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I Do my Own TCA Peels and Am Loving It!

My motivation for doing a TCA peel was to remove...

My motivation for doing a TCA peel was to remove some old sun damage, scaring etc etc....the pros are my skin looks lovely! The scaring has faded to a bit of nothing, the sun damage, hyperpigmentation are history! The only con to a TCA is the burn, but I'm a tough one and can handle it for quite some time with no fanning. I just do the "omg this hurts like hell" dance :-) I didn't take photos as I didn't know I would be asked to do a review. But there you have it...I am in love with TCA and why pay a "pro" when I can do it myself?!?! This economy makes it hard to spend hundreds of dollars on something I can very easily accomplish myself. It may not be for everyone, but for me it's a face saver. I'm 45 and pass for 29-30ish ... Yep, that makes it worth it. Plus my kids and hubby tell me I'm lovely (after the ugly phase of the peel) I also do glycolics in between the TCA's for maintenance. So 15% TCA (5 min, wash off, add again for 5 min, wash off, all done) wait a month and do a 50% glycolic, wait a week and do another glycolic, and yet another week, do a glycolic, then I step off for 6 months ...then a TCA. So that's my routine. Oh and one more thing...After a TCA peel, I keep cold water on my face for about 30 min (I'm very fair skinned and am one who's skin turns brown after a TCA) then I apply a light coating of vaseline all over my face. I leave it on until morning, use CeraVe face wash and gently wash my entire face, then on goes the vaselene again. I do this until I'm almost done peeling. I also hide like a vampire during the day, but if I MUST go out, I slather CeraVe SPF 50 face lotion all over (like TONS!) just to make sure I get good coverage. Hope this helps! I'm in the ugly brown phase of my current TCA peel now so maybe I'll post "after pics" later. Enjoy!
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Hell yea! to all the TCA'ers. its the easiest way to youthen your skin and fkuc paying a surgeon hundreds! Its easier than microderming yourself or dermarolling.
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I know that dance...and it includes a whole slew of baaaaaad words! lol I used 25% TCA, though...and yes, it burned like a mofo! I looked like Freddy Krueger. Ew! I haven't done it in 10 years, but I'm about to do it again soon. Just researching it again and working up the nerve (and trying to find the time to hide!). ;)
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That's the one! I linked it just to be sure we're looking at the same one. http://www.sephora.com/vinoperfect-radiance-serum-P94421 I really saw a difference with it. I was surprised any of these things worked at all. Because of the price I was hesitant to purchase it again, but I’m almost out and have to admit that it does work, so shall be picking up another bottle the next time I go to the mall. I am trying to recall exactly when I purchased it, and I think it was about two months ago. My bottle looks like it has about another two weeks’ worth. Two drops and spread over my face. The first month I used it morning and night. The second month just in the morning as I had switched over to retinol night cream by that time. I agree with two layers in some areas. I just did another 15% TCA three days ago. This is what I did. It’s a LONG post, but I want to be as thorough with my experience as possible for you. I just have to caution you I am not a professional or anything, and am also adjusting what works for me. So far, this has worked and am happy with the results. My supplies: - 15% TCA with 5% salicylic acid by Perfect Image http://www.amazon.com/TCA-15-Gel-Peel-Professional/dp/B006ZENPYS - Fan paint brush The paint brush I used is a size "2" Loew-Cornell fan brush, about 3/4" wide at the tip. The shape looks like this: http://thumbs2.