How I do an at-home TCA Chemical Peel

These are the steps I follow with my TCA chemical peels.

Preparing the skin:
Prepare the skin for a TCA chemical peel using Retin-A (tretinoin) or a weekly glycolic acid peel for 2-4 weeks before the TCA peel.  I believe glycolic acid is better because I don’t have all the side effects that come with Retin-A (and I don’t need a prescription), but I used tretinoin this year along with glycolic acid and found that it took my peels less time.
How to do an at-home Glycolic Peel  After the skin has been prepared, I am ready for my TCA chemical peel.

Getting Ready
  1. I made sure I was a good candidate for an at-home TCA chemical peel: no open acne or other lesions; skin color that is not prone to hyperpigmentation, able to wear sunscreen; completed allergy test on a sensitive area, such as under the chin, with no reaction; skin is prepared (see above) have not used any peeling agents (Retin-A or any acids) within 7-10 days, have not shaved the area to be peeled in two days and can wait an addition two days (if using an electric razor) or 7-10 days (if using a blade razor) to shave.
  2. Gather all supplies and head to the bathroom or some place that has cool, running water available, as well as the following: hand towel, peel solution, rubbing alcohol, cotton balls, swabs, petroleum jelly, glass dish, timer, hand-held fan, moisturizer, sunscreen
  3. Cleanse to remove makeup and/or sunscreen; gently blot dry
  4. Moisten cotton ball(s) with rubbing alcohol and gently wipe the area to be peeled; this will remove all traces of oils, which can cause uneven peeling if not removed
  5. Apply a thin layer of the petroleum jelly around lips, nostrils, and eyes (I don’t forget eyebrows); this will keep any running or dripping solution from accidentally getting into these areas
  6. Pore a small amount of the peel into a small glass dish (if diluting the solution, I do it ahead of time and test it)
  7. Set the timer: start with 3 minutes – by the time I apply the peel to my entire face, it will have been on about 30 seconds since I started.  I NEVER LEAVE THE PEEL ON LONGER THAN FIVE MINUTES.

Applying the Peel
  1. Using the two cotton swabs most of the time: I dip them into the dish and apply in this order: forehead, nose, above lip, cheeks, chin area.  While I use my fingers to apply glycolic acid, I don’t want to do this with TCA chemical peel, or I'll peel the tips of my fingers.
  2. I want to let the areas frost before neutralizing. Frosting is when the skin starts to turn white or looks a bit like a frosted glass.  NOTE: if the three-minute timer rings before frosting has occurred, I have to decide if I want to wait.  I know my reaction when it frosts versus not frosting.  I keep in mind that the longer I leave on the solution, the longer it will take to peel. I NEVER LEAVE THE PEEL ON LONGER THAN FIVE MINUTES.
  3. Sometimes I have to use my hand-held fan because the stinging can be painful
  4. When the timer rings or when it frosts, I rinse with copious amounts of cool water for about 1-2 minutes and gently blot my face dry with a hand towel
  5. Apply a gentle moisturizer, such as Theraplex Hydrolotion Clear for acne-prone skin or shea butter (this does not clog me)
  6. Apply a physical sunscreen if the sun is still shining; I avoid chemical sunscreens on traumatized skin
  7. I do not use any peeling agents for at least one week.  If my skin tolerates the peel well, I can do another in 4-5 weeks.
  8. Visit my page Caring for my skin after Chemical Peel