TCA Peeling Instructions: For The TCA-Curious (Before & During Peeling)

Are you thinking about trying a TCA peel on your own at home?

Have you tried a few at-home chemical peels before and found yourself getting better and better at taking care of yourself during the process?

Are you interested in finding out the safest and most effective way to perform a TCA peel so your skin will look and feel its best without being at risk for significant side effects?

If any of this sounds true of you, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll help you understand everything you need to know about how to perform a TCA peel at home and what to expect from the process.

TCA peels are usually done to help deal with pigmentation issues as well as problems related to fine lines, wrinkles, scarring, and acne. This is a medium to strong type of chemical peel, depending on the percentage of TCA found in the formula you use, and therefore it’s a little tougher than some of the other similar chemical peels out there on the market.

With that said, remember that it’s very important to be careful when performing a TCA peel at home. You should not try more than two or three layers of treatment without help from a licensed and trained professional. And if this is your first time, be sure you choose a formula with a very low TCA percentage for best results.

By keeping all that in mind and following the TCA peeling instructions listed below, you should be well on your way to a safe and healthy peeling experience in no time.

Before the Peel

  • 1
    Before your peel, you should treat your skin with a healthy skin care regimen for some time. Take good care of your face before you ever start thinking about doing a chemical peel. You may want to ask your dermatologist for more information about how to treat your skin for the weeks leading up to your peel. Retinol, vitamin C, and SPF are all important to helping your skin look great before, during, and after your peel. These can also help your peel work better, too.
  • 2
    Right before your peel, make sure you wash your skin thoroughly. Use a gentle cleanser and not something that is designed to exfoliate your skin, and be sure you wash with lukewarm water for best results. This will keep your pores from opening too much while still encouraging your skin to be clean and ready for the peel.
  • 3
    TCA peels can be very painful. If you have one done by a professional, you will receive a local anesthesia and you may be given a sedative to knock you out, too. However, you won’t have this option at home, so be sure you take some painkillers before you begin and give them about an hour to start working.           Ibuprofen and Aleve are both good options for this, as long as you don’t have any other reason not to take them. If you cannot take either of these, take extra-strength Tylenol. No matter what you take, be ready to follow up with a second dose when the first one runs out, since you will likely still be experiencing pain at this point.
  • 4
    Gather everything you’re going to need and get yourself a timer. Understand that the amount of time you leave the chemical on your face will depend on the severity of the problems you’re trying to treat as well as how many chemical peels you’ve had in the past. If you’ve done this before, you can probably start at about 3 minutes and work up to 5 minutes over the course of several treatments. If this is your first time, start with one minute for best and safest results.

During the Peel

  • 1
    During the peel, you will spread the TCA onto your face in layers. If this is your first time, you should always begin with one layer to see how your skin will react. Go up in layers from there.
  • 2
    At one or two layers, you should spread the TCA on, leave it for 1 to 3 minutes, and then rinse it off with lukewarm water and a very gentle, non-exfoliant facial cleanser that does not contain any type of acid (even salicylic acid).
  • 3
    Pat dry (do not scrub) and treat your face with a gentle moisturizer.
  • 4
    If you’re going to use three to five layers, you should speak with a dermatologist or skin care specialist first to ensure your skin will take to this much treatment well. If so, you can go ahead, but be sure you work up to this. It is highly recommended to only receive three or more layers of TCA treatment under the supervision of someone who is licensed and trained.
  • 5
    Keep your face relaxed and do not make any facial expressions while peeling at this level. Understand that your skin will turn brown and shed off over several days.
  • 6
    No matter how many layers of TCA you use, never peel or tug on the skin, never pick the skin, and never exfoliate during the peeling process. Any of this will cause severe scarring and may leave your face looking much worse than it did to begin with.
  • 7
    Give yourself plenty of time to rest and recover after the peel.


There is a lot of important information to keep in mind when you’re going to be trying a chemical peel on your own at home. This is not something you should do if you’re a beginner, and even more experienced people who use superficial peels regularly tend to avoid doing TCA peels without help from a doctor. However, you can make this happen in a safe and risk-free way as long as you are very cautious, take your time, and know what you’re doing.

If you still have questions or concerns, be sure you speak with your dermatologist or another skin care specialist to help you out. And remember that there’s no shame in going to your dermatologist for your first TCA peel to see how it’s done, either. This may help you get a good idea for how you’re supposed to perform the procedure so that the next time, you may be better at trying it on your own. This type of treatment is very powerful and may have a lot of potential side effects, so don’t do it if you do not feel comfortable with your own abilities.


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