A TCA, or trichloroacetic acid peel, is a chemical peel that can be done either by a professional or on your own at home. The TCA peel can improve the condition of your skin by reducing wrinkles, fine lines and discolouration and by treating acne and scarring. Although a TCA peel will remove the surface layer of the skin, it is mild enough to be used at home. However, it can cause damage if it is misused, so it important to know what you are doing before your proceed.

Condition the skin before doing a TCA peel at home. Start three to four weeks before the peel. Avoid any form of exfoliation or shaving. Apply an alpha hydroxy acid lotion or cream before bed each night. Apply this cream with your fingers to the area of skin where you will be doing the peel.

Mix a trichloroacetic acid solution for your peel by diluting full- or half-strength trichloroacetic acid with water. Mix the solution in a small plastic container with a plastic spoon (do not use metal). Half-strength trichloroacetic acid should be mixed with an equal amount of water (1 tablespoon acid to 1 tablespoon water). Full-strength trichloroacetic acid needs to be mixed by two parts water to one part acid (1/2 tablespoon acid, 1 tablespoon water). The idea is to create a 25 per cent acid solution.

Perform a patch test. Apply a small amount of the solution to the inside of your arm with a cotton ball. Leave the solution on for three to four minutes and then clean the skin with water and a mild cleanser. Wait 24 hours (or longer if you like). If no excessive redness, rash or tenderness occurs you can proceed with your TCA chemical peel.

Cleanse your face with a mild, soap-free cleanser. Pat it dry with a clean washcloth.

Remove excess oil with an astringent and a cotton ball. A mild astringent that won't dry the skin such as witch hazel is best.

Apply the acid solution to your face evenly with a facial sponge or a cotton ball. Avoid getting too close to your eyes and mouth.

Leave the solution on for three to four minutes. Wipe off the solution with a cotton ball dipped in a mixture of 1 cup water and 2 teaspoons of baking soda.

Apply a triple antibiotic cream after you have removed all the TCA peel from your skin. Apply the cream with your fingers. For the next two weeks, keep your skin free of cosmetics. Avoid shaving the area for a month and avoid sun exposure. Wash daily with a mild, soap-free cleanser and keep it protected with a triple antibiotic ointment.


The skin will turn white --- or frost --- after a minute or so. This is normal. The frost should fade within a half hour. Your skin will turn brown and crusty the following days after the peel. Do not pick at the skin.


Do not use this peel on children. Consult with your doctor before doing this peel if you are taking any medications, such as Accutane. Also talk with your doctor if you have any of the following conditions: facial warts; previous reaction to a peel; cold sores; sun allergies; radiation treatment; thick scars; if you are pregnant or breast-feeding; sunburn or severe sun exposure in the past two days; surgery within the past six weeks of the area to be treated, according to Yavonae Skin Care. This peel will burn. You may fan the skin during the treatment for some relief. You can also apply cool compresses after the treatment is over.

Things You'll Need

  • Alpha hydroxy acid lotion
  • Trichloroacetic acid
  • Small plastic container
  • Plastic spoon
  • Cotton balls
  • Mild facial cleanser
  • Washcloth
  • Astringent
  • Facial sponge
  • Baking soda
  • Triple antibiotic cream
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About the Author

Hillary Marshall has been writing professionally since 2006. Before writing instructional articles online, she worked as a copywriter and has been published in "Ideal Living" "Sass" "Science Edge" and "Shopping Cents" magazines along with countless websites including Gadling a blog by the Huffington post. Marshall studied early childhood education at the Stratford Career Institute.