30% TCA at-home Peel

This 30% TCA chemical peel has been my highest at home so far; and after doing it, I don't think I can go any higher at home because it was red and burning--and it hurt! The burning for several days scared me a bit because I felt like I could have been in the early stages of an infection.

Although I am terribly careful about what I eat and drink during a peel--to promote faster healing, I was especially careful after the burning sensation continued. I drank only filtered water, ate wild-caught fish and fresh, organic veggies, along with a few fruits (to keep my sugar consumption very low).

I also applied anti-bacterial ointment on days 1-4, and I am sure that helped as well. I was afraid of a bad breakout, but I figured that was better than an infection and possible scarring! It was a smart decision. 

Note: I diluted the original formula from 50% to create a 30% (very close based on mixture). I also use the proper pH product to get the right peel. I always check the pH before buying and double check it with test strips before use. I did not neutralize this peel, but I probably should have, given how red it stayed for several days. It ended up being a great peel, although it was still risky.

Here is a series of photos covering the 10-day TCA at-home chemical peel (click on to enlarge each)


Frost (Yes, I was thinking, "what have I done?"):

Next morning:

Day 3:

 Day 5:

Day 6:

Day 8:

Day 10 (just moisturizer):

I just turned 50!


  1. Wow 50 yrs old !!!! ..... you look great !!! love, love how smooth your skin! Gonna do at home chemicals peels on my holidays! you totally inspire me !

    1. Good luck with your peels. It's not an overnight process, but I've seen results with consistent, continual treatment, being conservative, and UV protection.

  2. You are my hero ♥♥♥ ;)
    I have begun a regimen of contour - infrared/cold/rf treatments. One to build collagen beneath, one to diminish on the surface and the other treatment to help with redness. I will have my fourth in a couple weeks. It burns for awhile, too.

    The woman that actually treats me has the most amazing skin.

    I am still considering peels tho once it gets cooler.

    The working phase of the peel looks amazing *and painful. I think I would try to get some topical lidocaine/xylocaine to use right before. Then use the alcohol/acetone, perhaps?

    The results post-peel are marveloos!

    (I am really trying to remove the stress off my face. August will be a year of still trying to finalize the divorce. oy)

    lookin good gabi!!

    ~~Barb F (soon to be S.)

    1. Barb, Thanks for your sweet comments.
      I know it's been a difficult year for you (hugs). It is crazy what stress can do to our skin though. I just moved across the country, and I'm starting a new teaching job here in Texas, so I'm feeling a lot of stress too, although nothing near what a divorce can cause! Your treatments sound really interesting; I need to look into that.
      I have lidocaine, but the application of the peel doesn't hurt--TCA acts as a natural anesthetic at this high a percentage. It was the burning on the 1-3 days afterward on this one that really hurt. I was putting cold compresses on my face and sleeping with a fan blowing directly on my face at night! It was worth it though! I also did my neck, but I didn't include pictures--I'm going to do a separate post for that later (when I get more time).
      Take care, Gabi

    2. Hello!!

      Texas?! Wow. Daughter was considered for a position in MIdland *I was to move with her. Stayed a month and found it was actually temporary so she stayed on in Chicago. I am single. Hooray. And now in Illinois! It seems so many people I know are heading West. I hope it all works out well for you. (Don't want to ask personal questions, here.)

      I have signed up for the Vipeels. October 18th will be the first. May do some peels/treatments on my hands, as well. It will be a nice start up for my TCA's, right? I was getting up there in strength, too - but not nearly as high as yours.
      No one will believe your age. You look 30 to me!!


      Barb S (no more husbands!!)

    3. Hey Barb! Let me know how the VIpeels go. I am still just doing the TCA peels. I haven't done one since June since school is in session, but I am back on my retin-a.
      Thanks...I think they've helped me age better too, although I could only *wish* to look 30 again! Take care and take some pix before/after the vi so I can post them!

  3. Hi Gabi -
    I have only had one and I'm not that pleased. I think I get better results from TCA for sure. I had such high hopes and I did buy the three! Along with resurfacing, tightening and ipl. Might use the others for neck. I suppose.
    Can't wait to get back on TCA for sure!
    Hope you have a great Holiday.

