The 5 Best TCA Peels (2020 Update)

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Today, I’m going to discuss the best TCA peels (my top pick is Platinum Skin Care TCA Peel).

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is an excellent peel for skin rejuvenation and is especially useful for procedures like TCA CROSS which helps reduces the appearance of ice pick scars.

TCA is also used to soften wrinkles and fine lines, fade hyperpigmentation, and the general maintenance of healthy, smooth, and glowing skin.

ⓘ Let’s help you find the right TCA peel for your skin concern and budget!

RELATED:

What Is The Best TCA Peel?

Here are my top picks for the best TCA peels:

  1. Best Overall Peel: Platinum Skin Care TCA Peel 7-13-20-30
  2. Best Budget Peel: Perfect Image TCA 15% Skin Peel
  3. Best Advanced Peel: Planet Eden 25% TCA Peel
  4. Best for TCA CROSS: Platinum Skin Care TCA Peel 30
  5. Best for Anti-Aging: Perfect Image Revitaboost Peel Pads
Best TCA Peels - Pinterest
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1. Best Overall Peel: Platinum Skin Care TCA Peel 7-13-20-30

Summary: Platinum Skin Care offers varying levels of TCA for dramatic anti-aging benefits at very reasonable prices.

Best For: Wrinkles and Fine Lines, Hyperpigmentation, Sun Damage, Inflammatory Acne, Acne Scars

TCA Concentration Guide:
7% – Eyes
13% – Face
20% – Advanced
30% – Body or TCA CROSS

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Platinum Skin Care TCA Peel 7-13-20-30
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Platinum Skin Care is my top pick for an effective and affordable TCA peel. With over 800+ reviews, their TCA peel is one of the bestsellers on the market and offers 4 different concentrations:

  • 7% TCA – For Eye Peels
  • 13% TCA – For Face Peels
  • 20% TCA – For Stronger Face Peels
  • 30% TCA – For Body Peels or TCA CROSS

Now, TCA is normally considered a medium peel, when using a low concentration (13% or 20%) in multiple layers or when using a high concentrations (30%) in single layers.

Beginners should start by using 13-15% TCA in monolayer which is considered a superficial peel.

In terms of skin penetration, a medium TCA peel can reach the upper layers of the dermis before it self-neutralizes (that’s right – you don’t need a separate neutralizing solution!).

To help illustrate this, the diagram below shows the depth of TCA penetration:

Depth of Chemical Peel Penetration - Annotated
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Now, let’s talk about safety for a minute. The first step is to make sure you’re getting the right TCA peel for your concern and experience level (when in doubt, start with the lower concentration).

If you are considering a high concentration TCA peel (50-100%), you should be aware of the risks: studies have shown that higher TCA percentages have a greater risk of side effects, including discoloration, scarring, and infections (source: A Practical Approach to Chemical Peels, 2018).

In fact, it is actually safer to perform a low concentration TCA peel (15-30%) using multiple passes (layers) to achieve similar results to that of a higher concentration TCA peel.

In most cases, you should expect to see flaking and redness in the following days, with complete exfoliation in 10 to 14 days (source: A Practical Approach to Chemical Peels, 2018).

In terms of peel application, here is a great tutorial video by dermatologist Dr. Davin Lim:

Platinum Skin Care also has a wealth of information on TCA here and here. 👍

Finally, if you have a darker skin tone, there’s the concern of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) as a possible side effect of using a TCA peel. There are ways to reduce this risk, such as:

  • Preparing your skin with a melanin inhibitor (such as Meladerm) for 2-3 weeks beforehand
  • Using a lower concentration like 13% TCA
  • Applying retinoids or AHAs to thin the stratum corneum and increase acid penetration

My Verdict: Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) is an excellent, but often misunderstood, chemical peel for wrinkles and fine lines, pigmentation disorders like melasma, acne and acne scarring, and the general maintenance of healthy, smooth, and glowing skin. Platinum Skin Care offers a variety of TCA peels for different concerns and experience levels in 1.0 oz (set of 6 vials) and 2.0 oz bottles.

2. Best Budget Peel: Perfect Image TCA 15% Skin Peel

Summary: Perfect Image offers an effective, affordable TCA peel at $29.95 for a 1.0 oz bottle.

Best For: Beginners, Great Value

Key Ingredients:
15% Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA)
Salicylic Acid
Botanical Blend

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Perfect Image TCA 15% Skin Peel
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Perfect Image is another fantastic option for your first TCA peel. They actually have two TCA peels, 15% and 25%, but the latter is restricted for medical professionals, so I’ll just cover the first one.

As we discussed previously, TCA is normally considered a medium peel, when using a low concentration acid (15-30%) in multiple passes or a high concentration acid (30%+) in monolayer.

But when applying a low concentration acid like 15% TCA in a single pass (layer), as demonstrated by Dr. Davin Lim in the tutorial video, it becomes a superficial peel that is safe for beginners.

In addition to TCA, Perfect Image included Salicylic Acid to help unclog pores and fight blemishes (helpful if you’re experiencing breakouts or feel congested), while a blend of Botanical Extracts provides soothing properties to reduce irritation and sensitivity from the peel.

Perfect Image TCA 15% Skin Peel Ad
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These botanical extracts include:

Overall, Perfect Image makes an excellent TCA peel that’s a bit cheaper than Platinum Skin Care at $29.95 for 1.0 oz compared to $38.00 for 1.0 oz (set of 6 vials), respectively.

And while you’re shopping there, I also recommend adding their Premium Peel Application Pads (made from high-quality rayon) to help you apply the peel evenly and a recovery product like the Sea Whip Cucumber Detox Soothing Gel (with hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, and allantoin).

