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Ultimate Guide to non-neutralized TCA Trichloroacetic acid. 

Most already know of glycolic or salicylic chemical peels and products but TCA is the new acid you want to get better acquainted with because it is growing in popularity. Dermatologist have been using this next-level acid for decades and say it is better than the beloved glycolic.

Not sure what TCA is? Don't worry we have the ultimate guide to TCA for you, plus dermatologist formulated TCA Advanced Peel Solution available so you can get started with your at-home peel in no-time. Here is what you need to know to get started with a TCA peel. 

TCA or Trichloroacetic acid is a medical-grade chemical peel treatment which helps reverse sun damage, wrinkles, and acne in the skin.

TCA Trichloroacetic acid solution


What is Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)?

TCA is a strong medical-grade peel. A time-tested ingredient for dermatologists, a TCA peel is a cosmetic treatment that uses trichloroacetic acid (TCA) to improve the skin’s appearance. TCA is naturally derived from acetic acid (like vinegar). TCA is the next-level above glycolic acid and FDA approved Retin-A.

A TCA peel works by breaking bonds of the top layer of skin for natural exfoliation and the removal of dead skin cells over a few days. It also stimulates new skin cell and collagen growth for smoother, more attractive new layers of skin. TCA is used to achieve younger looking skin and to improve the appearance of certain skin conditions like melasma and acne scarring. TCA is mostly suitable for all skin types.

TCA peels are a medium-depth peel that penetrates deeper than glycolic, salicylic, and most of the other acids available over the counter without going to a dermatologist. TCA is a medical-grade acid and until Dermatologist’s Choice TCA Advanced Peel, TCA has mainly been applied in a dermatologist office or medical spa. TCA is an ideal choice for those with fine lines, scarring, acne, wrinkles, and pigmentation concerns. A TCA peel can help be the quick and simple solution for minimizing fine lines, sun damage, and acne scars to name a few. TCA is highly effective and can produce exceptional results, similar to visiting the dermatologist. These are influencers and models favorite chemical peel.

What are the benefits of a TCA acid chemical peel?
  • Minimize fine lines
  • Reverse sun damage
  • Treat acne scars
  • Effective against melasma
  • Reduces pigmentation
  • Minimizes age spots
  • Suitable for most skin types

In addition to the above, TCA peels offer a range of benefits including addressing uneven skin tone, discoloration caused by acne, sun damage, and age spots. These peels help smooth texture issues, improve and firm sagging skin, promote collagen and elastin production, and deeply penetrate the skin to target wrinkles and scars. TCA peels can be an effective solution for individuals seeking to rejuvenate their skin and address various skin concerns.

Why are TCA peels considered effective for treating fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and acne scars?
TCA peels are effective for treating fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and acne scars due to their ability to penetrate deeper into the skin and stimulate collagen production, resulting in improved skin texture and appearance.

How do TCA peels address dull and uneven skin texture in addition to other skin concerns?
TCA peels are effective for treating a range of skin concerns, including dull and uneven skin texture, by penetrating deeper into the skin and promoting skin renewal.

What is the typical recovery period associated with TCA peels?
TCA peels typically require a longer recovery period compared to other chemical peels due to their deeper penetration into the skin. After a TCA peel is applied most start to experience dry, flaky, and peeling skin after 3 days and usually skin concludes this process by day 7. Skin is refreshed and renewed.

How do TCA peels compare to other chemical peels in terms of strength and penetration into the skin?
TCA peels are generally stronger and penetrate deeper into the skin compared to other chemical peels like glycolic or salicylic acid.

Who is this peel for? 

TCA is suitable for most people at a concentration of 15% or less. Concentrations 15% or more are best applied at a dermatologist. Our dermatologist recommends the TCA Advanced Peel Solution for those who enjoy and have experience with non-neutralized glycolic acid. Those who have deep skin concerns can benefits from a TCA peel, compared to a lactic, salicylic, or even glycolic acid peel. Pregnant women should ask their doctors before using TCA. People with clinically irritated or dry skin should apply TCA with caution as TCA can cause dry skin after application and during skin purging. TCA is ideal for those with deep fine lines and cystic acne. Multiple sessions or applications may be required to get desired results. The Dermatologist's Choice TCA Advanced Peel Solution may be applied to the face, back, arms, shoulders, and legs. For areas where the skin is naturally thinner, (neck, eyes, hands, feet, chest) apply a thin layer of solution.