    Barb S. :)

  4. Hi, do you use any form of after care after using TCA?

    1. Hi Anon,

      I do have an after-care routine, and it consists mainly of an uber-healthy diet (all anti-inflammatory), lotion made specifically for post-peels (see below for link), and physical sunscreen and hats, especially in the first month after a peel. There's a link to the lotion I use in this post: http://mychemicalpeel.blogspot.com/2014/05/25-tca-facial-peel.html

  5. Ok thanks, your skin looks fantastic! If only I had clear skin, my skin has blemishes & looks lifeless. I was takin Biotin for hair growth but that gave me break outs and after a year my skin has never cleared properly. I have purchased TCA 25% but not used it yet. I also have lines & sun damage. Not sure if you agree with TCA

    1. Anon, I still struggle with acne and very oily skin, so I definitely know it's a challenge--even at 50! I use glycolic acid weekly to keep my breakouts under control, and when I'm religious about it, I rarely see a spot. If I skip a week, especially when I'm going TCA peels, I break out, and it's so frustrating. I would do 30-35% glycolic peels weekly for 1-2 months to get the acne under control before starting the TCA; I think the glycolic acid will also brighten the dull complexion.

  6. Continued- you may suggest I use Glycolic instead? I am just desperate to clear my face, nothing seems to be working.


    1. Hi Gem, are you the same person who posted above? I just replied that I'd go with glycolic instead, so you're right on the money. Glycolic is important to acne-prone skin because of its molecular size. I wouldn't go with lactic because that's better for dry skin: it tends to help increase oil production, and TCA really works best at damaging the skin (to kick-start the collagen-building process).
      I also believe in high doses of B5 (pantothenic acid) to kick-start the clearing. I've used it several times, but the amount has to be high, about 8-12 grams per day, but it works to shut down the oil production. It takes about two weeks to work. Look at a study on Google scholar by Dr. Leung (search "pantothenic acid acne"), which describes the B5 deficiency of acne-prone people. There are several other studies there too on this approach. I can usually take it for 3-4 weeks, which will keep me mostly clear for 4-6 months, with other approaches, such as glycolic acid or retin-a.

  7. Have you ever used TCA on your neck & would you recommend it? Obviously the skin on the neck is very thin, what percentage TCA would you suggest is best? Would 15% be okay to use?

    1. I have peeled my neck, and if you look closely at the pix in this same post, you'll see how red my neck is because it peeled it as well.
      I'd start with retin-a or another gentle agent for a month prior, or I'd dilute my TCA to about 10-12.5%. It may not have the same visible peel at this strength, but it will be sufficient, at least for my skin type. I do think 15% would be okay for my very light skin, but I'd watch it carefully the first time: I wouldn't want it to get super red the very first time.

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  9. Sorry Gabi to have bombarded you with so many posts!! Yes it is me Gem. At age 40 my skin looks worse then ever, stress has aged me years & I just don't know what to do. I found your blog & I am amazed at how good your skin looks. I do not know why you need these treatments? You look younger then me! I had botox done on my crows feet last week even that was a disaster. I have one eye small then the other. My eye is weeping & now I have more lines under my eyes then I did before botox! Even Omega 3 don't agree with me, I started to get this itching all over my body

    1. Hi Gem,

      Thanks, but believe me, my skin didn't look this way before I started the peels. It's been several years now, but my skin looks so much better in some ways, but still aging unfortunately. I can't stop gravity, but many aspects have improved with the different peels.

      I get botox between my brows; I think most of my wrinkles are around my mouth, not eyes. I guess we all come with out own little set of disasters, right?

      What else are you doing around your eyes, besides the botox?

      Are you smoking? Drinking alcohol? I know these things sometimes keep us sane, but they ruin our skin. A glass of red wine a day is okay, but anything else can contribute to so many problems.

      You should have a bottle of water in your hands at all times, preferably glass. Hydration will do miracles for your skin. Seriously, I have 3-4 bottles sitting around at any time. I've had to make myself do it. I even add a drop of stevia to my water to make me like it.

      Have you found a physical sunscreen you can wear daily without problems? This is a must once you get your breakouts under control.

      You're not alone: Omega 3's break me out when I take them in tablet form, so I eat a lot of chia seeds and salmon, which I seem to tolerate better.

      I know I sound like a maniac, but for those of us who have mature skin, we have to be...

