never rub; massage the product gently, rinse and dry your skin, placing the hand towel on the face. The skin can stay slightly wet; it doesn’t matter. Rubbing can cause it to come off sooner than expected.

  • POST WASH: I spread a layer of Connettivina plus and massage gently until completely absorbed. Then I apply all my serums (see below for details) and a layer of Aquaphor repair treatment. This step is very important! Not only does it help to close the hydration given by the connettivina and the serums, but when the exfoliation process begins, it prevents the flaps of skin from dangling and cancels the tight skin sensation, creating a layer of protection from external agents.

  • WHEN SHOULD YOU APPLY SUNSCREEN? During the TCA peel aftercare phase, sunscreen is the most important step. On the days after peeling, I do not use sunscreen because I stay home with blackout curtains, like a vampire! For those who cannot, the sunscreen must be applied AFTER the connettivina and BEFORE the Aquaphor. If you put it on later, it will not be absorbed by the skin. When the peeling is completed, I use Anthelios from La Roche Posay, ISDIN Mineral Sunscreen, or one of the mineral sunscreens I list in a separate article.
  • DURING THE DAY: On days of major peeling, I recommend staying at home to take care of the skin. I add Aquaphor when I see it is reabsorbing; the skin must be left alone to regenerate.
  • BEFORE SLEEPING: I wash my face with the same cleanser. If I have dead skin flaps, I cut them with scissors. I apply the connettivina cream and let it absorb. For the evening, once the exfoliation has started, I also add Weleda calendula ointment in areas where the skin is new. I let it act (it has a heavy consistency and takes a long time to absorb) and then seal everything with Aquaphor.
  • AFTER PEELING IS COMPLETED: This phase is extremely important for the TCA peel aftercare. Once the peeling is done, the new skin must be treated with delicate care and targeted products. Here are the ones that I use and are part of my daily routine (see photo above). I put them in order of application for convenience:
tca-peel-at-home-aftercare-products-and-serums
My Timeless Skin serums collection! One is missing here (Synthe 6). They are so important for my TCA peel aftercare routine.
  • 100% pure Hyaluronic Acid from Timeless Skin an excellent brand that leaves my skin hydrated and soft. I have tried several brands and am happy only with this Hyaluronic Acid Serum, especially used as a TCA peel aftercare. The others tend to stick, while the Timeless skin absorbs quickly without leaving residues. And three drops are enough.
  • Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Serum from Florence : A serum discovered by chance, bought because it was cheap, won me over immediately. It contains vitamin C, a precious ally for the skin, and hyaluronic acid. It helps the skin protect and regenerate before and after sun exposure. I talk about vitamin C and its benefits in a specific article (which I will finish shortly!).

  • Coenzyme Q10 Serum from Timeless Skin : This awesome serum has never been replaced in my routine. Once tried, you can’t go back! It’s perfect as TCA peel aftercare. It contains CoQ10, an antioxidant that fights free radicals, premature skin aging, and peptides. In particular, Matryxyl 3000 is a patented molecule that fights aging and the skin’s loss of elasticity. Result? A protected, regenerated, and above all, SILKY skin. I never had softer and more compact skin. Also, three drops are enough, therefore unbeatable value for money.

  • Cera Ve Moisturizing cream: Unmissable, always convenient, effective, fragrance-free, and with ceramides, it is the perfect moisturizing and regenerating cream for the TCA peel aftercare. It seals the hydration the serums give, and you should apply it as the last step before bed. I always have more than one bottle in my house, and my husband steals it from me, too (he has sensitive skin problems and is fine).

The products mentioned above are the ones I consider ESSENTIAL for the post-TCA peel aftercare. While here, I indicate those to keep at home which is occasionally needed:

  • Antibiotic/antiseptic cream in case of minor infections or to prevent them if the skin comes off too soon. I use Bepanthen Plus.
  • Aloe Vera Gel Omia (if I run out of Weleda Calendula Ointment); otherwise, I use it for the body after a day at the beach.

IMPORTANT NOTE: During the post-TCA peel aftercare days, NEVER use products with perfume, essential oils of any kind, even diluted, irritating, or exfoliating products.

Absolutely NO to masks or creams with Glycolic, Salicylic, or other acids. Do not use creams containing retinol. Never use tretinoin ( Retin A or other brands ) during this phase. Tretinoin MUST be used only in the two weeks of preparation for the peeling and must be stopped at least 2/3 days before the peeling.

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6| How To Prep Your Skin Before a TCA Peel At Home

The success of a TCA peel at home depends on the initial preparation that begins at least two weeks in advance. As already explained, the skin must be exfoliated perfectly to obtain a uniform and deep penetration of the acid.

Doctors recommend tretinoin (retinoic acid / Retin A) for perfect exfoliation. However, if you are not used to this cream, which can also give unwanted side effects, you can use Alpha Hydroxy Acids, which are gentler on the skin.

Avoid using “mechanical” exfoliation mechanisms, so no scrubs or exfoliation devices on the face.

Mechanical exfoliation can be aggressive on the skin prepped for a TCA peel, creating micro lesions to the skin. In addition, exfoliation with chemical agents such as acids is always preferable for a more uniform result.

The last recommendation is to treat the skin gently; if you use products that irritate, avoid them for at least two weeks, and if you are already using tretinoin, stop 2/3 days before the peeling.

In short, the skin must be without obvious irritation and be well hydrated and exfoliated. If you have any pimples or blemishes, don’t worry. Unless it’s a diffuse infected lesion or cuts. In that case, it is better to wait.

