Don´t try this at home, kids!
I´m a somewhat experienced at-home chemical peel user. I routinely use 40% glycolic & 65% lactic acid peels. With TCA, I started out with 8% 2 years ago, and over time worked my way up to 4 layers of 8%. After a year long or so break, I started with a 1 layer 15% TCA peel. Next I did a 2 layer peel. The pictures below are from my 2nd 2 layer peel. As you will see in the pictures, I tolerate 1 layer with almost no frosting at all. 2 layers (each layer gives the peel a 25% strength boost I believe) is as far as I´m willing to go, because I don´t want to take chances. Stronger is not always better!
If you want to try a TCA peel at home, please do extensive research online. Use an appropriate prep regimen of Retin-A or glycolic acid serum to ensure thorough & even penetration of the acid. However, the prep regiment may also cause the peel to go a bit deeper, so for a first try with a low %, a prep regiment is not necessarily needed.
Please purchase the peel solution from a reputable seller (I recommend makeupartistschoice.com). Follow instructions closely, and always start out with the lowest %. A patch test is always a good idea. Use neosporin/bacitracin for 48h after the peel. Never pick at flaking/peeling skin! And finally, sunscreen is a must for several weeks after the peel (but then again, sunscreen should be a must year round anyway)
The pictures may be a bit a scary, but I figured it may be interesting for people to see. Remember this is just MY experience. I´ve used milder peels in the past, and I appear to have quite "tough" skin. Some people even get a lot of irritation & pain from a much lower % of TCA!
I don´t want to advertise at-home TCA peels in this strength at all, getting this done professionally is great if you have any kind of doubts about safety & potential risks. But I think TCA peels are a great way to improve your skintone AFTER you tried milder treatments.
This is after de-greasing the skin with alcohol to ensure even penetration of the acid & applying Vaseline to lips, around eyes and nostrils for protection. This is the best picture I could take, sorry! I do have minor, but stubborn, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation on my cheeks from cystic acne a few years ago, which you can´t see I think. That is the main reason for me doing these peels. Milder peels & Retin-A use have improved my skin, but the residual stubborn dark marks respond best to TCA peels in my case!!!
AFTER 1st LAYER OF 15% TCA:
I experienced (as expected) significant burning & a feeling of heat on my face (aiming a blow drier on low setting and cool temperature helps!), but only minimal redness. Two spots on my face (middle of forehead, and side of chin) frosted.
AFTER 2nd LAYER OF 15% TCA: (2nd layer applied 5min after 1st layer)
I experienced significant redness as well as a feeling of heat on my face. I got a pretty even coat of frosting almost everywhere on my face, which is a desired effect of TCA. It looks like a white cast (as on my cheeks & chin) or white dots (forehead) on top of the redness on your skin. There are different levels of frosting - a deeper, professionally done peel can even cause the skin to appear solid white.
I look sad because you are supposed to keep a straight face during the peel. It actually felt like my cheeks would crack open if I had attempted a smile! Also, the pain & the smell of the acid made my eyes tear up lol. Also, my face was extremely painful to the touch!
Btw, when you frost, you do not apply another coat, which is why I left out the areas that already frosted after my 1st layer. When you achieve a nice level of frosting (which is a result of the denaturation of the keratin in the skin), this is the end-point of the peel. It´s not absolutely necessary to frost (lower % TCA peels more than likely won´t cause frosting because they don´t penetrate deeply enough), but frosting may lead to better results.
(In the picture below I had splashed my face with cool water, which helps the redness & pain to subside faster)
AFTER: (about 30min after the application of the 2nd layer)
The frosting is completely gone, the redness has subsided quite a bit. I would expect my skintone to be back to normal in about 90min after the peel (like it was after my last peel). The pain is entirely gone, I can touch my skin with no problems. And I can smile again now
As recommended, I applied a coat of neosporin to my face after taking this picture.
I will continue to post pictures in this thread, but they won´t be very exciting. My skin will start flaking (and peel in some areas) in about 2-3 days from today, and get tight & crepey before it starts flaking. From past experience, my skin will flake for at least 7 days.
Even though some pictures in this thread may be a bit scary, a 15% TCA peel is considered to be in the low to medium range (in professional terms at least believe?), and therefore will cause only flaking and light peeling.
Edited by Andi - 12/7/10 at 3:46am