What is a PCA Skin peel?
The skin-care brand PCA Skin offers a line of professional, in-office chemical peels. PCA (short for Physicians Care Alliance) was among the first to take a Jessner’s peel—a combination of lactic acid, salicylic acid, and an antiseptic exfoliant called resorcinol that dissolves dead skin cells and addresses acne and skin discoloration—and enhance it with other ingredients.
Its proprietary professional treatment solutions include ingredients like azelaic acid, kojic acid, citric acid, vitamin C, and hydroquinone, to address a wider variety of concerns and a range of skin types. Their exfoliating blends are intended to speed skin cell turnover, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, clear breakouts, calm rosacea, and improve hyperpigmentation, including melasma—overall improving skin texture and tone. Most PCA Skin peel solutions are self-neutralizing, so they can be left on skin without rinsing or adding a neutralizing solution.
The namesake PCA Peel powers its exfoliation ability with 14% lactic acid and 14% salicylic acid. Some PCA Skin peels contain trichloroacetic acid (TCA), a light- to medium-depth peeling agent that’s also highlighted in the popular TCA peel. The concentration varies, with the gentler Sensi Peel at just 6% TCA and the Ultra Peel Forte at 20% (recommended only for resilient skin types). Others, such as the 6% Pure Retinol Peel, forgo TCA entirely in favor of retinol.
There are a number of different PCA Skin peel solutions with various strengths, so it’s easy for your doctor or aesthetician to find the right match for your skin. “With a dark skin tone, you will want to err on the side of being conservative and starting with a light peel such as the PCA Sensi Peel,” says Salt Lake City facial plastic surgeon Dr. Randal Swenson. “This particular peel has been studied on all six [Fitzpatrick] skin types and is a great way to see how your skin responds, without risking further post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.”
What are the pros and cons of a PCA Skin peel?
There’s little to no downtime involved, and you can go about your day immediately after it’s applied.
While a series of peels is recommended, improvements (like your skin brightening and developing a healthy glow) are usually visible after one treatment.
The peel solution can be customized to address your unique concerns and skin type.
As with all chemical peels, there’s some risk of hyperpigmentation for people with olive or brown skin.
You may have some irritation or redness for a few days after your peel, and you’ll have some flaking within about five days.
What happens during a PCA Skin chemical peel?
The doctor or aesthetician will start by cleansing your skin. Then, using a brush or spatula, they’ll apply the chemical peel solution in a number of layers, as determined to best suit your skin. Your entire appointment should take less than 30 minutes.
After the peel is applied, you can go about the rest of your day and wash your face the next morning.
RealSelf Tip: It’s common to get a PCA Skin peel and an injectable, such as Botox or filler, on the same day. There usually isn’t any interference between the two, even if you use numbing cream. Just avoid a chemical peel after a treatment like IPL or laser resurfacing, which can increase the risk of pigment disorders.
What can you expect after your peel treatment?
Flaking typically begins within two to four days, as the dead cells loosen. The level of flaking will depend on your skin’s level of sensitivity and the strength of the peel. Resist the temptation to pick at flaking skin, which can prolong healing and lead to scarring.
Some redness and irritation is to be expected, but a strong burning or itching feeling could be a sign of a chemical burn. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or an ointment like Aquaphor can help calm your skin down.
Your provider may recommend PCA Skin’s own line of skin-care products for use post-treatment. In general, after chemical peels, sticking to a simple skin-care routine is best—think a gentle cleanser and a moisturizer formulated for sensitive skin.
To protect your newly revealed skin from sun damage, wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more and avoid direct sun exposure—both good habits to keep up even after your skin finishes peeling.
As for makeup, “I recommend to my patients to avoid using makeup for the rest of the day after their peel, but they can resume their makeup routine the following day,” says Dr. Adam Singleton, a facial plastic surgeon in Chevy Chase, Maryland. “For best results and to not clog the freshly treated pores on the skin, I recommend mineral-based makeup after peels.”
RealSelf Tip: You can smoke after your peel, but some doctors on RealSelf point out that it can delay healing following chemical peels. PCA Skin peels are typically gentle enough that it shouldn’t interfere, but keep in mind that smoking can make skin age more quickly.
How many PCA Skin peels will you need to see results?
Most people get a series of PCA Skin peels plus follow-up appointments to maintain results. Medium-depth peels can be done every four months, while more superficial peels can be done every four to six weeks.
Are PCA Skin chemical peels safe?
This treatment is considered safe, though like most chemical peels, it comes with some risk of pigmentation issues among people with medium to deep skin tones. Your doctor can outline the risks and customize your solution to mitigate them.
“The nice thing about PCA peels is that they are customizable, allowing the provider to mix and match different peels and serums for your specific skin type and concern,” says Dr. Swenson. “Providers of PCA Skin peels have to be certified in their protocols to perform them, which gives further assurance that you will get the best peel for your skin.”