They say summer bodies are made in winter and the same is true for your skin. The cooler months are the ideal time to head to your preferred beauty clinic (oh hi, Contour Clinics in Brisbane!) and get all those treatments to perfect your skin for the warmer months. One of the best treatments you can sign up for when the temperature drops is a chemical peel. To try to get that goddess glow I love so much, I signed up for a series of peels at Contour Clinics. And because the most oft-asked question I get from people when I tell them I have peels is: “Does it hurt?” followed closely by “Does it work?”, I thought I’d give you a rundown on the whole shebang,

What is a TCA Peel? 

Dermal Clinician Charlotte from Contour Clinics has the lowdown on exactly what a TCA Peel is and what it does. “TCA stands for trichloroacetic acid (which is a derivative of vinegar) is a chemical peel used to improve the appearance of the skin,” she says. “It works by exfoliating the outer layers of the skin, promoting skin cell turnover, and stimulating collagen production.” 

Benefits of the peel include: reduced pigmentation (aka those pesky brown spots that aren’t freckles but are annoying), improved texture of sun damaged skin, fewer fine lines and wrinkles, increased skin elasticity and hydration, and even improvement with stubborn melasma. 

“Dermaceutic’s chemical peels are the number one peels performed in France!” Charlotte says. 

Why is winter a good time to get a peel? 

Winter really is the perfect time to get a peel. When you undergo a chemical peel, it does exactly what it says and peels off the upper layer of the skin. This leaves behind skin that’s new as a bebe, leaving it way more sensitive to UV rays, heat and other general damage.

 But when we hit the cooler months, people aren’t outside basking in the sun quite as much, plus the UV rays are ever so slightly less damaging because the earth tilts away from the sun. (But that’s only a TINY bit less, so definitely still pop on sunscreen and reapply through the day). 

My TCA Peel journey at Contour Clinics Brisbane

After a skin consultation with Charlotte to talk about my goals (reduction in melasma, more glowy skin, reduction in post inflammatory hyperpigmentation aka scars from me picking my skin) we formulate a plan. We decide on three TCA Peels spaced four to six weeks apart to allow my skin time to heal and get stronger before we go again. 

IMG 6446
Before. Much melasma, tired eyes, post-inflammatory pigmentation.

We start slow with a 12% peel from French brand DermaCeutic. I am given a little fan because apparently this may sting a little. On the first pass, it feels ok and then OOOOH things get a little spicy. Then I am given the OK and I am allowed to fan myself, which definitely helps take the sting out of things. After about a minute (I think? Time moves slow when things hurt) we pop on the neutralising solution and my face begins to cool down.

Charlotte says I had some good frosting (which is apparently a good thing meaning the skin is being exfoliated away). I look in the mirror and I am definitely quite pink. We pop on some soothing treatment and sunscreen and I am on my way. All in all the actual peel process from start to finish (including facial cleanse beforehand) takes about 15-20 minutes. 

I’m given a list of dos and don’ts post peel.

DO: use lots of SPF and stay out of the sun; pat skin try after cleansing; moisturise to the max; wait a minimum of two weeks before another treatment. 

DON’T: Break a sweat while you’re healing (oh no, no exercise, darnnnnn); exfoliate; pick or peel the skin, no matter HOW much you might want to because interfering with the healing process could lead to bleeding or scarring; use active ingredients like retinol until the skin is healed (also it’s recommended to stop using it a week before the peel as well). 

After the peel

Immediately after the peel I am quite red, but that’s nothing new; I go red from just a simple eyebrow wax. The next day my skin is kind of shiny and quite tight. I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb but friends tell me they didn’t even notice anything was different so thanks, I guess? 

A brunette woman with a painful expression on her face and sore red face.

About day three is when the Crackening starts… My skin starts to crack and flake off to reveal baby smooth pinkish skin beneath. This is when the true hard work starts, because it takes every fibre of my being to not pull the dry skin off. 

It takes about a week and a half for the peeling process to be completely finished. The first few days I would consider true “downtime” as I was very flakey. After that, I just made sure I moisturised and put on SPF before I went out and most people didn’t notice.

Four weeks later I go back for my second peel, and this time we bump it up to the TCA DermaCeutic 15 per cent, having seen how well I reacted to the 12 per cent. Then in my third peel, we do multiple passes over the same areas, which promotes a stronger peeling process and hopefully more rejuvenated skin. 

A brunette woman with peeling, flaking skin
Oh hey there, peeling cracking skin.

After the third peel, there’s more downtime than the first, and I have some scabbing in areas. Luckily these are around my chin and I wear a mask when out and about and no one is the wiser. 

The verdict

I cannot tell you how pleased I am with my skin post-peel regimen. After the first peel, my skin seemed brighter and firmer. Some of my pigmentation is a little lighter and some superficial scarring from me being a little too pick-happy is gone already. 

Left: a brown haired woman with pigmentation and eye bags. Right a smiling brown haired woman with less pigmentaton.
Before and after. Pigment much lighter and skin still has texture but my GOSH it looks so much more youthful.

After the second and third peel, my pigmentation is markedly lighter around my chin, and some fine lines I had (I am talking to you, number 11s between the eyebrows) are totally gone. The biggest difference I notice is my skin’s elasticity. Where my thirtysomething skin had been feeling a little lax lately, now it is bouncy and firm again, even around my eyes. 

I think I am going to make winter peels a yearly thing from here on in. 

Contour Clinics Brisbane, 414 Logan Road, Stones Corner. 1300 233 803

Elizabeth Best

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