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12.5% and 30% TCA At-home Peels

Skin background: fair, acne-prone, combination...

skin background:
fair, acne-prone, combination skin, slight freckling (mostly on forehead, nose, and upper cheeks), broken capillary under nose, acne scarring (mostly on lower cheeks), blackheads

expectations/ reasons for doing peels:
improvement of shallow to medium-depth acne scars, blackheads on nose area, and freckles

purchased:
12.5% for about $20, and 30% for about $30, both from MUAC.

pros:
-- improvement on depth of scars
-- freckles are less noticable
-- skin lookes overall more "clean" and fresh
-- pore size seems smaller and definite reduction in blackheads and clogged pores
-- lessening of reddnes left over from acne

cons:
-- about a 10 day total turn around time
-- discomfort while the peel is on
-- a few pimples immediately after peel


process:
i found that the brush that i'd received from MUAC would absorb and hold onto too much of the peel soluion, so i opted to use a q-tip instead. i prepared my skin by using retin-a every 2 to 3 days, and an AHA and BHA daily, for about 2 months. before applying the peel all over my face, i did a patch test with the 12.5% just below my ear, and waited 24 hours. there was no burning sensation or peeling. the MUAC website suggests starting with the weaker 8% solution, but i decided that i wanted to start with something slightly more abrasive, as my skin had been "toughened up" from using the AHA and retin-a.

immediately before applying the 12.5% peel to my whole face i washed it with the non-soap cleanser they sent with the kit. this cleanser is VERY drying, much moreso than anything i would use on a regular basis, but this it to remove all trace of oil from the skin, in order to ensure that the peel comes in contact with the SKIN, and not the OIL on the skin. i thoroughly dried my skin, and swiped the peel on in back-and-forth motions, making sure not to apply the solution to the same area twice. i started with my forehead and moved downwards, to the temples, nose, upper, and then lower cheeks. i was careful to avoid the nose openings, eye area, and lip line, as peeling in those areas would be extremely uncomfortable.

i waited 5 minutes and then rinsed with a soultion of baking soda and water. immediately upon applying this neutralizing solution it DID sting a big more at first, before neutralizing. during the peel, the pain level was medium. if a 1 is not feeling anything and a 10 is crying and screaming in pain, this would be rated at a 6 or 6.5. i would reccomend having a fan aimed at your face during the 5 minutes the peel is left on. after applying the peel, it takes a couple seconds for the burning sensation to begin, and when it starts is when it is the most intense. i did not experience any frosting with 1 layer of the 12.5%, and by the time i washed of the peel, it was hardly burning at all. after patting my face dry, i applied a triple-antibiotic ointment.

results:
the next morning my face felt basically normal, maybe like a slight sunburn. by the end of the day and into the next, day 3, my skin felt a little tight, and would get dry if i didnt apply a moisturizer. i did NOT apply moisturizer continuously, as i wanted to make sure my skin was going to peel as much as possible.

using 1 layer of the 12.5% peel, my face peeled only slightly on my chin, and nowhere else. this was around day 4 or 5.

i waited 1 week, and following the same steps as above, applied 2 layers of the 12.5%, waiting 5 minutes in between, and then an aditional 5 minutes before neutralizing. i noticed frosting on my cheeks, forehead, and temples, not so much on my nose or chin. there was more discomfort with the 2nd layer, but it quickly subsided. again, i followed up with the triple-antibiotic ointment.

if day 1 is the day of the peel, by day 2 my face felt tight and sunburnt. day 3 it remained tight and sunburnt feeling, pink looking. day 4 i started peeling a little, in tiny flakes here and there. all peeling was finished by day 10. i felt like i could go out in public again on day 6 without anyone noticing. but i waited till after the 10 days to start wearing makeup again, as the MU would make the tiny peeling parts of skin more noticable.

waiting at least a month in between the 2 layer 12.5% peels, i completed 3 of those total. i still have plently of the solution left, maybe enough for 2 or 3 more 2 layer peels.

i waited 3 months, and then recently i've done a 30% 1 layer TCA peel. i followed the same steps as above. compared to the 2 layer 12.5% peels, i noticed faster frosting, and frosting of all areas the peel was applied. it burned maybe 10 or 15% worse than the 12.5%, maybe a 7 or 8 on the pain scale. nothing too terrible, but it DID hurt. i was glad when it was time to rinse, thats for sure :) again, i followed up with triple-antibiotic ointment.

day 2 left me with pink, tight-feeling skin, day 3 was the same, and by day 4 my skin was starting to peel. on days 5 and 6 my skin was peeing off in bigger "sheets" of skin, as opposed to the smaller flaky pieces with the 12.5%. since the skin came off in bigger pieces, it didnt take as long to finish peeling, and the total turn around time was only 8 days. while i was in the middle of peeling the scabbed skin was a brown color, and i DID look like a burn victim. next time i'll take pics.

final results:
scars have been improved by maybe 30 to 40% or so, in my opinion. friends have noticed a difference. after the first 2 layer 12.5% peel, one friend commented that my skin "looks so squeaky clean and fresh!". there has been definite lightening of red spots and freckling, and pores seem smaller and are no longer clogged at all. i WILL say that, perhaps from the skin not being able to "breathe" while it was scabbed up, i did get a few pimples, but i'm careful not to pick at them, and they arent leaving any more scarring.

future plans for skin improvement:
i have an appointment for a photofacial in a few days (yay, groupon!), to help with remaining freckles and reddness, so we'll see how that goes. i plan on doing a few more 30% TCA peels, spaced a month or so apart, and then taking a break for a while, maybe 6 months or so. i am also dermarolling with a 1mm roller 1x a month, 2 weeks or so after peels.

PLEASE NOTE: do NOT "help the peel along", even when in the shower! you dont want to pull at the skin at ALL! pat skin dry, and during peeling continue to wash with a drying cleanser, in order to optimize the results. if your skin feels itchy or tight, moisturizing helps. DON'T SCRATCH! also, it's VERY important to do a patch test 1st, to see if you're allergic to the soultion! and please start with a 12.5%, at least!

your face skin is exposed for all the world to see! dont be careless with it!

myself, purchased from MUAC

although i did the peel myself, the instructions provided by MUAC were very thorough and helpful, and their customer service is awesome.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait tmes
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Comments (2)

Wonderful review. Thanks for all the details.
  • Reply

Hi Lacey,

This is a great review that provides the community with so much info, I love it. Your info about the skin type at the beginning is super informative too. We'd Love to see pictures.

Thank you and enjoy Wednesday!

-Britt

  • Reply