Do you ever wish you could take back that dinky little barbed wire tattoo you got one particularly drunken night?
If you’re trying to get into the military and your tattoo breaks the policy of your preferred branch, I’m sure you do.
But getting tattoos removed surgically (or by laser), as I’m sure you know, isn’t just physically painful — it’s financially excruciating. Because let’s face it. You’re probably either still in high school, or fresh out of it. Unless you have rich parents willing to cover the costs, you don’t have the pile of cash to throw at $100-per-square-inch of tattoo removal.
Here’s the good news. You don’t have to shell out $500+ (or thousands) for tattoo removal.
In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into an effective and affordable tattoo-eraser called TCA peels.
How affordable? $20 to $60.
But it’s going to take some DIY. Let’s dig right in.
If using a TCA peel scares you, you might want to check out an at home tattoo removal laser DIY kit.
We’ve personally tested and evaluated 3 of them, and this one is by far the best.
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What Are TCA Peels?
TCA stands for trichloroacetic acid. It’s an over the counter analogue of vinegar, used to treat scars, wrinkles, skin discoloration, and (surprise) remove tattoos.
Here’s how Dr. Rhonda Klein, MD of Modern Dermatology puts it:
“Trichloroacetic acid is a derivative of acetic acid (vinegar) and is used to remove the top layer of cells for a smoother, clearer complexion. The strength of TCA depends on what condition is being treated.”
Tattoo removal requires a strong solution of TCA. That is, a higher concentration of TCA in the solution.
Now, doctors use TCA peels to treat certain STDs, and because this treatment in particular is very painful, some people started spreading the myth that TCA is incredibly painful when applied to the skin.*
For tattoo removal (and many other treatments), this isn’t the case, as long as you dilute it enough.
If you pour 100% TCA peel on your hand without diluting it, it will burn. Bad.
This is a substance that warrants caution, but if you use it correctly (follow the directions), it produces good results.
How Do TCA Peels Remove Tattoos?
As rocket-sciency as trichloroacetic acid sounds, the tattoo removal itself is incredibly simple. Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Dab the TCA onto the skin that contains the tattoo you want to remove.
Step 2: Wait the proper amount of time and wash it off. Follow the instructions that come with your bottle of TCA to get the right time, as it varies.
IMPORTANT: Please note that these instructions are just to give you an idea of how the method works. This is not meant to replace the instructions you get with the TCA peel. If you didn’t get instructions with the bottle, your best bet is to talk with a doctor before moving forward.
Your skin will get inflamed, but it should NOT be horribly painful.
If it is, stop and consider addressing the concern with your doctor.
A little inflammation is actually a good thing.
Because when it becomes inflamed, the pigmentation rises to the top of your skin. And you know what happens to your top layer of skin every so often, right?
Yep. It sheds.
And when the skin containing the tattoo sheds, the tattoo sheds right along with it.
So not only did you avoid the annoyance of multiple visits to the doctor, but also the ridiculous cost of laser tattoo removal.
Is TCA Safe?
TCA is not 100% free of potential side effects.
A report from Harvard Medical School says the “side effects of chemical peels include redness, itching, peeling, increased skin sensitivity, and sometimes fragile and blistering skin.”*
Now, based on what people say in their reviews, the serious side effects are rare.
But — and this is important — there are many, many reviews and instructions that stress on how powerful it is.
It can burn and even scar if you don’t follow the directions closely, i.e. leave it on for too long, use too high or powerful of a dose without diluting it, etc.
You need to be careful.
There are very few cases of allergic reactions, but it’s worth mentioning that there are some. The instructions should have you test a small patch of your skin for an allergic reaction.
Overall, TCA is safe if used correctly.
Now that we’ve covered what it is, how it works, and the safety of TCA, let’s take a look at 3 of the best TCA products below.
3 Best TCA Peels
#1 – Platinum Skin Care TCA Peel
Average price: $40
Official Website: www.Platinumskincare.com
Platinum Skin Care is an organization with over 20 years of history providing some of the best skin care supplies on the market. They have a wide range of products including:
- Lactic Acid Peel 50
- Glycolic peels
- Salicylic peel
- Mandelic Peel
- Salicylic Peel Pads
- And most importantly, TCA peel.
They know their peels! For tattoo removal, you want TCA peel of course, but you’ll also need to choose the strength of your peel, and Platinum Skin Care gives you a number of options, from 7% to 30%.
How Does Platinum Skin Care TCA Peel Work?
Platinum Skin Care TCA Peel is well known and heavily used by most dermatologists because of the way it works; primarily its dependability in delivering top quality results.
That said, this TCA peel works just like other TCA peels. When you put it on your skin, it quickly and intensely exfoliates your epidermal connective tissues.
Meaning, it literally burns the tattoo off.
What Do The Reviews Have To Say?
The main thing that stuck out as I researched this TCA peel, was:
a) The number of people who bought this product and rated it well.
b) How few people rated it poorly.
c) The before and after pictures
The bad ratings are virtually non existent, which is pretty rare for a product that can produce such unfortunate results if you don’t follow the directions carefully.
Nearly every reviewer reports a 5 out of 5 star rating, and many of these verified buyers uploaded before and after images to show everyone how well it works.
It’s difficult to find bad reviews for this product, but we did find a few. The people who rated it badly all disliked it because either:
a) they were allergic to it
b) thought it might be too strong, or
c) burned their skin with a dose that was clearly too strong.
But again, the majority appears to love this TCA peel because of the results they’re getting.
