What I Used: 15% TCA Skin Peel Enhanced with 5% Salicylic Acid 'and other botanicals' from "Perfect Image"
This post is a full documentation of what I did and went through in hopes it helps someone figure out their own way. :-)
After battling with my latest round of adult cystic acne I have finally gotten it down to a small whimper (Thank you Retinol!), but all the scarring remains and I am unnaturally addicted to my concealer (L'oreal C-6-7-8 is a perfect match to my color) . So, I got online (again and again) really trying to figure out what is going on. Have suffered my entire life and nothing sticks -- as soon as it works, it's like my skin decides to try a different attack vector:
- "So that topical works, huh? Well how about *now*?"
- "Oh, oral medication seems to be working, eh? Well not anymore!"
- "Oh so you've figured out the *Magical Face Regimen* of Wash-Tone-Treat-Moisturize-Sunblock twice a day and never skipping once? Yeah, I think I'll suddenly become allergic to that moisturizer you love!"
I tell you, out to get me. But I think retinol is going to be a long term solution -- finally.
And then I saw a blurb, "TCA Peel" and was intrigued. Then convinced. Sounded like this could help with the scaring with fast, lasting results.
A competent, accomplished Do-It-Yourselfer in all areas of my life, I decided to take this on. Truth is, I have held this TCA bottle all day, procrastinating, unsure of its application, effects, preparation. I have a healthy understanding of the risks involved. So should you. The horror stories are horrifying. The success stories are what I dream about. The warnings I heeded with compliance.
WARNINGS AND ADVICE:
- Just so happened to have already been using a retinol cream and a skin whitener for a few days before, AND it just so happened that lots of comments said this was good for face prep for positive results. So check. Done.
- Warnings heeded against anything harsh used on the face recently, no recent exfoliation etc. Look up online all the warnings about Accutane and others issues. I was good on these warnings so moved forward.
- Lots of warnings about "frost" and burns, post-application itching, and cracked/peeling brown skin, and red skin and a month recovery from a harsh treatment -- lots of mixed results for skin of all colors and problems. Most of them were good (and great!) results -- some were bad. Being a dark-skinned woman I paid special attention to other dark-skinned women with their new shocking pink-skin after treatment, and hold onto hope that what I read was true that the pink will subside if that happens to me.
- I looked at lots of videos about people on "Day 2" of their 50% acid treatment who could barely move their mouths, their face is stiff etc, and who, then, on Day 6 loved their new faces. And there are many more warnings AGAINST newbies starting off at 50% strength on the very first time out (which is my guess fror how that pink or angry skin comes about if you don't know what you're doing or you didn't expect it to happen since you didn't go to a professional who probably would have either avoided it from occurring, or told you about the potential for angry skin once the sloughing started). Lots of suggestions for newbies to start low at 10%, but I'm a tough cookie and – most importantly – I wanted results for all this effort! So I looked for 12% but Amazon only returned 15% in their results during that impatient search two days ago. And I received the 15% TCA Skin Peel Enhanced with 5% Salicylic Acid 'and other botanicals' from "Perfect Image" today (So exciting!).
- Stalled all day today before attempting the treatment, looked at more "Before and After" images and You Tube videos of experiences. Read more after care instructions. Read them again. Read the warnings again. Read the many ways to apply (again) and decided on one I thought I could successfully pull off. Read the great instructions, tips, cautions, advice and aftercare notes that came with the solution four, five times. Stalled some more.
DOING THE DEED (FACE PREP)
- Washed my face and neck twice with a face brush thingie. Round head, soft bristles and a face cleanser -- nothing harsh. I also wanted to somewhat relieve a bad spot of hyperpigmentation on my neck and a general 'kick' to my chest to lift some of the acne fading that was already well underway there, so I washed that all down as well.
- Cotton ball'd my face, neck and chest with 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol and ensured I got every trace of residual dirt and oil off. Went through several balls until I felt it was clean enough.
- While all the above alcohol’d skin was air-drying I got my list of items together and setup my work area:
> Just so happened to have spotlessly cleaned my vanity in my bedroom earlier in the day, so felt good about no dust or loose powders around to add to contamination concerns.
