TCA Peels: Days 5 and Onward

What to expect on the 5th day and onward from a TCA peel |

Now that you've prepped your skin, got a TCA peel, and actually started peeling, I'm sure you're thinking "Finally! How long am I going to peel and how much am I going to peel?"

I'll try to answer these questions by walking you through the TCA peeling process from day 5 and onward and give you an idea about when you should start seeing results.

Days 5-10: When does your skin stop peeling?

Days 5-10 are basically peeling, peeling, and more peeling.

Depending on the strength of the TCA peel, you can peel for up to 3-5 days. With a 12.5% TCA peel, I am usually done peeling by day 7 but still have dry skin flakes all the way until day 10. The peeling process is actually quite cathartic because it can get really frustrating being cooped up inside the house for so many days with a dead layer of skin sitting on your face.

To help the peeling process along and to make your skin feel more hydrated, you can stick your face under running water in the shower. Damp skin tends to peel faster than dry skin, but don't rub any dead skin off. Let it come off on its own or you risk exposing red and raw skin to the elements before it is ready.

In these few days, you must continue to moisturize your skin, drink lots of water, and avoid the sun.

Be patient! You're almost done.

Days 10+: Long term TCA peel results

On day 10, you should be done with the majority of the peeling. Finally, you look more normal and can go outside and breathe some fresh air! Your face also no longer feels tight and funny whenever you talk or smile.

Your skin may look slightly pink (your normal skin color will resume in the next few weeks as your skin continues to recover) and you may have little bits and pieces of skin that are still peeling, but your complexion should feel smoother and look brighter.

The results from a TCA peel are sometimes not very dramatic. Take myself for an example. After going through so many days of red, peely, itchy, dry skin, I was super excited when I started to peel. But after I finished peeling, it felt anticlimactic. I thought, "That's it?! I went through all of that and it didn't even completely get rid of my acne marks!"

So, try not to expect too much from one TCA peel. Some of your old pigmentation spots and fine wrinkles may look better, but you might feel disappointed that you didn't get better results. However, don't worry. Your skin will gradually improve in the next few weeks after you finish peeling. It takes time for your skin to heal and recover and it takes multiple TCA peels to get your desired results. You are not going to get perfect skin from just one peel. If you do see good results after one peel though, you don't have to get more done.

How you take care of your skin after you finish peeling is as important as how you take care of your skin during the TCA peel. Two weeks after you finish completely peeling, you can resume any AHAs, BHAs, or retinoid treatment products. After you peel, you still have to wear a good sunscreen because your "new" skin will be extra sensitive to the sun. You can get another peel done one month after you finish completely peeling. However, after three consecutive TCA peels each spaced one month apart, your skin needs a break for 3-6 months before you do another peel.

Days 5-10 of a TCA peel are when your skin is winding down. You finish peeling and start to feel more normal. You may not see results immediately, but over time, the TCA peel will definitely help rejuvenate your skin.

Aside from knowing what happens during the entire TCA peel process, it is important to educate yourself about potential side effects and risks. Did you break out after a TCA peel? Do you know what type of skin isn't suitable for TCA peels? Read the next section to find out more!

Last updated: September 22, 2012

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Side Effects and Precautions for TCA Peels