Cosmetic Review: My Experience Trying a TCA Peel
Winter has come to an end, and with it the season of dry, flaky skin is complete. Every winter I suffer through these symptoms and deal with them the best way I know how: to go through an intensive skin treatment to aid in the healing of my cold weather-battered skin. This time around I opted to go for a deep TCA peel. I will tell you my impressions below!
TCA is a non-toxic chemical that is a relative of vinegar. When it is applied to skin, it causes the topmost layers of cells to dry up and peel off over a few days. “Light” peels remove only the top layer, while medium and deep peels remove more layers—though deeper peels increase the risk of complications like scarring. These peels can be done on the face, neck, chest, back, arms and legs. For the most part, TCA peels are safe if conducted by an experienced dermatologist.
A few signs that you may need a TCA peel include:
- hyperkeratosis (an abnormal increase in the granular layer of skin),
- acne scars,
- hyperpigmentation (a darkening of the skin),
- oily skin prone to acne,
- stagnant spots after acne,
- dull complexion,
- enlarged pores.
Since the procedure is serious, there are a few contraindications you may have that you will need to consider before undergoing a TCA peel:
- any chronic disease in the acute stage,
- inflammatory processes in the body,
- receiving Roaccutane,
- pregnancy and lactation,
- fresh tan,
- the age under 18,
- recently conducted other peels, mesotherapy, deep cleaning.
If you have sensitive skin, be sure to apply TCA peels carefully.
In my opinion, I recommend not doing a TCA peel if you have clogged pores—it’s better to carry out an easy cleaning in a week and a half. After exfoliating the upper layer of skin, it’s possible that all of the not-so-pleasant stuff inside your pores can climb out and become inflamed.
A TCA peel has an antioxidant effect. It tightens pores, smooths the surface of the skin and has a powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Furthermore, it has whitening properties and regulates the oiliness of the skin.
Now it’s time for my personal experience and impressions.
Briefly about myself and my skin: I am 31 years old. My skin is normal / prone to oily, enlarged pores and single inflammations occasionally occur.
I started a course in November and tried four TCA peel treatments. The minimum recovery period between the procedures is 28 days.
During the first procedure, the TCA Peel was composed of 20% acid. Each treatment after that used 35% acid.
The procedure begins with a facial makeup remover. Next, an acid is quickly applied to the freshly-cleansed skin. I didn’t even feel the acid on my skin, as all of the moisture evaporated instantly.
The peel started with one half of the face and then a few minutes later it is applied to the second half in order to lessen the amount of pain (keep in mind that it DOES hurt!). In the intervals the doctor was armed with a fan, which helped relieve the burning sensation that came from the peel. After a few minutes, the doctor waits for it to “frost” on the face. (It is during this time that the peel actually does look like pinkish skin covered with frost.) The “frost” means that the peel penetrated far enough to the required depth of the epidermis. After the skin is covered with the frost and the burning sensation stops (though your skin may still feel a bit warm), the doctor then applies a new layer, following the same steps as before. There will be three layers done in total (though it could be more or less depending on your skin). Additionally, after the last layer the doctor can “drop” the peel on problematic spots like scars, post-acne marks, etc.
In terms of the pain level and burning sensations, the second layer delivered the most amount of discomfort. The first layer was almost painless and by the third you become a bit more accustomed to the feeling (though I generally have a high endurance to pain).
After the last layer is done, the skin must condition and therefore not be processed with anything. My doctor just applied a panthenol spray to my face. After that, the procedure was complete.
After the procedure, my skin was still slightly pinkish, but it quickly returned to its normal normal hue. All of the painful and burning sensations were gone when the third layer was peeled off. This is a big plus for me, because I still remember the glycolic peel I had done about 7-8 years ago: I needed to put my head out of the window for half a day, because the skin was burning incredibly. Here everything is much more humane!
My main recommendation for after the procedure is to not wash your face for 24 hours. This was hard psychologically for me: how could I not NOT wash my face?! Of course, no disaster will occur to your skin if you wash your face in this time frame, but the point of peeling is to exfoliate the skin layer, and the water will soften it, which will prevent the process and delay its effects.
So, do not wash your face for 24 hours. Then, on the third or fourth day, you can start using the Pantenol spray on your face, which should not injure or crack your skin, but will help to heal and restore it.
So, how did my skin react to the peel? The day following the procedure, it was just beautiful, smooth and flat. It is advised not to use any moisturizers, foundations or powders so my skin was au naturel. By the evening on the second day (my procedure was done around lunch time), my skin contracted significantly. On the morning of the third day I woke up with a dense crust on my face. The crust was even and smooth and only caused a reaction when I would smile. One day during the week after the procedure I performed at a seminar on public speaking, and it was the most dispassionate persuasive speech since my expressions seemed so cold-blooded—but it was only to avoid smiling because of the crust! Of course you can smile a little bit, it doesn’t hurt, but your face will feel like a mask. And it’s not just smiling the causes this—frowning or actively moving eyebrows do too. I typically move my eyebrows quite often, so I had to keep my forehead frozen—in fact, I couldn’t move the upper half of my face at all. This continued for at least half a day. Then the nasolabial area began to peel off, since it was the most mobile area. The peeling takes the longest on the forehead and the temples.
The peeling skin does not happen in small scales. Instead, the skin peels off in large, thick pieces. While it is not a good idea to tear them, you can do so neatly with the edges of scissors (but please exercise caution if using this method!). Fortunately, the peeling is almost invisible to others.
In general, the recovery process takes about 5-6 days. That is, I did the procedure on Tuesday, the skin started to peel off actively by Friday evening and by Monday morning the skin was already in excellent condition.
It’s advisable to wait a week after the peeling is complete to conduct any rehabilitation procedures—my beautician removed the remains of my peeling skin, then moisturizing it with the help of Lactolan Peeling Cream by Holy Land.
Now, about the results.
I apologize for not having any shocking “before” and “after” photos to share. Mainly because I do not let my skin get to a state of desperate car to photograph, since I feel the need for an active renewal of the skin, and the peeling perfectly deals with it.
The skin becomes smoother, the pores are tightened. The fat content is reduced.
Post-acne and scars are smoothed out. The skin looks healthy, glowing from the inside. From personal experience I can not say anything about wrinkles, but judging by how powerfully the skin is smoothed, I can say that the impact on them would be very favorable—at least they will be smoothed out.
After the skin has completely recovered, I turn to my usual care routine (I like using Renophase creams). During the period of time the skin is peeling, it is better to give up using any products with Retinoids or acids (like any acne or wrinkle creams, etc.), as they loosen the topmost layer of skin, which can cause the peels to penetrate deeper and make the process uncontrollable.
Of course, the peeling is done only during periods of the low solar activity, (i.e. from late October to late February, depending on the region). Solarium visits are also out of the question.
However, the little complexity and limitations, I believe, are worth the effect and benefits for the skin.
That about covers my experience trying out a TCA peel. Thanks for your time!
P.S. While I get many recommendations on this topic and in general about the best skin care for my face, with all due respect, I am seriously convinced that my beautician knows it better than anyone. The information given here may be helpful to others, but a free consultation is not needed. I advise everyone to first speak with their own beauticians or dermatologists about their recommended skincare approach.