When most people say they're doing an at-home or DIY chemical peel, they're actually referring to an exfoliating face mask typically composed of natural ingredients that can be found in your fridge or pantry. DIY "chemical peels" such as these ones are perfectly okay to use at home because they don't actually use medical-grade ingredients.
However, Instagram and YouTube beauty gurus have been using actual concentrated TCA to do these at-home peels. TCA, or trichloroacetic acid, is used by estheticians and dermatologists in strengths typically ranging from 10% to 35%. Any concentration of over 30% TCA is only supposed to be used by a licensed dermatologist and can cause serious chemical burns if not administered correctly. However, it's unfortunately readily available online, so anyone can easily buy it. A self-identified "mua" on Instagram known as @keegan.makeup recently posted this viral video of her tutorial on how to make an at-home chemical peel with 30% TCA.
In the description, she states:
''Ive done about 12 peels total, including 3 of them done in a dermatologist's office. i think i might only need 1-2 more for my pigmentation to be completely gone! 👏🏻 🙌🏻 doing this at home is super affordable too. watch my video for full details!"
In the tutorial, she first rubs isopropyl alcohol straight from the bottle onto her cheeks, and then quickly follows up with the TCA.second-degree burn.
@keegan.makeup has since removed the video from both her YouTube and instagram, but unfortunately it's still being posted by multiple beauty pages.
Thankfully, the comments on theses videos clearly express their disapproval:
This Instagram MUA isn't the only one who's made the same mistake, unfortunately. Unlicensed beauty gurus have been posting videos of themselves doing at-home chemical peels on YouTube for years. Most of these beauty gurus have gotten lucky and faced no serious side effects, but MUA Chell Hendrix made this video chronicling her horrible experience day-by-day after using a 25% chemical peel that temporarily destroyed her skin. A YouTuber named MissMary's Life also made a similar video about her experience after using a 100% concentration of TCA on her face. They now encourage women who were in a similar position to go to a professional or use a much lower percentage.
While these beauty gurus were lucky enough for their skin to heal eventually, the real danger is that some of their thousands of viewers will try the same and experience irreversible damage. Even dermatologists sometimes won't perform chemical peels on people with sensitive skin, so the idea of someone with sensitive skin seeing a video and then applying it themselves is terrifying. Going to a dermatologist may seem expensive, but trying to mimic a professional chemical peel yourself can lead to life-long scarring that will cost more to treat in the long run. Pain doesn't always result in beauty!