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/m/mMG_Zxjsaq7ob0jhFo5Fpjw.jpg My bristles are synthetic. I don't think any of that matters though, and I would just hit the local craft store and pick up a brush. Mine came in a set that I had from years ago. I got the idea of using a mini fan brush because I use a larger fan brush (same brush set) to apply my clay mask. Made sense to me to switch to using a small fan for the TCA. It is much easier than any cotton pad, or q-tip etc. - Alcohol for face prep. I have 91% I keep to disinfect all my makeup products and brushes and stuff. So that’s what I used. I also disinfected the fan brush when I gather up my supplies and let it air dry while I’m fussing. Takes only a few minutes to dry, or buff it dry on a tissue or something. - Five or so Q-tips – small handful. - Spa-type face sponges. I got mine from Sally's. I use these sponges to rinse every time I wash my face. LOVE THEM! Also really reduces the mess of “splashing/rinsing” at the sink when I wash my face. No matter how try to avoid it, water always used to run down to my elbows. So annoying! lol http://www.sallybeauty.com/exfoliating-cleansing-sponges/SBS-168306,default,pd.html - Small spray bottle filled with water. This is what I keep on hand just in case my face suddenly has a bad reaction and I can immediately neutralize the TCA. Splashing water works, too. http://www.sallybeauty.com/spray-bottle/SBS-198240,default,pd.html?cm_vc=SEARCH - A timer of some sort, a clock, your phone etc. The first time I did it I used an “old school” clock from the hallway with a ticking moving second hand lol I wanted to be ON THE SPOT about timing. This was no time for a phone screen to lock up while your hands are busing applying acid on your face. - Neosporin and a really heavy moisturizer. The moisturizer I apply is a “natural” cucumber product I picked up at WalMart at sometime along the way. So I had it around and figured natural = good on acid’d face, so I used it. That, and I didn’t want to waste my $$$ products on skin that is going to peel off. I want the really good stuff, like Caudalie, on the skin that is sticking around! Lol http://www.yestocarrots.com/product/yes-to-cucumbers-soothing-daily-calming-moisturizer?product_id=3321001 My procedure: - Washed my face twice with a normal, regular, gentle face wash. I used Philosophy “Purity” for this step. I have other face washes, but this is the one when I want a ‘gentle’ wash, not exfoliating. So anything that is just the regular face wash, nothing added, nothing acne driven, etc. Face wash. Done. - Cotton ball’d my face with alcohol, being sure to get remove all traces of oil and dirt. --- While the face air-dried--- Headed to the bathroom with my supplies…. - Took two full dropper fulls of TCA and put it in a small glass. I have these votive candle glasses that I used (cleaned of course). So like a shot glass will do. But I was certain to use glass. I figured that would be the best to avoid any chemical reactions that may occur with the TCA. I don't know if it is possible, I'm not a chemist, but I was just being safe. My TCA comes with a dropper, so I am thinking it each dropper is about 1 teaspoon, so total of 2 teaspoons was good for two layers of application. I’ll explain that more in a minute. - I laid everything out on the bathroom counter. I left the Neosporin and moisturizer at my vanity in my bedroom though. - Setup my timing device, the clock, on the counter. - Pulled all my hair back out of my face. Washed my hands. Again. - When the time was where I wanted to start, i.e. 8:05 exactly, second hand on the 12, I started. I knew I was going to time a 3-minute application. To start, I dipped the fan brush into the small glass with the TCA and applied to a small section, think like 2”x3” sections, and spread that out, dipped again, “painted” a 2”-ish area again, and so on. You want to ‘see it’ on your skin, but not have it dripping down your face. It just sets up as an even layer, not ‘goopy’ so as to drip, but not so thin as to have little-to-none effect. The first time I applied it my layer was so thin I barely peeled in some areas. Instead of peeling in these areas, I had to scrub it off because the skin wasn’t ‘burned’ deep enough to produce a good peel. At least that’s my theory as to what happened. Standard application is to avoid the eye area. No lids, no under the eye etc. (I do under my eye for my ‘grungy’ lower lids, but for the purpose of this post, I am leaving it out. Let me know if you want more on that because it is a different experience) TECHNIQUE TIP: You have to work rather quickly, but deliberately. Don’t go slapping it on and having TCA splatter around and possibly land in your eyes, lips etc. :) I practiced my technique first with plain water a few times before I started until I was somewhat comfortable with the way the water ‘covered’ my face. The consistency of the TCA is a little heavier than water, but it was close enough for me to gauge