There’s nothing quite like the feeling of when TCA begins to denature and coagulate your skin cells. As you watch the clock, the TCA burn intensifies; you grab your blowdryer hoping the power is on and it’s set to cool. You can barely think, let alone take a breath, and your mind is racing; “I’m on fire “, “did I go too far?”, “Should I splash water?”. Before you splash water on your face, you notice the burning sensation is beginning to subside. It’s been nearly 5 minutes since applying your swab of TCA acid. Your first layer of TCA is now complete.
Are you ready for another? lol
TCA + SALICYLIC
Salicylic acid comes from willow bark. It’s a Beta-Hydroxy Acid “BHA” and fat-soluble which allows Salicylic acid to penetrate into oily pores. Given Salicylic acid’s keratolytic effects (meaning its ability to break up skin bonds), increases it’s popularity as an effective superficial peel. Salicylic acid peels induce injury by thinning or removal of the stratum corneum.
In addition, SALICYLIC ACID potentially enhances the penetration of TCA.
Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) penetrates into the skin and denatures the protein keratin. Depending on the strength of TCA you will see a whitening in the skin, which is the result of the TCA coagulating “cooking” the protein.
The extent of damage is indeed concentration-dependent. Concentrations range from 10 to 50%. Superficial TCA peeling is induced by concentrations of 10–30% whereas higher concentrations cause medium depth or deep peeling. The combination of salicylic acid followed by TCA 10–15% induces superficial wounding.
In this Youtube video, I share the most intense acid peel I’ve ever done. This DIY TCA 30% + 5% Salicylic peel is advanced. This is not a beginner peel, and further this peel is not good for people who have olive and darker skin tones; check the Fitzpatrick scale below. Remember, just because I did this does not mean it’s the right peel for you.
If you have darker skin, anything greater than a 3 on the Fitzpatrick Scale, then you should avoid ever going above a 15% TCA concentration. The reason this combo peel came to exist was in response to helping those with skin types 4-6 with acne scars, photodamage, and melasma. In 2002 Pearl Grimes reports that a combination of 20%-30% Salicylic Acid + 10% TCA in a series of 4 peels performed every 2 weeks, showed a 70% improvement in darker skin types without causing post hyperpigmentation. You can read more about this here
TCA tightens and brightens the skin and it improves surface texture. Salicyclic acid cleans out pores and aids in breaking up skin cells in order to bring newer fresher skin to the surface.
The combination of salicylic acid and TCA 15% is also an effective treatment for mild to moderate photodamage, acne, and melasma in types I–III. Moderate to excellent improvement has been observed from people who had 4 of these combo peels done at 2-week intervals. Hence, the combination salicylic acid/TCA peeling protocol can be used in all skin types.
STEPS: DIY TCA 30% + 5% SALICYLIC ACID PEEL
The following process is simply steps I do. This does not mean you should do them. I realize my disclaimers are exhausting but you would be surprised by the comments I get on a daily basis:)
Please be a responsible adult and make educated decisions for yourself.
STEP 1: I take 4 Ibuprofen before I start. This helps me with pain and swelling.
STEP 2: Degrease your skin. Acid will not penetrate oil. In order to get a fat-free surface you need to do a thorough prep. You can purchase a peel prep solution or you can make one:
-1 part Pure Acetone
-1 part Alcohol
Combine and then swab face 3 times to make sure it is fully degreased.
STEP 3: Use Aquaphor to block and protect anything you don’t want the acid affecting.
Tattoos (on the other hand, if you want to remove a tattoo TCA can help)
Corners of Eyes and Mouth
STEP 4: Put on gloves. This is not for sanitation, this is to protect your fingers from peeling.
STEP 5: Time to saturate cotton pads in your acid.
Make sure to squeeze out extra acid from the swab to avoid dripping.
STEP 6: Patch Test on side of the neck near the ear. Wait 5 minutes. If you feel comfortable with the intensity and your skin’s reaction, then proceed.
STEP 7: Swab your face in a systematic order. A single saturated swab across your face is one layer. Set a timer for 5 minutes and wait. After 5 minutes your first layer is complete. Now you decide if you want to do a second and or a third layer. Always waiting 5 minutes between.
TCA and Salicylic do not need to be neutralized. These types of acids will run their course which is approximately 5 minutes and then subside. However, this concentration in particular is very intense and the burn is severe. Splashing cold water on your face will stop the burn because it dilutes the concentration of the acid.
STEP 8: I use a cue tip dipped in the TCA mixture to swab my upper eyelids. I have Aquaphor on my lash line and corners of my eye to ensure if any acid did migrate downwards it would stop due to the petroleum blocker.
STEP 9: Once you see a consistent frosting of the skin you stop doing layers.
STEP 10: Splash with cold water. The white frost on your skin will settle down after an hour and your skin will be red similar to a sunburn.
Now it’s time to be extra careful. The goal is to encourage the skin to shed but control it so it does not happen too fast. If your skin comes off too early it can leave red marks.
I like this burn cream immediately following my peel. It has lidocaine in it and helps minimize the initial pain. This will fade in the next few hours.
I use Aquaphor and SPF to ensure UV protection and lockdown my skin that is about to crack and break. I don’t want my skin to break early so I don’t wash my face.
Around the third night, I will begin applying Retin A to help promote the further desquamation of my skin that is shedding.
This apparently made the esthetic TikTok world go bonkers.
Lol I don’t think they can get enough
Around day 6-7 my face skin has shed. In my video, on youtube, I show the whole process.
Follow Me on TikTok, where I share day-by-day healing.
I have a grouping on my Amazon Storefront of the supplies and acids I have used.
(TCA is no longer available on Amazon as of Fall 2020)
I’ve been buying TCA products from eBay as I find them to be affordable and available.
SALICYLIC is still available on Amazon
After doing this peel I found the article about the combination of TCA with Salicylic. I think it has great insight and I’m thinking I want to do the 8-week protocol of every 2 weeks with the lower concentration of TCA and higher concentration of Salicylic. I want to do this series on my chest and see what impact I notice.
I hope this gave you additional insight on doing a DIY TCA 30% + 5% Salicylic peel at home and I hope you find the accompanying video entertaining and useful.
Have a great day xoxo