Everything You Need to Know About Microdermabrasion


Microdermabrasion. It’s one of those words you’ve heard dozens of times, but odds are you don’t really know what it is, apart from being something that’s often seen at the end of the list of options at your favorite spa. This post will help clear up any questions you might have about the rejuvenating skincare procedure – what it is, if it’s right for you, at-home treatments and much more. Keep reading!

What is it?

Microdermabrasion is essentially exfoliation on steroids. It’s a treatment that’s usually done at a spa or a dermatologist’s office (though there are at-home treatments, which you can learn more about below). The esthetician uses a vacuum-like device that sprays tiny crystals (typically made of aluminum oxide, the second-hardest mineral after diamonds) that pick up all of the dead cells on the surface of your skin. The vacuum sucks up all of the dead skin cells into a disposable bag, and you will be left with a fresh, youthful, soft and smooth layer of new skin.

What are the benefits?

There are so many reasons to undergo a microdermabrasion procedure. The anti-aging treatment can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, decrease redness and signs of rosacea, smooth out rough skin and reduce the size of pores. It also helps reduce the look of hyper-pigmentation, dark and age spots and scarring.

Is it right for you?

If you have very deep scars, active and intense acne, any autoimmune disorders or unstable diabetes, it’s not a good idea to get microdermabrasion treatments. Pregnant women are also advised against getting the treatment. If you have very deep scarring, consider a more intense treatment like a chemical peel. Speak to your dermatologist in detail before undergoing any treatment.

Where can you get the treatment?

You can typically get microdermabrasion treatments at your dermatologist’s office or local spa. Call beforehand to confirm they perform the procedure, and it’s a good idea to check references – just like any treatment, you want to ensure the esthetician/dermatologist is able to give you the results you want.

Can you do it at home?

There are many at-home facial scrubs and products on the market that promise microdermabrasion results. These products are not as effective as an in-office, professional treatment, but they do exfoliate more effectively than your typical St. Ives Apricot Scrub. Microdermabrasion scrubs contain aluminum oxide crystals that can slough away dead skin cells. There are pros and cons to using at-home treatments: the results are not as visible or long-lasting, but they cost a fraction of the price of an in-office procedure. Below are some of the best at-home treatments:


PMD Personal Microderm: This at-home tool promises the same results as a professional treatment. It contains a similar vacuum device that actively exfoliates skin. The general consensus is that this product does work, but it takes some practice to get a hang of the technique – try it if you’re up for the challenge. ($159)

dr brandt

Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion Skin Exfoliant: Just like a typical exfoliating scrub, apply a bit of this product to damp skin, gently massage it in for two minutes (focusing on the areas where you need exfoliating – typically around your nose and cheeks), rinse it off and pat dry. Use it no more than once or twice a week. ($79)

Crystal Ball

Beauty Society Crystal Ball: This weekly microdermabrasion treatment is a cult classic. Full of micro-crystals, plus calming chamomile and exotic oils, skin is refreshed and visibly brighter. Expect more radiant and smooth skin in just a few weeks. ($34.50)


Kiehl’s Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion: Has there ever been a Kiehl’s product that wasn’t incredible? The consistently reliable brand has a microdermabrasion formula that promises to smooth skin, reduce discoloration and decrease the appearance of signs of aging. Recommended for tri-weekly use, you can also use this product on your neck and hands, in addition to your face. ($41)


Olay Regenerist Microdermabrasion & Peel System: Microdermabrasion at a drugstore price! This two-part system contains a microdermabrasion exfoliator (which you apply like a mask onto clean, dry skin) and an activator serum. Apply the serum on top of the exfoliating mask – this will activate the treatment. Gently massage for a minute, rise and pat dry. ($24.64)

Is it painful?

It’s not a painful treatment, but your skin will feel a unique, warm sensation as the crystals work their magic. The feeling is often compared to receiving a facial. After the treatment, since the top layer of your skin has been removed, you skin will be more sensitive than usual. Apply the sunscreen or lotion recommended by your doctor to protect it.

How much does it cost?

It depends on the spa or dermatologist you go to, but in general, each microdermabrasion treatment costs about $100-150. Most people need about six sessions to achieve their desired results, going every two weeks or so. This also depends on your skin type – your esthetician will let you know how often you should be getting treatments.

Is it safe?

Microdermabrasion is a non-surgical procedure with little risk. While it’s considered a safe skin treatment, some people may experience minor irritation afterward. In general, it’s a quick and easy procedure – a typical treatment takes about thirty minutes and it takes no time for skin to recover. That’s why its often referred to as a ‘lunch hour’ treatment.

Would you try microdermabrasion? Are you interested in a professional treatment or one of the at-home options? Let us know in the comments below!

Image via Dr. Danek

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