by Jennifer M.
When I was asked to review Stacked Skincare’s TCA Multi-Acid Face Peel ($150/1 oz or $250/2 oz), I was really excited to do so. As a 52-year-old my skin has, in the last five years or so, suddenly lost a lot of ground in the fight against age. All the sun damage (and it was a lot) I subjected it to in my younger years has finally decided to make a rather assertive and dramatic appearance on my face, primarily in the form of serious hyperpigmentation and broken capillaries (something to which I have a strong genetic predisposition.) I’ve considered the possibility of taking some drastic measures to combat these issues, and though I haven’t ruled them out, the thought of radical treatments like deep peels, lasers or pulsing lights scares me, not to mention the fact that while my skin has begun aging furiously, it has also become increasingly sensitive. So, when the offer came to test out Stacked Skincare’s TCA Multi-Acid Face Peel, it seemed like the perfect solution for my skincare issues.
Stacked Skincare. Uh, yeah. If you run that name across many a guy, I know what they’d first think. But surely not, right? Of course not. A quick visit to their sight reveals that unsurprisingly, this skincare line is made up of components that are meant to be “stacked” together to achieve better, more dramatic results. But you can still tell your husband you’re ordering a bunch of Stacked stuff and he’ll probably think it’s a great idea.
Because the Stacked Skincare’s TCA Multi-Acid Face Peel was the product I was asked to test, it was the only one I added to my skincare routine. I did not alter anything else about my skincare routine. On a couple of the nights I used the peel I did follow with a bit of moisturizer that I’ve been using for a few years (Tata Harper Reparative Moisturizer) but on the other nights I just applied the peel and left it at that. As tempting as it was to use a special skin serum on top of the peel, I did not vary any other component of my skincare except for the addition of Skincare’s TCA Multi-Acid Face Peel. Thus, I rather feel that I was testing the product out of its natural environment. I was testing it unstacked.
A quick look on their website revealed that while Stacked Skincare’s TCA Multi-Acid Face Peel claims to be “safe for sensitive complexions” (even for those with psoriasis, eczema or rosacea), a claim which is wholly supported by the reviews on their website. A peel that is effective yet gentle, comprehensive in its ingredients and foolproof enough to use safely at home? Sign me up! This was a peel I wasn’t afraid to try!
And, I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. I found my skin was able to tolerate this peel just fine — no adverse reactions whatsoever. Though their website does not make clear how often this peel is to be used, I gathered from reviewers on their site that it is generally applied 1 or 2 times a week as part of an evening skin care program. I decided to use it twice a week and did so for four weeks, for a total of 8 peels. In all that time, I never experienced any excessive or lingering redness, flaking, burning, peeling or blistering (yep, my skin has literally blistered from other products). So, unless there is some particular allergy others might have to one or more of the ingredients in this peel, I feel pretty confident in agreeing with their claim that it is safe and gentle.
One very cool thing about Stacked Skincare’s TCA Multi-Acid Face Peel is the way it is applied. It comes with a small dish and a delicate fan brush. To apply it, you dispense a given amount of the peel from the bottle’s dropper into the dish. Then using the fan brush, you lightly brush it over your face. I loved this method of application — the fan brush made it easy to apply a light, thin layer of the peel, and the brush feels delicate and calming against your skin. All-in-all it’s just a cool, Zen kind of addition to a night time ritual.
The serum itself has a pleasant smell, like coffee and caramel. It has a light gel-like consistency and feels and looks like a gel on your skin. Upon first application, I did feel a very mild stinging sensation followed by a slight tightening sensation, but that only last a few seconds. Once applied, it is slightly tacky to the touch, and on nights when I did not follow the peel with any other product, it remained a bit tacky in some areas, while other areas dried to a slight sheen — just as you’d expect any gel to behave. Because the peel is self-neutralizing, it does not need to be washed off, and can be layered (stacked) with other products. All told, it’s easy to apply and a pleasure to use.
Theoretically, the dropper and the dish take the guesswork out of how much peel to use. For me, it was a bit more problematic. First of all, the website instructs you to use 1/4 - 1/2 of a dropper of solution for each peel. Because I’m always trying to maximize any product I use, especially those that are as costly as this one is, I tried to get away with 1/4 of a dropper. No way. It was maybe enough for my forehead and nose. So, I ended up using a generous 1/2 dropper, even then it was barely enough. Finally, I realized: different bottle sizes, different dropper sizes. I had been sent a sample — a bottle that was about 1/2 full of serum. I’d assumed it was a regular sized bottle with a regular sized dropper, but a quick comparison of the sample bottle to other 1oz bottles in my cupboard revealed that the bottle of serum I’d received was quite a bit smaller, thus the dropper I’d been using to measure product was also smaller. All of this is to explain that while I thought I had been following the application instructions correctly, I may well have been using the product too sparingly, which, in turn, may have affected my results. My guess is that the reason the instructions indicate to use 1/4 -1/2 of a dropper is because the peel is sold in either a 1oz or 2oz bottle, so that for a 1oz bottle, 1/2 dropper would work, but for the larger 2oz bottle, 1/4 dropper might be enough. This is something that should really be spelled out more clearly in their instructions, especially for type A direction followers like me.
The first night that I used Skincare’s TCA Multi-Acid Face Peel, I did follow it up with a light daytime moisturizer. When I awoke the next morning, my skin had a pleasant, rosy glow. I was pleased and hopeful about the product’s efficacy. However, further applications did not result in the rosy AM glow. After a couple of applications, I do think that the pores in the T-zone area of my face appear a bit smaller and tighter, but other than that, I have seen no real improvements in my skin — most disappointingly, no changes in the hyperpigmentation on my face. Overall, I don’t feel think this peel has made much of an improvement on my skin. However, I am very disinclined to discount this product after just a one month trial. Given the fact that I’m not sure I applied the correct amount of the peel each time, and that I used the product ‘unstacked,’ I feel that my results might be a bit off. In addition, because this is a gentle peel, it may be that it needs to be used for a significant amount of time in order to see measurable results.
Skincare’s TCA Multi-Acid Face Peel is made up of several different exfoliating acids. These include glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, phytic acid, and TCA (trichloroacetic acid) Together, these acids fight an array of aging problems; lightening and preventing hyperpigmentation, softening fine lines and wrinkles, fighting acne, boosting collagen and promoting cell turnover. It also includes retinol for minimizing fine lines and boosting collagen and ascorbic acid for fighting against free radical damage. I don’t have any qualms about any of the active components, and overall feel like it’s a comprehensive grouping that targets a lot of skin issues. What the Stacked Skincare website doesn’t tell you is the concentrations of any of the ingredients included. Because this peel is so gentle and non-irritating, I naturally assume that the formulation is fairly weak so that it can be safe to use at home on a regular basis.
Would I buy this? The answer: I very well might. It is an expensive product, and that is a major consideration. You might wonder why I’d be interested in shelling out a big chunk of money for a product that has not produced measurable results for me. I guess I do, too. But, I’m inclined to believe that this is a product that needs to be given a longer test run. Micro-rolling before application likely will boost its effects, and I’d like to try that. And, I’d be interested in trying this peel with a follow-up serum to amp up its effectiveness. I like the fact that it can be a once or twice a week boost to an already established routine. I like the fact that it is so user friendly and gentle. I like that it can be used in conjunction with other products — serums that I already have. And, when weighed against the prospect of some other more radical treatment, I’d prefer to give Skincare’s TCA Multi-Acid Face Peel a bit more time to show what it can do. Sometimes, the turtle does win the race.