Question: What is chemical peel frosting? Is it safe?


Frosting is when parts of your skin turn white during a chemical peel. It happens when the surface of your skin is exfoliated away by the acidic solution.

Frosting generally doesn't occur during glycolic acid or lactic acid peels, but during deeper peels, such as TCA peels. Even then, frosting usually only happens when you get strong TCA peels (15% or higher) or layered peels.

However, whether your skin will frost will depend on your skin itself and what products you have been using. For instance, if you have never gotten a chemical peel before and have been using retinoids, your skin may actually frost during a medium-depth peel. Any places where you have skin injuries, such as scabs or picked pimples, will also frost more easily.

Frosting looks like something flat and frothy that you can't physically scrape off your skin. It's a bit hard to imagine, so here's a picture of frosting (and my very red skin) during a one layer 15% TCA peel:

TCA Peel frosting

Frosting from a chemical peel

Frosting may look really scary, but it is normal for medium depth chemical peels. Places where your skin frosts will actually be the places where you will peel (and brown) the most. This doesn't mean that you want to frost everywhere though. Places on your skin that frost usually scab over and take longer to heal than places on your skin that don't frost.

When frosting occurs, the chemical peel is usually neutralized immediately (with water or a prepared neutralizing solution) so it doesn't damage your skin any further. Letting your skin frost too much is bad, but some frosting is generally okay, as long as you take good care of your skin post-peel.

Last updated: September 27, 2012

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