18% TCA Chemical Peel - day 1

I believe after a year of doing chemical peels, I have decided that 18% buffered TCA is the best for several reasons: the peel application is less painful, it includes very little downtime compared to a 25% TCA chemical peel, and there's very little cover up to do afterward since there's no redness. Remember: my personal experience should not replace medical advice or treatment!

This peel is already complete, but I post here according to the journal I keep, so here's a picture of my face yesterday morning (no sunscreen or makeup):

Before Chemical Peel

I applied 18% TCA chemical peel last night on the lower half of my face and on a small area that has sun spots or age spots. I applied two layers on my lower face and four layers on the spots. Here's a picture of the frost:
Chemical Peel Frost

Age Spot Frost
I decided to be more aggressive with the age spots since my hair covers this area.

I really had absolutely NO downtime today. My face actually had a bit of firmness that even made it seem younger (but I know that's the minimal swelling doing that). I had a normal work day, and I went out to dinner with friends! Here's a picture at the end of day 1:

Day 1 after 18% TCA Chemical Peel
I was wearing sunscreen and powder in this picture, but there's little evidence of a chemical peel application the night before! I think 18% (with only two layers) is going to be a good strength for me this year :-)

I'll post pictures of day 2 tomorrow. Day 2 is normally my worst day: tight, itchy, leathery, definitely not a day to go out with anyone or be seen--but the 18% TCA chemical peel was different ...


  1. Very curious to see how the peel's coming along. Do you ever use warm water compresses to help speed along the peeling process? I am doing a full face peel right now, and am doing doing compresses (holding damp washcloth against skin, removing and allowing skin to dry, and re applying washcloth a few times in a row). Seems to be helping, but it could be my imagination. Do you do anything to speed up the process?

  2. Lindsay, Thanks for the question. I have applied glycolic acid (low strength) to finish some residual peeling after 10 days, but primarily I use apricot kernel oil to speed up the peeling process. After a long shower, I apply the oil and it helps hold in the moisture. I've read that using vinegar compresses helps speed up the process, but I think I'd use that only for deeper peels. Vinegar is alkaline, which neutralizes acid, so in theory if there's any active acid at work, that would stop the process and start healing. What type of peel are you doing and what strength?

  3. That's interesting! I'd never heard about glycolic acid to help with the last of the peeling, but it seems like a great idea. After a year or so of 40% glycolic peels on weekends, I'm doing a 24% tca peel. On day 5, and some patches of skin just aren't peeling. Couldn't avoid going out today and even with makeup it was apparent that something was 'up' with my skin. Not picking/fussing over skin is an exercise in self control :\

  4. I had never read about it either...it was by accident that I stumbled upon it. It had been 10 days since I'd done a TCA peel, and I was starting to break out (I use glycolic to keep clear), so I decided to do a very low % glycolic peel to get the break out under control. I left it for only for a minute or two and started using my fingertips to spread it around because it was starting to sting, and it was then that I felt the residual skin (that I hadn't seen) peeling off under my fingertips. I was actually mortified to realize that I had skin on the far sides of my cheeks that I hadn't seen! So I've been diligent about checking that area ever since that incident, and I've also used glycolic since to help peels that seem to go on and on, but I would never use after a deep peel...just a light one because I wouldn't want to traumatize the new skin.