When you first start looking into microdermabrasion, it can be a little overwhelming trying to understand what treatment options exist and figure out what's best for you. You have everything from your over-the-counter scrubs, to whole home kits, home made solutions, to spa treatments, and machines that can be used at home.
Once you sort through the variety of different types of microderm, then you're confronted with a variety of options within their respective categories. It can be confusing (and at times costly) to try each one.
We've put together a list of the different microdermabrasion treatments available and provide our assessment of when/where these should be considered. Certainly it's not a cut and dry decision, but depending on your needs, certain products and procedures can make more sense than others.
Spas and Professional Providers
Spas, dermatologists, and plastic surgeons have been performing microdermabrasion (and dermabrasion) for years. In fact, until the mid-90's there weren't many options outside of these venues.
Microderm at most providers involves the use of a crystal dermabrasion machines. These machines spray aluminum oxide crystals onto the skin stripping off the very top layer of skin leaving healthy new skin below exposed.
The depth that one of these professionals goes is largely dependent on what types of issues you may need addressed. They are trained to carefully balance light damage to the skin with going too deep and causing genuine scarring to deeper levels of the epidermis.
Most visits cost anywhere from $100-$150; depending on the professional it can be more. Most will want to see you for 4-6 sessions once every 7-10 days for initial treatment, then ongoing maintenance once a month.
So how do you find a professional? Well you can often find deals on sites like Groupon, Living Social, etc. You can also head over to the American Academy for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery to find a provider.
- Professional application
- You get the "spa" treatment
- Any mess is left at the office
- It can cost anywhere from $400-$900+ just on initial treatment, then ongoing over $1000/yr. for maintenance
- Focus is on one specific area
Scrubs and Creams
Scrubs and creams are great way to get started with microdermabrasion and provide a solid way to exfoliate and rejuvenate the skin.
Most scrubs are made with aluminum oxide crystals, silica, or similar materials that provide an abrasive quality. These work to polish away dead skin cells. Application is as easy taking a small amount of the product and massaging it on the skin. Once complete (3-4 minutes), you rinse the application area and apply a moisturizer or other hydrating cream. It's also a good idea before starting application to cleanse the application area.
- Scrubs are a great way to exfoliate the skin
- They are the most inexpensive of the options, averaging $15-$30 for a small container of compound
- Scrubs tend to better for addressing minor blemishes like lines, wrinkles, and general signs of aging
- Scrubs are not as aggressive as other forms of microdermabrasion and may not be suitable for deeper issues
- They can be messy as they generally do not get absorbed into the skin
- Over time the cost of product can add up
Home Microdermabrasion Machines
Since the mid-90's there has been a growing number of options for at home microdermabrasion machines. These machines bridge the gap between the salon/dermatologist office and the lighter remedies such as scrubs, cloths, or peels. Microdermabrasion machines are a great option for addressing both deeper issues like skin discoloration or acne scarring, and lighter issues like the aforementioned lines, wrinkles, and signs of aging.
There are really two primary types of machines on the market:
As we look at both types, I will say that unless you are an aesthetician or have had experience with crystal, you're much better off investing in a good quality diamond microdermabrasion machine.
These machines use aluminum oxide crystals that are sprayed on your skin, buffing away the top layer of skin. As the top layer of skin is removed, it not only removes dead cells but also activates healthy cell regeneration.
- Same process used by clinicians alike
- Can be an effective treatment for deeper issues
- Can't be used around the eyes or mouth
- Machines are difficult to find and costly
- Ongoing consumables required
Diamond tip microdermabrasion is the newer of the two home technologies, and departs from the crystal methodology by placing the abrasive material (industrial diamonds) on tips that are attached directly to the applicator wand. With these devices we abrade the skin at the same time as we suck away the dead skin cells.
- Effective at treating deeper skin conditions
- Reusable and variable tips
- Better collagen stimulation through the combined application and vacuuming
- Less messy than crystal
- Fewer (if any) consumables
- With a good machine, spa quality results
- Significantly less than ongoing spa treatments
- Higher initial investment
There really are a number of great options out there for microdermabrasion and it really comes down to what you're trying to accomplish in your treatments:
- If you're simply looking for healthier more vibrant skin, a good quality scrub is a great choice.
- If you're looking to address deeper issues like minor acne scarring, skin discoloration, or lines and wrinkles, then a quality at home microdermabrasion machine would be a great choice.
- Finally, if you want the spa treatment, have the funds, and time, going to see an professional can be a great choice.