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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
Platinum Skin Care is my top pick and offers two high-quality mandelic acid peels:
The first peel is actually 20% mandelic acid plus 2% azelaic acid (a helpful skin brightening agent) and is best suited for sensitive skin, but also for teens and pre-teens to control acne breakouts.
If you've had a glycolic acid peel in the past, you should have no problems with 40% mandelic acid as the depth of overall skin penetration is very limited in comparison.
To help illustrate this difference, the diagram below shows the depth of mandelic acid penetration on the left (in yellow arrows) while glycolic acid penetration is shown on the right (in purple arrows):
(image courtesy: A Practical Approach to Chemical Peels, 2018)
As you can see, mandelic acid penetrates only the epidermis (the topmost layer of your skin) while glycolic acid penetrates through the epidermis and into the upper dermis layers.
Finally, if you're a busy person, or need to look your best all the time, mandelic acid is a great option as there's hardly any peeling, flaking, or redness, to speak of at all.
My Verdict: Platinum Skin Care offers two high-quality mandelic acid peels. Start with the 22% if you have sensitive skin or you're struggling with rosacea or teenage acne. Otherwise, you should be fine with 40% mandelic acid, especially if you're had glycolic peels in the past.
If you’re looking for a starter kit, Platinum Skin Care has you covered with their Salicylic Acid Kit.
This convenient set includes everything you need to get started:
This salicylic acid kit is perfect for beginners and should last you about 4-6 months. The only thing that’s missing is a post-peel recovery cream, and for that, I’d recommend two products:
In this video, Jen from Platinum Skin Care explains how salicylic acid works (it's an oil-soluble BHA), which acid concentration you should use (3% - mini, 15% - beginners, 25% - advanced), and what you can expect in terms of results and side effects (e.g. flaking, dryness, redness).
With regular use, the 15% salicylic acid peel can help clear up inflammatory acne, flatten pimples, prevent breakouts, and also reduce the appearance of post-acne marks and pigmentation.
My Verdict: For the ultimate convenience, Platinum Skin Care's Salicylic Acid Kit has everything you need to start peeling at home for healthier, smoother, and clearer-looking skin.
If you're looking for a starter kit, Platinum Skin Care has you covered with their Lactic Acid 50 Kit.
This convenient set includes everything you need to get started:
This lactic acid kit is perfect for beginners and should last you about 4-6 months. The only thing that’s missing is a post-peel recovery cream, and for that, I’d recommend two products:
In this video, Jen from Platinum Skin Care explains that lactic acid penetrates very superficially into your epidermis due to its large molecule size, making it a great option for dry or sensitive skin.
With regular use, lactic acid peels help improve many skin conditions, including hyperpigmentation, uneven tone, inflammatory acne, chronic dry skin, wrinkles and fine lines, and much more.
My Verdict: For the ultimate convenience, Platinum Skin Care's Lactic Acid 50 Kit has everything you need to start peeling at home for healthier, smoother, and more radiant-looking skin.
If you're looking for a more traditional liquid chemical peel (that offers amazing value for money), I'd highly recommend this glycolic acid starter kit by Platinum Skin Care.
Each starter kit includes:
When used regularly (~1x a week), a glycolic acid peel can help with many skin conditions, including hyperpigmentation, dark spots, melasma, inflammatory acne, chronic dry skin, and much more.
Chemical peels also help restore normal skin texture by promoting collagen and elastin growth, which can reduce the appearance of old acne scars as well as wrinkles and fine lines (source: A Practical Approach to Chemical Peels, 2018).
This glycolic acid kit is perfect for beginners and should last you about 4-6 months. The only thing that's missing is a post-peel recovery cream, and for that, I'd recommend two products:
Also, I should mention this starter kit includes a 2.0 oz bottle of glycolic acid, which is double the usual amount for a chemical peel. For a smaller size (1.0 oz), I recommend this one by Planet Eden which I recently bought for myself and found to be excellent quality as well.
Finally, customer reviews for Platinum Skin Care have been positive, with users commenting about brighter, smoother, and softer skin, with fewer blemishes and dark spots, after multiple sessions.
My Verdict: For beginners to chemical peels, I recommend Platinum Skin Care's Glycolic Acid Kit which includes a glycolic acid peel (choose 30%), peel prep solution, and post-peel neutralizer.