> Got several (~10) Cotton Swabs, a spray bottle with water and a handful of soft NON-terry-cloth towels -- They are actually old 100% soft cotton cloth napkins that I now use on my face to gently dry it. So got those. I figured they don't have any fuzzies like normal towels so that has to be good for a face that is about to have its skin acid'd off!
> Took the cotton swabs, the spray bottle and the hand towels and prepped them in the bathroom sink. I laid the cotton swabs all out on a papertowel (to protect surfaces from any acid drips) along with the TCA Skin Peel bottle.
> Got a gentle, ultra hydrating (mostly)-natural (cucumber etc) moisturizer ready at my vanity for post skin peel application and general fussing in the mirror.
> Got the neosporin out in case I felt I needed more than just the moisturizer after the treatment.
> Placed a very apparent clock with a moving second hand in the bathroom with me. This is serious stuff we're working with here, folks -- there is no time for an iPhone screen to lock up with your hands busy with ACID on your face!
DOING THE DEED (APPLICATION)
- Went to the bathroom where the cotton balls, the acid, spray bottle with water, second-hand-ticking clock, and hand towels were readied.
- I made note of the second hand and, based on advice, was going to move quickly so my face sat with the acid for about one minute at a time.
- Using one cotton swab per quadrant of my face, I dipped the swab into the acid -- I didn't jiggle it around in there, just dipped quickly until the head was fully submerged, then pulled it out and started zigzagging/wiping all over one quadrant of my face, spinning the swab when one 'edge' was out of solution. Finished that quadrant, quickly dropped the swab, grabbed another -- Dip, zigzag/wipe. Toss that one. Grab another swab -- Dip, zigzag/wipe and did my full face like that.
- I have a few problem areas in the photo I wanted to really get at so I added another dip/wipe over those areas along the jawline.
- By the time I was done it was 90 seconds. I started to feel a tingle -- the tell-tale sign it is working is the tingle so I neutralized my face by thoroughly rinsing with water -- mindful of nose creases, ear areas, hairline, just in case some acid slipped into these areas. I actually panicked a little at the tingling and spritzed my face with the water bottle before I remembered that I should be rinsing it off!
- After patting my face dry, I then did a quick pass of acid on my neck focusing on the hyperpigmentation problem in the photo-- I was cautious about overdoing it because I read the neck and chest are more sensitive and damage could occur if overtreated.
- While the solution sat on my neck, I quickly swabbed my chest. I let only a minute pass before I rinsed my neck, and then immediately after that I rinsed my chest. I read that even without the tingling and peeling the acid will help rejuvenate the skin, so felt I would just be cautious and not try to force it to the point of tingling for my neck and chest. Better safe than sorry. You can always do another treatment in a week for further results.
- So I decided I wanted to really get that problem area along my jawline, so I added another pass along the area, letting it sit for another full minute. And this time the tingling was more --well -- was just “more,” rather than just a faint hint. I felt that THAT pass would produce a result I would be encouraged with. Then I rinsed and patted dry.
- At this point my forehead was feeling taut, very smooth, and dry to the touch. Like a pre-moisturized forehead after a heavy duty exfoliation – the way the skin feels, like if you don’t get moisturizer on fast your forehead was going to flake. That’s how it felt. My face still tingled, and my chest was a little red, so I took all that as good signs of the TCA working.
- I double checked if I should use moisturizer or the neosporin and decided on the non-clogging, hyper-allergenic, paraben-free cucumber-derived moisturizer, and will use the neosporin tomorrow evening if things get really dry and tight. The moisturizer feels great on. The tingling settled down within a couple of minutes of adding the cucumber-derived moisturizer. Very soothing.
Right now it has been about two hours since I did the treatment. My face is moist to the touch, but if I squinch my face up (‘squinch’ is a made-up word), or frown my brow, I can feel a little tightening of the skin and see lots of teeny ‘striations’ in the skin which I surmise is an indicator of the acid drying (??) the skin. I don’t know how else to describe it -- it looks like it’s doing its thing :-) I don't think I'm going to have that dramatic paper-face peeling zombie-skin effect and results, but I do feel confident I will have some improvement -- enough to be encouraged to try it again until I (safely) achieve the results I'm looking for in just a few weeks.
And that’s where I end this for now. I will post an update tomorrow. Hope this helps someone.