what I should expect, like dripping etc. - After that first layer was on, I went back and quickly applied another thin layer. I then put the brush down on a clean Kleenex tissue, already ready for this purpose, and grabbed a Q-tip, dipped it in the TCA, and went back to my larger hyperpigmentation areas.. I’m talking the ones that are “there” not the pin-head spots, and started applying more TCA to those spots, lightly feathering out the edges into the underlying TCA layer. BE MINDFUL of the time. At this point you should be about 1 1/2 minute (90 seconds) into a 3-4 minute TCA. I wouldn’t push this for your first time. As this is your first time you will feel tingles probably at about 1-minute. But all skin is different and people have different pain tolerances. You can always do another TCA in a couple of weeks. Slow and steady is the way with TCA. (Hey that rhymes!) - WHAT TO EXPECT: Tingling. Then a burning sensation. This is acid. On a face. This is a chemical burn of the skin on the face. Burning may produce an uncomfortable experience. Discomfort is okay, pain is not. So listen to your body and if it HURTS rinse it off. What I feel is something like this: “oooo, a little owie, yep, I’m feeling that, wow, this really stings but I’m okay, I didn’t expect this is what it would feel like, but I’m alright.” Listen to your body. :) - WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Frosting. You may/should see some frosting. Basically, have you ever dripped super glue on a surface and it ‘frosted’? That’s sort of what the frosting will look like, and it will/may cover larger areas. Google images for TCA frosting, it helped me to know what to look for. For me, when I add the second layer, I get frosting on my chin, and those spots I went back over with, with the Q-tip. From what I can read and understand, the frosting is a really good indicator that the TCA is working well. However, I have also read a couple of stories where the frosting really ruined someone’s skin. AND STILL HOWEVER, that person self-applied a 50% TCA… so… yeah. Anything can happen. This last time I did the TCA a few days ago, I let my application ‘frost’ for 4 minutes and haven’t had a bad experience with it yet using TCA within the boundaries of 15% and only 3-5 minutes. - After 3 minutes I soaked my sponges and gently neutralized/saturated/wiped off the TCA, rinsing the sponges often and repeating. This is my third application, so I am comfortable at 3 minutes now. You may only want to leave it on for 1-2 minutes. The first time I just used my fingers and hands, just rinsing and repeating, careful not to get anything in my eyes etc. Make sure you rinse the sides of your nose and any creases well where the TCA could have seeped into. Hairline and under your jaw are other areas to pay special attention to when rinsing the TCA off. We are so focused on what is in front of our eyes in the mirror, that these areas can be overlooked. SECOND APPLICATION: - After the first application was gently rinsed off and gently dried, I waited a minute and applied a second application all over my face again as a thin layer, like a foundation layer, and then I *really* focused on my problem spots: Two areas on my forehead, my chin has a couple of areas that are annoying… couple of areas on the sides of my face, by my cheeks etc. I applied more heavily in these areas, again feathering edges out with the fan brush. - Now, as this is my third time using TCA, I have built up a small bit of confidence and tolerance. I left this second application on for 5 minutes. I would *not* have been able to do that on my first experience using TCA as I was lacking both confidence and tolerance. Listen very carefully to your body, if your body says “Get this off of me!” at 1 minute, then get it off! :-) If your body talks at 2 minutes, then take it off at 2. I wouldn’t push it more than that for your first time. My first time I could only go to 2 minutes on the second application. The second time I did a TCA treatment, it was 3 minutes. This time, my third time doing a TCA treatment, it was 5 minutes. And I am going to stay at 5 minutes and no more. I haven’t read anything (yet) that indicates that the longer you leave it on past 5 minutes the more it does in terms of effectiveness… damage, maybe, but not effectiveness. I like to play it safe. Patience will pay off. - After all the applications I gently patted my face dry with a clean face towel. I use old