Across the board, people are saying things like:
“Great product!!! I’m on my second peel now, will update soon…”
“I LOVE the product — super easy to apply!!”
“AMAZING peel, works great! Take the plunge! High quality but affordable too!”
For most people, I’d recommend this peel first and foremost.
The quality is evident, not just because of the organizations’ history and brand, but mainly because of what people are saying about it. Not to mention the images they’re posting to show proof of its effectiveness.
Where To Buy
You can pick up the Platinum Skin Care TCA peel on their official website here: www.Platinumskincare.com/tca-peel-13-20-30/
The price varies depending on the strength of the peel, and is broken down as follows:
- 13% Level 1: $38
- 20% Level 2: $40
- 30% Level 3: $54
It’s recommended that you go with the 30% Level 3 if you’re trying to remove a tattoo on your body.
If you have a tattoo on your face or neck area, definitely go with the 13% level.
In addition to the instructions included with your order, Platinum Skin Care also offers a variety of videos and other resources to show you exactly how to use the chemical peels.
Here’s just a few of them:
#2 – Dermalure TCA Peel 50%
Dermalure offers a range of anti-aging and skin care products, but most notably, the very potent TCA Peel 50%.
For tattoo removal, 50% is usually a better choice than lower potency bottles like 25% and below. These levels are too weak in most cases.
With that said, there’s some good reasons to choose 25% too. We’ll cover all of that and more soon.
How Does Dermalure TCA Peel Work?
Dermalure TCA Peel works a lot like other TCA peels. It exfoliates your skin powerfully and instantaneously upon contact, burning your tattoo into nonexistence in the process.
On the technical side of things, within the acetate group there are 3 chlorine atoms — these atoms work together to provide a potent peel.
Simple enough! So that’s how it works, but the real question is, does it work?
What Do The Reviews Have To Say?
The vast majority of Dermalure TCA Peel reviews on Amazon (www.Amazon.com) are 4 and 5 stars (out of 5). If I had to summarize the average review in a word, it would be POWERFUL. That came up a lot.
On average, people are saying things like:
“POWERFUL. Gives amazing results, and actually does remove marks… ”
“WOW. Insanely potent but great. This stuff will remove tattoos! Be careful this is some strong stuff!”
“Very awesome! This product does exactly what it claims to.”
My final verdict? At $20.63 per ounce, Dermalure’s TCA peel is very reasonably priced. That’s a solid vote their way. And it’s clearly strong. But there aren’t hundreds of people raving about the peel and posting pictures like Platinum TCA Peel.
Ultimately, if you’re able to pay for top quality, I’d go with Platinum, which seems to be a sure deal. But if you’re looking for a bargain, Dermalure’s peel is affordable and effective too.
Thanks to the cost and the amount of TCA in the bottle (50%), this is my second choice.
Where To Buy
You can pick up Dermalure TCA Peel on Amazon for the low price of $34.95, plus $4.98 for shipping.
Here’s a link to buy: https://amzn.to/2Y5vKde
#3 – RePare TCA Peel 25%
This TCA peel has a fairly low price, but also contains less TCA per fluid ounce. This can still be a good decision though, if you have very sensitive skin, or want to remove a face tattoo or a tattoo from another sensitive area.
How Does RePare TCA Peel Work?
RePare TCA Peel 25% exfoliates your skin, but not as powerfully as the high potency peels. And while 25% seems weak in comparison, it’s the highest you want to go for the face. Plus, it’s still plenty strong, as you’ll soon see. So again, if you have a face tattoo, this is your best bet.
Now, on to the ultimate question — does it work?
What Do The Reviews Have To Say?
Like Dermalure, RePare doesn’t have an army of supporters raving about it and posting before and afters. But there are reviews, and they’re good reviews, on the whole.
The funny thing is, 25% TCA is on the weak side for tattoo removal, but guess which word came up the most in these reviews? Strong. Even 25% packs a mean punch.
In general, people are saying things like:
“WOW. Great product, very strong. Works great!”
“Awesome. Strong but great experience, got results.”
“I love it — be careful though. I highly recommend this product.”
There are plenty of other reviews like this, which makes it clear that this is a good product.
In fact, the only negative reviews were due to allergic reactions and someone who reported that their skin was darker after using it. (This does actually happen sometimes, but it goes back to normal after a couple weeks.)
Where To Buy
You can pick up RePare TCA Peel on Amazon for the low price of $19.89, which includes free shipping.
Here’s a link to buy: https://amzn.to/2XXqQe9
Here’s my final thoughts on TCA peels.
- If you need to remove a tattoo, it clearly works.
- In most cases, you want 30% TCA peels and up, but 25% may be best for the face.
- It costs a fraction of what laser or surgical tattoo removal does ($20 to $60 vs $500+).
- It’s also relatively fast.
Bottom line — it’s not going to be a perfect solution for everybody, and it has some potential side effects. But the vast majority of people who use TCA peels say they’re happy with the results.
If you’re choosing between forfeiting the military branch of your choice or trading $20-$60 and some DIY tattoo removal to unlock the privilege of joining, I hope the information and research in this article helped you choose the best option.
And that’s all I have for you today.
If you’re wondering if your tattoos are okay for the branch you want to join, check out the below guides:
- 5-Tier 1 Operators / Special Mission Units Explained - April 20, 2021
- Navy ASTB-E Study Guide: 5 Tips to Ace the Test - April 19, 2021
- SIFT Test Prep Tips - April 18, 2021