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  11. I do not drink or smoke but I am not a healthy eater. I have suffered from depression for years & that has made my eating habits a lot worse. I also have trouble drinking water, I can not drink much, I tend to drink flavoured water. As you can see I really do have to change my lifestyle full stop!
    I have tried dozens of eye creams for my eyes which I have seen no difference at all.
    I sometimes use castor oil but not keen on the smell.
    I see that you use Retin -A for your eyes, I also have hooded eyelids & thought about using Retin-A too but I am still anxious because I have never used any chemicals before.
    What's worse is that I don't use any form of sun screen for my face because my skin is very sensitive & has reacted to the few that I tried in the pass.
    I was in a couple of relationships that have been very stressful. And finally there is no toxic people in my life left! This has given me the chance to think about me again!
    BTW you do not sound like a maniac! You are just health conscious & that is the direction I should & want to take too :)

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    2. Gem,
      I've read that the number one anti-aging cream is sunscreen! I've also struggled for years with reactions, and I still fight mine all the time. I just barely tolerate Keys Solar 30 SPF, and some times I react to that too, but I think it has more to do with my body's immune system (my theory is that acne and associated inflammation is related to a problematic immune system, but I'm not a physician, of course). I would focus first on finding a good physical sunscreen, along with using glycolic acid to get the breakouts under control.

      Since the castor oil doesn't seem to be working, I'd consider something else. After cleansing, I like olive oil or rosehip seed oil around my eyes. Don't need much, and extra virgin olive oil is easy to get and inexpensive. I don't use an eye cream: I think they're a waste of money, but I swear by my retin-a, as do most clinical studies and drs. It's the one and only topical cream that has shown a true reduction in wrinkles, if used properly.
      I would also revamp my diet to reduce the inflammation. Lots of great articles on "anti-inflammatory diet" out there; Dr. Weil has many on his site, although I don't agree with all the supplements he tries to push...

  12. Gabi, are any of these products any good?




    1. Gem,
      I've read good reviews about the SkinCeuticals Correct Retexturing Activator, especially for clog-prone and sensitive skin. I'd definitely get ONE at a time to try for 2+ weeks before starting another--just so that you know which is working (or causing problems).

      The 2nd items is a lot like the first except it doesn't seem to have the exfoliation ingredients--so these two may be unnecessary together.

      The last item looks good but may be redundant if you get the first item since they both exfoliate. It will definitely be stronger than the first exfoliant but not as strong as retin-a.

  13. Thanks I really appreciate all the valuable advice you are giving to me. I have started to look at anti inflammatory diet sites, even found *21 Inflammation-fighting recipes
    I am more of a fruit person then vegetables but this will have to change :)
    I don't know which strength of Glycolic I should get. I found this one on Amazon...


    1. Gem,
      I love Yavonae's peels! I still have her 100% TCA peel, which I haven't seen online in a long time. The 30-35% glycolic peel is a good strength for my skin, but it still stings like crazy. I have to use a fan, and then it itches like crazy after I rinse it off, but it works. I'd start by leaving in on only half the time the instructions suggest, just to see how my skin reacts the first time. But be prepared: it's gonna sting!

      I'm not sure I'd use this on the same day as the retinol product posted above since they'll both be exfoliating and harsh, but I can use glycolic one day, then skip a day and use retin-a (very lightly).

      Oh, I always use retinol products (the other item posted above) at night ONLY but can use the glycolic during the day (which is rinsed off).

      Glad you found some info on anti-inflammatory diets! It's made a huge change in my skin, although slow and gradual.

    2. Hi Gsbi! Its that time of year,albeit a tad overdue...to PEEL. I have Yvonae 100% from 08? Do you think I could make 25% or just order fresh?
      I look tired.
      Lost some weight...only in my face?



  14. So it is a no -no to the hydrating gel!

    Retin-A night cream - do you use it daily?
    I was wondering if I could use this for my eyelids & for under my eyelids where the lines are. I can not find Retin-A specifically for eyes.

    How often do you think I should apply the Glycolic peel?

    I am reading & learning lots, With the help of you :)

    1. Hi Gem,

      I think you can get a lot more for the $$ than that hydrating gel. I use a simple hyaluronic acid serum that costs $6.99 and lasts 6 months. It looks like you must be in the UK, but here's a link to what I use for daytime hydration (when I need it, usually only in the winter); most of the time, my oily skin mixed with my sunscreen is more than enough: http://www.swansonvitamins.com/swanson-premium-99-natural-hyaluronic-acid-serum-1-fl-oz-30-ml-liquid

      I do use retin-a nightly, except when I'm prepping for a peel--or just following a peel. I use .1% generic, which is the strongest, but I use very, very little, and I don't apply it to my eyelids nightly; I apply to my lids 2x/week on top of my oil and several hours after I've cleansed. I've never seen an eye-only version, so I just use the very tiny bit still on my fingers after applying to my face. So if I use a pea-size amount for my entire face, I dab any residue from my fingers around my lids. It's so little that I can't even see any on my fingers, but I know it's there because if I rinse my fingers, I can feel the slip of it.

