tca peel

TCA Peel: A Complete Guide to Benefits & Uses

Are you thinking about getting a TCA peel but aren’t sure if it’s the proper skin care treatment for you?

TCA peels are a type of noninvasive skin care treatment used to treat various skin ailments. These peels can help with discoloration, scarring, wrinkles, and more. Read our complete guide on TCA peels to learn about their benefits, uses, and more. 

Related: A Simple Guide to Acid Peels

What is a Chemical Peel? 

A TCA peel is a kind of chemical peel. So, what exactly is a chemical peel? A chemical peel is a skin treatment that chemically exfoliates the skin. These peels range in depth from superficial to medium to deep. 

Superficial chemical peels only exfoliate the top layer of the skin, while medium and deep chemical peels go into the skin’s dermis. Superficial peels help with tone and texture irregularity, while medium and deep peels help tighten skin and diminish wrinkles and fine lines. 

Related: Best At-Home Chemical Peels 

What is a TCA Peel? 

On the other hand, a TCA peel is a type of peel that uses trichloroacetic acid. TCA peels can either be superficial, medium, or deep- it all depends on the concentration of TCA in the peel. 

It also depends on whether or not TCA is combined with other chemicals, such as salicylic acid. A superficial TCA peel typically contains 10 to 30% TCA. A medium TCA peel typically contains 30 to 40% TCA, and anything with 50% TCA or above is considered a deep peel.

TCA Peel Benefits 

So, what are the benefits of getting a TCA peel? Here are some things a TCA peel can help with

Acne and acne marks  

One of the most significant benefits of a TCA peel is reducing acne or acne scars. TCA peels exfoliate deeply into the skin, resulting in a temporary reduction in blemishes and a permanent reduction in the appearance of acne marks. 

However, it’s essential to understand that TCA peels cannot address the root cause of acne. Because of this, TCA peels are usually not recommended to treat acne. Instead, they’re recommended to deal with the side effects and leftover damage that acne causes. 

TCA is a very effective post-acne scarring treatment, as it simultaneously improves the skin’s texture while reducing postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. In fact, one study found that TCA peels were more effective at removing acne scars than microdermabrasion and micro-needling. 


TCA peels can also combat hyperpigmentation. It can lighten all types of hyperpigmentation, including dark patches, freckles, acne spots, and melasma. 

Sun Damage

No matter how careful you are about applying sunscreen, everyone experiences sun damage to some extent. TCA in any concentration effectively reduces sun damage, as it helps remove age spots that are a result of sun exposure. 

Additionally, it improves the tone and texture of your skin. TCA peels can also help improve skin hydration and elasticity, two critical markers of undamaged, youthful-looking skin. 

Are you wondering how you can soak up the sun without the damage? Click here to find out

How do TCA Peels Work?

TCA peels work by dissolving cells in the top layer of the skin, also known as the epidermis. The skin that has been affected peels off and new cell growth is revealed underneath. Once the top layer of skin has peeled off, a brand new layer is revealed beneath it. 

Often, this new layer of skin is smoother and contains fewer imperfections (such as wrinkles and scarring) than the previous layer. 

Preparing for a TCA Peel 

Before you get a TCA peel, there are a few things you need to do to prepare depending on the strength of TCA peel used. Your skin will need about 4 to 10 days to heal after the appointment, so make sure you don’t have anything major coming up in your calendar. 

Additionally, you may need to discontinue using certain products a week before your treatment, such as retinol and retinoids. 

TCA Peel Procedure

One of the significant benefits of a TCA peel is that the procedure is simple and straightforward. In total, the whole process takes about 5-30 minutes

You’ll need to show up to your appointment without any makeup. Once you arrive at your appointment, you may be given a sedative or painkiller, depending on the depth of your treatment. 

Next, the skincare specialist will apply a protectant to the corners of your nose, eyes, and lips. Then, the actual peel will be applied to your face using a gauze pad or cotton tip applicator. You’ll likely feel a tingling, warm sensation on the treated areas. 

The number of layers of peel applied will depend on your skin’s reaction and the desired depth of the chemical peel. Once the desired endpoint has been reached, your skin will be cooled off with cold water. Then, the specialist will apply a thin balm to protect the skin, and the treatment will be over.

TCA Peel Aftercare

Following the appropriate aftercare steps will help your skin heal properly and allow you to get the best results. Your skin care specialist will explain the aftercare procedure to you, but typically, you’ll be instructed to cleanse and moisturize your skin with gentle products. 

You’ll likely experience peeling for the next 4 to 10 days, but it’ll all depend on the depth of the peel. Avoid picking at the skin when it peels, as this can lead to poor healing, infection, or dark spots. You should also avoid sun exposure as much as possible while your skin is healing. 

Once your skin has fully repaired, you can resume your regular skincare routine. 

Related: How Often Should You Get a Chemical Peel?  

How to Do a TCA Peel at Home

If the above preparation and aftercare sounds like too much work, we’ve got some good news for you - you can also do a TCA peel at home!

By doing a TCA peel from the comfort of your home, you don’t have to deal with setting up or going to appointments. Plus, at-home TCA peels are a lot more affordable. 

There are many options for at-home TCA peels, so make sure you do your research to find the right peel for you. Look for peels with effective skincare ingredients, such as salicylic acid, lactic acid, pumpkin enzymes, or glycolic acid.


Now that you know more about TCA peels, it’s time to decide if this skincare treatment is right for you. Before undergoing any new treatment, we advise speaking with your dermatologist first.

If you’re looking for some great at-home skincare products to improve your skin, check out our at-home peels!

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