TCA Peel 20% - Process/results 45 Yrs Old Fair Skin - 2 Layers W/in One Hour

Last year I had IPL, which was painful but did...

Last year I had IPL, which was painful but did earn me some results which I liked. My skin was much more even toned and many of the small freckles and tiny dark spots I had disappeared. In general my skin looked 70% better. I've always thought that I could tolerate pain well, but the "snapping" on my skin was very hard to bare. I actually cried through the procedure, which surprised me. Anyway, since then I've been researching other lasers to potentially maintain my skin. The cost has been a bit prohibitive, but not a deal breaker, still more than anything the potential of pain and complications I'd read about with Fraxel lasers and other lower strength ones even put me off. That's how I got to the TCA peel.
Regularly, I've been using a glycolic pad (15%) at night on a bi weekly basis to keep up my skin. I'd purchased Kerstin Florian intensive renewal pads (don't know if they are still available) years ago after a great experience at a spa wherein the technician used it on me. As you can imagine, I've had this product for years, so bi-weekly is probably an overstatement, but still my face has known chemical/acid applications, so that's a factor I believe that needs to be considered.
I decided on using TCA, due to the fact that it's a more serious peel than glycolic and lactic and had the potential of creating similar effects to a laser application at a fraction of the price.
I ordered from Amazon and settled on the Trichloroacetic Acid Solution TCA 20% by Erlenmeyer's Laboratory. After reading other reviews on RealSelf, I also purchased Bio Oil for post treatment.
As I'd read elsewhere I prepped my skin by washing and I used a non soap wash I have. Next I applied acetone and found quite a bit of oil and dirt came off. I did this twice. I then put on a pair of latex gloves and soaked two cotton balls with the solution. I applied it generously all over and included the lower lid area, especially focusing on the crows feet area. My eye corners are not terribly defined, but when I smile they tend to bunch up quite a bit. I have had Botox in this area about 3 months ago (very little actually), but it's worth mentioning.
The initial application burned, but not strongly. I kept it on about five minutes and watched my skin closely for changes. Other than a bit of redness and some tightness there was little effect it seemed. Still, I neutralized with a baking soda paste I'd made and then applied the Bio Oil and waited further for anything to develop. Within an hour it didn't seem like much had happened. With that in mind, I went looking at feedback I'd read about layering (or applying the solution multiple times). I decided to go for it, realizing I'd be frustrated if there were no results and unsure of what the issue was or if the product itself was bad.
I washed my skin of the Bio Oil and with gloves applied a second layer of the TCA. This time the effect was entirely different. Immediately the burn I experienced was much stronger. Similarly, this time I quickly saw the change in my skin or the frosting effect many mentioned. The frosting started on my upper cheekbone (by my outside eye) and then progressed to all over. I swathing in areas that didn't appear to change and they did as well. The burn was intense in parts, but not incredibly painful, maybe like a bad sunburn with tingling. I waited about five minutes again and applied the same baking soda solution to neutralize. Almost immediately the burning stopped. This time my face was very flushed and red. Just like many others have mentioned it looked like a bad sun burn. I applied the oil and went to do some work. In an hour I came down to the mirror to look at my face and noticed something like dark freckles had developed by the outer corner of both eyes. Not sure if this has anything to do with the Botox or what really, but you can see them in the picture I'm uploading.
Today is day 2 and I woke up to find my face less red. The tightness is there, but no peeling yet. Fingers crossed. I'll try to keep this updated.

Day 3 to 10

Well day 3 and 4 were about tightness and thin little skin fractures. Nothing serious, these were the cracks of a very thin layer of skin that was about to peel. I'd forgotten to mention that by middle of day 2, I developed a blister just on the outside of my mouth by my lips. It didn't hurt, but was bright red and is actually just now (day 10) settling down. You can see it in the attached pictures.
Back to skin tightness and day 4...As I read someone else describe it: it felt like my face had been painted with Elmer's glue and every time I would frown, smile or laugh I could feel it giving and cracking. I couldn't help myself, I had to then exaggerate it, by exaggerating my face/opening my mouth wide, in the mirror just to watch in wonder as my skin cracked here and there. Of course that was the very first skin to come off then, that which was around my mouth (for that same reason). By day 4 I was very crinkly and looked like a much older version of myself. It was interesting. My husband found it that way too and kept saying, 'so this is what you'll look like'. Some of the skin on my cheek had come off during the night and during the day as I would gently scratch it with the back of my hand. The skin that came off was very thin with light pink skin showing on the other side. Some areas of my face, where I had applied the most attention and times (creases around my mouth and crows feet) were the reddest and most effected. By day five I ventured outside with big sunglasses and a hat. I did take them off at a restaurant and know that I didn't look normal, nor was I exactly scary, just someone with really bad blotchy skin. I got a bit cocky around day five and started to remove certain spots that I had convinced myself were ready. For that I got a bit red spot on my nose that only started to go away yesterday. Similarly I had peeled a small bit by my eye and immediately regretted the red open skin that revealed. Still, that was really on a few spots that it needed to stay and most of it was gone by day six. If I had wanted to wear makeup and go out I would say that I could have comfortably done so.
So here we are at day 10...Am I still glad I did it and do I have the results I wanted? Well, yes I am glad I did it. For one, I am an experimenter and this suits me to be in charge of myself. It's not for everyone for that same reason. When a girlfriend of mine asked if I could do it for her, my answer was a straight "no". She should go to a doctor and have them oversee her. I don't know how to do that. I know my skin and I know the chance I'm willing to take and to what amount after doing a lot of research and weighing the odds. She hasn't done that work and I wouldn't want to assume the responsibility of it for her. I wanted to create collagen, do a deeper than superficial exfoliation and potentially get rid of some clogged pores. Since I'd had good results with glycolic in the past I wondered what the next level would look like and think that this was the next natural step.
Improvements are there in the form of some bumps I had that I just couldn't squeeze out on the side of my cheek, now gone. some of the freckles I had are definitely faded and I see improvement on crease next to my mouth and tightness around my eyes that was a nice surprise. I didn't however get the glowing white pink skin I was hoping for that I felt I had gotten from IPL a year and half earlier. I didn't lose all the little sun spots on my cheeks and nose, but some. Doing it next time I would like to do it under the supervision of a doctor if for no reason other then they'll know better what they are doing. I don't think I would try to do anything stronger than a 20% on my own and that's my level of tolerance for gambling with my face.

Products!! I forgot to mention.

First I used Bio Oil, which I had read someone had great success with. It is a mild light oil that was okay. By the end of day two I felt like my skin needed real soothing, which the oil was incapable of. I had a tube of LancĂ´me Nutrix laying around somewhere, which is the best richest most lovely cream in the world and able to sooth a sunburn like nothing else, but I couldn't find it to save my life. Instead, I used a cream a doctor had suggested when I was in Spain a couple of years ago (I had burned my arm) which had worked very well and this moisturizing cream did the trick. So, make sure you have something un-perfumed and moisturizing around that can soothe the skin.
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