cloth napkins, 100% natural cotton. I don’t like terry cloth ‘fuzzies’ on my face, and terry cloth frizzes my curly hair, so I repurpose my old cloth dinner napkins to my vanity. - I applied Neosporin to my full face the first night. Waited a minute for that to soak in, so to speak, and then applied a heavy layer of moisturizer over it. I tried not to rub it in, but more like set it over the Neosporin. This was best achieved with using much more moisturizer than usual. During the day I use a moisturizer and sunblock in one that I picked up at Sephora. I have oily skin, so I use Sephora’s mattifying moisturizer and sunblock in one. http://www.sephora.com/8-hr-mattifying-moisturizer-sunscreen-P378257. Boscia makes a really good one as well, costs a little more, and I actually prefer the texture of Boscia’s, but it left my face oily after a few hours. Gave it to my niece. - Second night post-application I still applied Neosporin and moisturizer at night, same as the day before. Sunblock/moisturizer in the morning. I am figuring that the Neosporin will help the skin to heal more evenly and mitigate any infection issues. I hardly think infection is a concern with such a superficial peel, but I know Neosporin is supposed to speed up healing time and also to help wounds heal more ‘neatly’ and evenly, so I am applying that logic to my face. Lots of people commented about using Vaseline. Uh, no thank you. Heavy, oily, clogging and without any additional medical benefits, so I went with Neosporin instead – that’s my own twist and I like it. A doctor would prescribe a version of burn cream. I am familiar with it as I had a really bad burn on my thigh as a kid, but I don’t want to start playing doctor with prescription meds on Amazon. Neosporin works just fine. - Second, and subsequent nights, I apply (applying) the same Neosporin/cucumber moisturizer, quite heavily at night, and the sunblock/moisturizer in the morning. I start to cut back on applying the Neosporin on my full face around post-day-3. I continue to use it on focused areas, like my chin, as it tends to over-react to the TCA, and also the “apples” of my cheeks are more sensitive. Basically, any area that turned really red during the TCA application, I follow up with neosporin for several days. Again, not a doctor, but that’s my logic if an area got red, then it needs more attention. - Fast forward to peeling: Peeling for me really gets good and satisfying on Day 6. Like I commented previously. - If you are using any Retin-A,retinol etc type products, I read that you need to put those on hold for about 7 days after peeling. Just give the skin a rest with those products and allow it to adjust some. You can resume those types of products at that time. - You must use sunblock every single day. Even if overcast. And you’ll continue using it forever and ever and ever and ever and ever for as long as you care about keeping your skin in its best shape possible. :) Well that’s it. I just wrote a novel. LOL
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When using a 25% TCA, would the instructions above apply, as for the 15%TCA? I've not gone w/2 applications yet. I use one application, going over the area twice...and leaving on for 3 minutes. This time I've had peeling in areas and flaking in other areas. I'm thinking I haven't applied it as evenly as I should. I tried the neosporin...great idea...much more soothing!. I'm on post day five...with some areas not wanting to budge too much from the crinkling stage...I'll be patient and not force the peeling.
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Thank you so much. This is highly informative an helpful.
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Hello, would please post your "under eye for ‘grungy’ lower lids" please? I have dark spots on my lids also and want them off. I'm a first time tca-er. Help, please.
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Thnaks for the great tips! Question: Do you ever get any splotchy areas? I have a couple of splotchy areas near my "apples" close to the nose that have been improving with heavy nightly moisturizer. Do you get anything like that?
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Hi, I am really considering doing a TCA peel to get rid of stubburn brown apots. I am considering trying 15%. Can you possibly let me know how long did it take to start peeling and how long is the downtime? Thanks for sharing your grest experience!