      I use glycolic peel once a week during spring, summer, and fall because it's really humid here; I don't need it during the winter because I just don't break out as much.

      I wouldn't use retin-a along with any other exfoliant, such as that one you linked earlier; they'd be too harsh together for me, but we all react differently. :)

  15. Hi Gabi, Yes you are right, I am in the UK. You must of heard about our Unpredictable weather :/
    We don't get much hot weather! This is supposed to be our summer season but some days are cold. I can count how many times I have been in the sun & it is not more then 4-5 times this year.
    Nevertheless I am looking into buying this sunscreen-

    SkinCeuticals products are expensive. I am so glad you showed me a cheaper version. I will be buying one product a week that way it will be more affordable for me.

    If I get the Swanson serum this week & I will try & squeeze in the Glycolic peel too.
    Then next week get the Retin-A night cream. I don't know if I should go for the 0.5ml to start off with. The only downside is that the reviews for 0.5ml are not so good as the 1.0ml
    Will I still need B5 serum if I use the Swanson serum? If so they I will try this product below...

    You recommended B5 for my dry skin

    1. Hi Gem,
      Good luck with the sunscreen; my skin is so picky about it, and I've never tried that one.
      Oh, the B5 I recommended to reduce oil, but I was referring to the vitamin taken orally, but if your skin is dry, you don't need B5 (maybe I misunderstood one of your posts).

  16. Gabi , you say you use Retin-A right?
    I am finally aware of the difference between Retin-A & Retinol
    Retin-A is only available by prescription whereas Retinol can purchased over the counter or online.
    Retin-A is stronger then retinol & has faster effect.
    I doubt very much my doctor will prescribe me Retin-A so I will be sticking to Retinol 0.25 to 0.5%
    & Glycolic peel.

    Ps: I just realised that I put 0.5 ML instead of % in my last post!!
    Damn I am silly!!!
    I guess I had my pets on my mind. I am always giving out different doses to different animals. That is one of my excuses & the other is "I must be loosing it" Lol...

    1. Gem,
      That's right, but why won't your dr write a prescription for retin-A? It's proven to help acne (and that's what it was originally created for), but they realized it's great for wrinkles too. If you are dealing with acne, it would be justified. Here in the U.S., all I have to do is ask my dr for retin-A, but the issue is that my insurance won't pay for it, so if I want it, I have to pay for it. It's about $130 for a small tube, but that lasts me a year.
      I have a link to a study in one of my posts (maybe the retin-a for eyes post) that shows OTC retinol is as effective as retin-a, so if you can't get a script, the retinol would be fine. Gel for oily, acne-prone and cream for dry skin types. Yes, I'd go for the stronger retinol; you can always dilute it with moisturizer if it's too strong.

  17. Gabi,   Retin-A /Tretinoin has been discontinued in UK - Since 2012  :/

    But after searching over 2 hours I came across this website & I do not know if this is genuine Retin-A
    And also doesn't require a prescription!
    Which has made me even more suspicious.


    1. Yep Gem, that looks like generic retin-a. I know several people who've gotten it online. There's usually a "physician consultation" fee so that the prescription is legal, at least if the shipping is to the U.S. I don't know if you'd have the same or different loopholes to jump through, so to speak.

  18. Hi Gabi,  That link to that site I sent you , had a lot of bad reviews! So I gave that a miss, and yes you are right most sites ask for prescriptions or consultation fee's.

    But in the end I found this...


    I payed with Paypal which is no problem but I hope it is the real thing (fingers crossed)

    1. That's a great price Gem. I checked iOffer with www.bbb.org - it's an agency here in the states that provides business ratings for companies based on complaints and how the business resolves them. Although there are many complaints, they still receive an A+ which is great, so hopefully it's the real thing :)

  19. Hi Gabi, iOffer seems to resemble eBay, so I guess it depends on the seller.
    This seller has a 99% seller rating, but I will have to wait & see.
    Shopping online is always a risk, but not knowing what you are buying & using it on your skin! Well one has to be crazy or in severe desperation to do this
    I am taking a big gamble here (>_<)