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7| Common Mistakes When Applying The TCA Peel At Home

I’ll be honest as always. Even if you rely on a professional, mistakes can happen at the doctor and at home. With DIY, usually, there are more mistakes. Here are the ones to avoid. It’s a long list but better to memorize it than to have problems later, right? πŸ™‚

  • Take the TCA peeling lightly. It is the most frequent mistake.
  • Not dong trial tests (with water, as I suggest).
  • Not waiting for skin recovery times and therefore do them too frequently.
  • Not choosing a reliable and certified product. Never buy on sites of dubious origin. NEVER!
  • Not asking about the procedure. If you are at the doctor, ask to see which TCA he’s using and at what concentration, and ask for pre- and post-peel information. It is not a good sign if the doctor is in a hurry. You are entitled to understand how it works and how the doctor will proceed with the application.

  • Using high percentages when you are starting with the chemical peels. Go gradually and be patient.
  • Not protecting your eyes well enough! ALWAYS put a good amount of Vaseline
  • Putting too much product in the gauze with the risk of it dripping. Always squeeze it gently.
  • Not respecting the time between one layering and the next (for the more advanced ones)
  • Continue the application if you have had frosting. Never do that.
  • Apply the TCA around the eyes and neck / decollete if you have never done it before and are new to acids.

  • Not doing a patch test before using the product. Always do this to avoid unpleasant side effects.
  • Remove dead skin with your hands. It takes patience, but the face has to peel by itself (at most, you cut the flaps of skin with scissors, being careful not to touch the skin that has not yet detached).
  • Use irritating products during and after peeling (see essential oils, other acids, retinoids, etc.)
  • Not using sunscreen: It must become your best friend, and remember to reapply it frequently.
  • Perform a TCA peel in the summer (on top of it, neglect to apply or reapply the sunscreen).
  • Not using use a barrier product such as Aquaphor during the peeling phase. Important for shielding the skin from external agents and avoiding infections and dry skin that cracks prematurely.

These are the mistakes you absolutely must not make to avoid skin damage such as discoloration, scars, hyperpigmentation, and irritation/infections. If you follow the instructions or rely on a competent professional, you will not have to worry.

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8| Where To Buy TCA Peel Online and Which One To Choose

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Tray with my 13% TCA Peel and booklet with all the instructions. A serious brand that I highly recommend.

If you want to perform the TCA peel at home, buying it online can be challenging, yet it is one of the most important things. There are several sites of dubious reliability, so it is important to buy high-quality certified products.

In Italy and the EU, you can’t buy the TCA peel online, but it is not illegal to buy it abroad. It is important to declare during customs clearance that it is for personal use and, alas, pay for shipping and customs duties.

I only buy from one certified American company: Platinum SkinCare. I have used their products more than once and can vouch for their safety and effectiveness.

If you don’t know which one to trust, keep reading because I’ll give you more info and the pros and cons. But before continuing, I remind you that any product like TCA, with low prices in Europe sold on sites like eBay, has no guarantees, so for your safety, spend more but buy a good product.


Platinum Skin Care TCA Peels:

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Here it is: My favorite TCA peels!

Delighted to have discovered this brand a year ago; it has already become my favorite for purchases of both TCA peels and other lighter peels.

ATTENTION: I have compared the TCA peel by Platinum with the peel by other companies I’ve tried over time, and those by the Platinum, at the same percentage/concentration, are stronger.

I first performed a 25% TCA Peel (a very high percentage), and the results/burning/frosting were comparable to only two layers of 13% TCA by Platinum.

You should buy the lowest percentage from this brand if you are a beginner. You can always layer it if you feel it’s not strong enough.

To try their products, here is the link to their site: Platinum Skin Care, for the peelings go to the top bar and click on TCA peel to choose the desired concentration. I have a 10% discount code for you if you use the “pscclelia” coupon at checkout you will get a 10% discount on all orders!

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Here are my orders (and cancellation) to show that I NEVER recommend anything I haven’t personally tested. They are not free products, I paid for everything out of my pocket, and you can also see how much I spent πŸ™‚

Below are the pros and cons I encountered with this brand:


PROS

CONS

  • Fast shipping from America
  • HIGHEST quality products
  • Great customer service
  • Dedicated Facebook group
  • Reasonable prices for the quality offered
  • Wide range of TCA concentrations
  • Sample gift with every order.
  • Company founder Jen often answers doubts and questions personally! I love her knowledge and passion!
  • High customs duties for the EU (depends on how many products you buy, avoid more than 2-3 at a time)
  • Shipping costs (I ask for fast shipping, and I pay more, but they use reliable couriers)
  • To have a 360-degree experience, you need to know some English (tutorials, Facebook groups, etc.) or use an automatic translator.

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9| List Of All The Products to Apply a TCA peel At Home

Given the length of the post, I understand that not everyone wants to read every single sentence, so I thought it would be useful to collect the links of all the products I use for the TCA peeling here.

Platinum skincare Professional TCA Peel 7/13/20/30%

Pre TCA Peeling Products

Post TCA Peeling Products

  • Disposable gloves
  • Sterile gauze
  • Wipes with denatured alcohol
  • Bicarbonate
  • Vaseline in a tube
  • Gymboss
  • Weleda Calendula Ointment
  • IUNIK cleanser with calendula
  • Connettivina plus
  • Aquaphor repairing treatment
  • Anthelios from Roche Posay
  • ISDIN Age repair
  • Mineral sunscreens
  • Pure Hyaluronic Acid – Timeless Skin
  • Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Serum – Florence
  • Coenzyme Q10 Serum – Timeless Skin
  • Cera Ve Moisturizing cream
  • Bepanthen Plus
  • Aloe Vera Gel Omia

Have you ever tried a TCA peel at home or at the doctor? Share your experience or your questions in the comments below! Thanks for reading! Clelia

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