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My 15% TCA peeling started on day 4 with a little bit of flaking/dry spots. On day 5 I had a little bit of peeling on my chin area. That was a little grody. :-p On day 6 is when the real fun began and the peeling was well under way. A lot of other people that I read also reported a good bit of peeling on Day 6. By day 8 all was mostly done. At day 6 I started lightly scrubbing my face in the shower because the moisture helps to get it lifted off. I experimented between moisturizer and no moisturizer, thinking that if I let my skin 'dry out' it would peel faster. Actually, quite the contrary. The moisturizer helped it peel faster and more evenly. Definitely keep the daily/nightly moisturizer. Added bonus is that I still went to work with a heavy layer of moisturizer, followed by face powder to sort of hold it all together. My face looked a little 'off' on days 5 & 6 but I am in a critical position at work and wouldn't dream of taking off just because of my appearance when my brain and body worked just fine. If you work and want to take the time off I would time it for days 5-7 post application. That's when most of the action takes place, at least the two times I did it 5-7 are peeling days. There isn't any downtime at all with a light superficial peel. Not in the way lasers, or deeper peels would produce some REALLY intense peeling like your face was falling off! 15% TCA is more like the light peeling after a sunburn. Also, I continued to use eye makeup daily. I omitted foundation and used just the powder over moisturizer cream. You must use sunblock daily. So, I layered in order: Moisturizer, sunblock, powder. I now use a moisturizer with sunblock built in, so that saves me a step these days. Use something for the face from the cosmetic aisle, not a 'beach' type of sunblock. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. I am blogging about my technique and experience with 15% TCA here: http://www.realself.com/review/online-purchase-from-amazon-tca-peel-15-applied
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Thanks so much for your answer Jeanne! Your feedbacks definitely helped. I have just ordered the TCA peel online and now need to figure out when to do with my work schedule. I am looking forward to it and finally getting rid of my uneven skin tone! (My heavy nightly moisturizer does not help with these brown spots, neither did countless IPL sessions, fractional laser, YAG, targeted CO2 laser, and the list goes on!).
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I hear ya. I found an awesome, amazing face 'brightener' by Caudalie. Pricey as heck, but worth every penny in my opinion. The TCA won't knock out all the spots on the first application. It will take 3-5 really, and you will have to space them out because the skin needs time to sort of regenerate the sloughed off layer. So basically you're burning off the top layer of skin, and so the skin, as a natural organ, is going to want to 'heal' itself from the burn. That process can take up to 21 days. I would definitely wait at least a week from the last day of peeling before doing another TCA. If you do the peel too frequently, the skin never has a chance of properly finishing it's healing cycle, so you cut if off mid-cycle and you run a serious risk of it never recovering from it. That's when you start getting permanent damage like collapsed structure, scarring that takes years to restore from -- if at all. So, slowly, but surely is the way with this. Now, as for what to do while you gnaw at your nails anxious to for the time to do another peel is use a skin brightener, like Caudalie (~$70-80) from Sephora daily. Just a few drops will do you. I used it day and night and saw results. However, it did get to a point where it could only do so much because some of my hyperpigmentation was deeper than a topical could reach. That's where the TCA comes back into play, exposing another layer, and then you do the brightening serum again while waiting the healing cycle out. :) And don't forget to use sunblock from Day 1 and from now on forever and ever. The sun's rays is what is a significant contributor to hyperpigmentation... so avoid it!!! Sunblock, large hats, find the shade. I used to soak up the sun thinking that it would help darken my face and even out the splotches. I was such an idiot lol I live in Hawaii and I'm like, "Nope, never sun bathing again. Beaches? Who needs 'em?!" lol I have never done any of those other treatments -- I'm scared of the negative risks with my dark skin tone. But I'm so glad 15% TCA has been listed as being 'safe' for dark tones. Good luck!!!
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... show of hands, who hates catching typos and improper grammar *after* you post? ;)
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Hahaha!! I'm definitely raising my hand, and high!! But hey, I think in things like this where we are having a conversation people realize we're all typing fast and writing conversationally, so I hope no one would be so particular as to judge it. :)

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lol Exactly! But when Facebook added the 'edit' feature to comments, I was like "ABOUT TIME!" so I could feed my grammar control freak urges in a safe environment ;)
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Thanks for your great tips and information! I have searched for the Caudalie brightener on Sephora.com. Is it the Vinoperfect Radiance Serum? I have tried many brighteners over the years (like Murad and other brands) and was not satisfied with those so far. It will be good to try one that has been tried and recommended. One last thing, I am considering applying 2 layers in specific areas. Would you know the proper process? Thanks again and no worries about the typos!! It happens to all of us! :)
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