Young woman receiving massage  - microdermabrasion
20's, 30's, 40's, Skin


Microdermabrasion has come a long way since its debut in dermatologists’ offices. What was once regarded as a high end treatment for celebrities and the wealthy is now extremely accessible – you can stop by your doctor’s office on your lunch break or do an at home treatment after work. Microdermabrasion continues to gain popularity as a non-invasive, quick way to improve the appearance of your skin. So how does such a simple procedure work so well? In layman’s terms, it sands away the dead skin cells that have accumulated and cause a dull complexion. When microdermabrasion is done at a professional’s office, a hand-held device streams tiny crystals across your skin. An attached vacuum simultaneously suctions those exfoliating crystals back into the machine, along with the dead or loosened skin. A newer version uses a diamond-tip wand to gently exfoliate the skin. The at home devices are a much more mild version and therefore do not produce the same results, which is to be expected. The deep exfoliating from microdermabrasion works to stimulate new collagen production, helping your skin rejuvenate faster and aide in the cleaning of the dirt and grime that’s managed to find a hiding spot in your pores. Since its effects tend to be modest (it is called the lunchtime peel after all), microdermabrasion is typically used for early signs of aging and mild skin concerns. For a more professional take on how microdermabrasion works, New Beauty gives a full breakdown.

Not one to ignore a skin care trend, I promptly booked an appointment with my esthetician when she offered a microdermabrasion special. The treatment was quick and painless, and felt just like you would imagine tiny crystals rubbed over your face would feel. The best part was actually the deep cleansing facial she did afterwards. I was a little pink following treatment but within the next few days my previously lackluster skin was bright and healthy looking. I walked away with only positive thoughts on my first treatment, and will likely be back within the next few months for round two.

My professional microdermabrasion experience was much more pleasant  than my at home  one. I was at a spa tradeshow last year and received a free at home kit, which was a huge deal since everything else handed out was a sample size that was instantly tucked away in a junk drawer somewhere. Microdermabrasion was all anyone was talking about so I was more than willing to give it a try. My biggest piece of advice with at home kits is to read the directions. Seriously, read every last direction in that user guide. There is a very specific process to using the device and if you don’t do it correctly you’ll look like you got in a cat fight. It’s embarrassing to admit that I know this from experience. I skimmed through the directions and didn’t think it looked too complicated so I went for it. Turns out you’re not supposed to go over the same area more than once – which in hindsight seems pretty darn obvious but I’ll blame it on my excitement to try my cool new device.  Almost instantly after the second swipe I had two bright red scratches down my cheek. They didn’t last more than a day but the fear that I had permanently scarred my face from my amateur microdermabrasion led for a stressful 24 hours; one in which I avoided sunlight and human contact. So, yeah, I guess you could say there was some user error. Clearly I’m not meant to try new beauty products in the heat of the moment. But with my mistakes aside, my skin turned out just fine. And that was about it. Nothing great, nothing bad, just nothing. I know a lot of people see results from at home devices but I would rather have a professional do the dirty work and I’ll maintain my skin in-between visits.

According to many skin care professionals, a good exfoliator is just as effective as at home microdermabrasion. You really can’t go wrong with Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, my personal favorite. Total Beauty shares their own list of reader favorites for at home exfoliation. Whatever your go-to may be, there’s no doubt exfoliation is a crucial part of skin care, and like all beauty regimens it will take some time and experimenting to figure out what works best for you.

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