What is the Fitzpatrick Scale and how does it relate to skin tones and peels?

The Fitzpatrick Scale is a categorization system used to classify different skin tones based on their response to UV exposure. Ranging from Type I (pale skin that always burns and never tans) to Type VI (dark skin that never burns and always tans), each category has distinct characteristics that determine how the skin reacts to sunlight. In relation to chemical peels, the Fitzpatrick Scale plays a crucial role in helping individuals understand which type of peel is most suitable for their skin type. For example, individuals with lighter skin tones (Type I and II) are more susceptible to sunburn and may benefit from milder peels at first like Glycolic acid. On the other hand, those with darker skin tones (Type V and VI) are less likely to burn and tan more easily but an increase in hyperpigmentation is possible if the peel is too strong or applies wrong. Dermatologist recommend starting off with a mild peel like active non-neutralized glycolic acid is best for those newer to chemical peels and acids then working up to a strong chemical peel like TCA acid. By correlating specific types of chemical peels with different skin tones on the Fitzpatrick Scale, individuals can make more informed decisions about which peels are suitable for their skin type, thus ensuring safer and more effective results. It's important to keep in mind what your skin can tolerate and starting at a mild chemical peel like the Dermatologist's Choice Glycolic Peel Cleansing Pads can be the safest.

glycolic peel cleansing pads dermatologists choice

Is the Dermatologist’s Choice TCA Advanced Peel Solution safe?

Quick answer, yes. 

Keep in mind that TCA should not be used on those who have severely sensitive skin or those who have never used non-neutralized glycolic acid. 

Our Dermatologist recommends starting with a thin TCA application once a month. For those who have sensitive skin or never used non-neutralized glycolic before, our dermatologist recommends the use of Dermatologist’s Choice Facial Enhancement Cream or Ultra Anti-Aging Cream to build the skin’s tolerance to non-neutralized acids.

If the TCA or other acid is applied too heavily, skin may become red. Slight burning or stinging may occur. This is normal.  Our dermatologist has never seen a burn scar from it. It penetrates deep into the skin and will actually help achieve better results by lifting irritation and congestion in the deeper layers of the skin. To soothe redness or stinging apply lotion or oil on skin immediately. Several days after applying a TCA peel skin may flake, peel, or become dry or red. In a week, once the downtime has concluded, skin is typically looking its best – brighter, clearer, and smoother.

What skin types are suitable for TCA 10% and TCA 20% peels?

TCA 10%-15% peels are generally safe and suitable for individuals with all skin tones and types, especially those with normal to oily skin, as well as those with sun-damaged, dull, and uneven skin. However, it is advised to avoid using TCA 20% peels on individuals with medium to dark skin tones due to the higher risk of hyperpigmentation.

How do I know if the TCA is the best chemical peel for me?

There are several strengths of TCA peels, keep in mind allowing various formulations to work at different depths in the skin. The TCA formulation that will work best for your needs will depend on factors such as what you’re seeking treatment for and the extent of improvement possible in the treatment area. 

Dr. B. explains how to apply Dermatologist's Choice TCA peel.

Our Dermatologist’s Choice TCA Advanced Peel Solution is the best strength for at home use. This strength is commonly used in a derm office.  The other stronger strengths should be used only in an office setting. Refer to our website for further information. The Dermatologist’s Choice TCA Advanced Solution is the only TCA on the market that is not neutralized or mixed with other buffers or acids. Our TCA Advanced Peel Solution is in the purest form.

How can you maintain the results of a TCA peel?

To maintain the results of a TCA peel, it is important to keep the skin well-hydrated by using a product like Medpeel Hydra-Plump 2.5% Hyaluronic Serum regularly. Additionally, wearing sun protection with a minimum SPF of 30 is crucial to protect the skin from harmful UV rays. Using a suitable daily exfoliator, such as the Medpeel Glycolic 10%, can help in gently removing any peeling or flaking skin post-TCA peel while keeping the pores clear and the skin smooth. These steps will aid in sustaining the long-term benefits of a TCA peel.

Here’s the best way to begin, purchase the TCA Advanced Peel Solution and apply to a test area of skin before applying to the full face. For best results, target wrinkled skin and acne breakout with more frequent applications to desired area. Apply sunscreen enhanced moisturizer immediately after and avoid direct sunlight.

Skincare certifications and features

SHOP NOW: Dermatologist's Choice Skincare TCA Advanced Peel Solution, $199 

TCA Trichloroacetic acid solution
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