Exclusive Discount: Perfect Image is offering my readers a 15% discount on all orders with the coupon code DERM15 and shipping is free on orders over $20. 🤑

My Verdict: Perfect Image TCA 15% Skin Peel is another solid option for a beginner peel on a budget. You can even put the money you save into a cleanser, moisturizer, or accessory at Perfect Image.

3. Best Advanced Peel: Planet Eden 25% TCA Peel

Summary: Planet Eden provides a powerful 25% TCA Peel for fading wrinkles and fine lines, age spots, acne scars, and uneven tone.

Best For: Step-Up From 15% TCA

Key Ingredients:
25% Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA)

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Planet Eden 25% TCA Peel
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If you’re not getting the desired results from 15% TCA peels (and you’ve tried using multiple passes to simulate a higher concentration peel), you may want to consider moving up to a 25% TCA peel.

This is closer to what you might get at a dermatologist’s office (e.g. TCA 35%, with or without a pre-treatment agent like Jessner’s solution) and provides stronger results for anti-aging, scarring, pigmentation, and coarse skin texture (source: A Practical Approach to Chemical Peels, 2018).

25% TCA is still considered a medium peel and you should expect up to 2 weeks for full recovery, including side effects such as peeling, redness, swelling, and/or blemishes (source: Planet Eden).

It’s also perfectly normal to see more frosting than usual during the peel process.

Again, make sure you’ve done lower concentration TCA peels (5-15%) before upgrading to this one. Also, those with darker skin tones should be aware that high strength TCA may cause dyschromia (either hyperpigmentation, i.e. darker areas, or hypopigmentation, i.e. loss of color).

My Verdict: For a stronger TCA peel, consider moving up to Planet Eden’s 25% TCA Peel.

4. Best for TCA CROSS: Platinum Skin Care TCA Peel 30

Summary: TCA CROSS is a clinically proven technique for getting rid of your ice pick scars.

Best For: Ice Pick Scars

Key Ingredients:
30% Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA)

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Platinum Skin Care TCA Peel 30
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Do you have ice pick scars scattered across your face, left behind by years of acne? (I know I do)

RELATED:

Ice pick scars are typically characterized as narrow and deep punctures that look as if someone poked a toothpick into your skin (ouch!).

Fortunately, there’s an effective treatment for ice pick scars that you can do at home: TCA CROSS.

This technique, called Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) Chemical Reconstruction of Skin Scars (CROSS), applies high concentration TCA using a wooden toothpick into the base of each ice pick scar.

The resulting chemical reaction destroys scar tissue, induces inflammation, and causes your body to repair itself by creating more collagen, elastin, and new skin tissue, to fill in the wound. 👍

Over multiple sessions, your ice pick scars will become smaller and less noticeable. In one study of 10 patients, 8 showed 70%+ improvement while the remaining 2 showed 50-70% improvement after 4 sessions of CROSS using 100% TCA (source: Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, 2010).

Now, for at home purposes, I recommend using 30% TCA to make sure you don’t damage your skin. This is recommended by Platinum Skin Care and they also have an excellent video on TCA CROSS:

In addition, here is dermatologist Dr. Davin Lim again, this time sharing his views on TCA CROSS:

My Verdict: TCA CROSS is a clinically proven technique for removing ice pick scars. You can do one yourself at home with Platinum Skin Care’s TCA Peel 30 (choose 30% under Select Strength) or consult with your dermatologist about this inexpensive procedure.

5. Best for Anti-Aging: Perfect Image Revitaboost Peel Pads

Summary: Perfect Image has another TCA product, Revitaboost, that uses a unique 5-acid blend to rejuvenate mature skin.

Best For: Wrinkles and Fine Lines, Age Spots, Dull Skin, Uneven Tone

Key Ingredients:
TCA
Glycolic Acid
Mandelic Acid
Malic Acid
Citric Acid
Botanical Extracts

Get It @ Perfect Image

Perfect Image Revitaboost Peel Pads
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Aside from a regular TCA peel, you can now get the benefits of TCA in convenient peel pad format, along with four additional alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), for multiple levels of exfoliation power.

The Perfect Image Revitaboost Peel Pads feature a unique 5-acid blend to fight signs of aging:

  • TCA: provides medium-depth penetration to the upper dermis to smooth out skin texture and stimulate collagen production to improve the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
  • Glycolic Acid: the smallest type of AHA that removes dead skin cells, increase cell turnover, and exfoliate damaged skin, such as acne scars, dark spots, and expression lines
  • Mandelic Acid: a very gentle AHA that penetrates skin slowly and is suitable for sensitive skin
  • Malic Acid and Citric Acid: additional AHAs derived from apples and citrus fruits, respectively
Perfect Image Revitaboost Peel Pads Ad
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In addition, Botanical Extracts provide antioxidant, skin brightening, and soothing properties:

  • Ylang-Ylang (essential oil, aromatic)
  • Rooibos (red herbal tea, antioxidant)
  • Yarrow (soothing, healing)
  • Willow Bark (a natural source of salicylic acid)
  • Green Tea (soothing, antioxidant)
  • Cucumber (nourishing, hydrating)
  • Chamomile (soothing, anti-inflammatory)
  • Comfrey (soothing, anti-inflammatory)

Finally, all Perfect Image products are gluten-free, cruelty-free, and made in the USA.

Exclusive Discount: Perfect Image is offering my readers a 15% discount on all orders with the coupon code DERM15 and shipping is free on orders over $20. 🤑

My Verdict: For a convenient anti-aging boost, the Perfect Image Revitaboost Peel Pads are a great way to incorporate TCA into your skincare routine, as well as additional AHAs like Glycolic Acid.

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