Trichloracetic acid, or TCA, is used in chemical peels to treat fine wrinkles, brown spots, mild acne and blotchy skin. Professional TCA skin peels are available online for at-home use. They can be purchased in strengths of up to 50 per cent (for dilution purposes) and provide mild to extreme results based on solution strength. Superficial TCA peels are up to 20 per cent strength and can be performed every few months to achieve a more youthful appearance. Peels at 50 per cent strength should be performed only in a doctor's office and are often done under general anaesthesia.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Tricloracetic acid solution
- Neutraliser solution
- Applicator brush
- Petroleum jelly
- Antibiotic ointment
- Cotton swabs
- Alpha hydroxy cleanser and lotion
Purchase a 10 per cent to 20 per cent TCA solution online or at a beauty supply outlet. Anything above 25 per cent will cause serious peeling and should be performed by a licensed aesthetician or doctor.
Do a patch test before application by putting a small amount of TCA on the inside of one elbow. Leave it on for a minute or more, and then neutralise and remove.
Watch the test area for 24 hours for adverse reactions. The skin may peel but should not develop open sores, allergic itching, burning or bloating.
Apply alpha hydroxy cream or doctor-prescribed Retin-A in the morning and at night for a week or more before applying the TCA solution. This will help to open your pores and allow for deeper penetration.
When you're ready to use the TCA, wash your face with a gentle cleanser. Pat it dry to remove excess moisture.
Put on gloves to protect your hands, then begin applying the TCA using a make-up brush or an applicator brush that came with the TCA kit.
Brush on the chin, forehead, cheeks and then nose, avoiding the eye area. Use an upward motion and make sure the face is coated evenly to discourage blotches.
Leave the TCA solution on the skin for a few minutes, depending on the strength of the solution and any burning that may occur.
Apply the peel neutraliser by blotting it on the skin with a cotton swab or cloth. Coat the entire TCA peel area.
Remove the peel solutions with a gentle cleanser. Apply petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment to the peel area to encourage healing.
Wash gently and apply ointment or petroleum jelly twice daily for two weeks after the peel.
Tips and warnings
- Use a paste of baking soda and water if your skin is burning to neutralise the peel.
- Do not wear make-up until your skin is no longer peeling.
- A 10 per cent peel solution is very mild and will not require much healing time, but 15 per cent or above may cause redness and peeling of the skin that can take up to three weeks to heal.
- Your skin may turn white and form scabs before falling off to reveal new skin. To avoid scarring, do not pick or tear off peeling skin or scabs.
- Avoid sun exposure after the peel procedure. Wear an SPF 30 when going outside for at least three weeks.
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