- Microdermabrasion is a form of physical exfoliation that can be performed at home through the use of microdermabrasion kits.
- Microdermabrasion kits are available in two types—crystal-based or diamond-tipped—though diamond-tipped kits are favored for their consistency and user-friendliness.
- Available microdermabrasion machines offer different features, such as maximum suction power, number of included tips, portability and other bonuses.
- Microdermabrasion at home is more cost-effective than professional treatments; efficacy is similar, but requires the consistent use of a microdermabrasion kit.
Microdermabrasion is a skin rejuvenation technique that physically exfoliates the skin by peeling away the stratum corneum, or the top layer of skin. This act of exfoliation triggers the body’s wound-healing process, which stimulates the production of collagen, a protein responsible for giving your skin its elasticity.
In the days following a microdermabrasion skin treatment, the stratum corneum begins to heal. The regrown stratum corneum is resurfaced and free of blemishes, such as fine lines, acne lesions, scars and stretch marks.
Microdermabrasion machines are available to consumers to perform microdermabrasion at home. Consumers can take advantage of the benefits of microdermabrasion for a more cost-effective price than is demanded by a session in a professional setting.
Types of Microdermabrasion Machines
DIY microdermabrasion kits are available in two variants. Both variants function similarly to professional machines by physically exfoliating the topmost skin layer to trigger the body’s reparative wound-healing process. This results in increased collagen production and skin resurfacing.
Crystal-based microdermabrasion systems are the oldest style of DIY microdermabrasion and use a crystal tip or moisturizing cream made of fine crystals to exfoliate your skin. The crystals are commonly made of aluminum oxide or, less frequently, sodium chloride, magnesium oxide or sodium bicarbonate.
Crystal microdermabrasion machines work by rubbing and sloughing away your skin’s surface. Cream-based kits massage an exfoliating cream of fine crystals into your skin—similar to an exfoliating scrub—that peels away the surface of your skin.
Diamond microdermabrasion machines are a relatively new variant. However, diamond-tipped DIY kits function in a way similar to that of crystal-tipped variants. By rubbing the diamond-encrusted tip across your skin, the surface is exfoliated and sloughed away to provide you with the benefits of microdermabrasion.
Users of diamond-tipped microdermabrasion kits report better ease-of-use and consistency of results compared to crystal-based devices. In addition, the lack of cream results in less mess and doesn’t require refills.
Both types of microdermabrasion systems serve a multi-function purpose. As they exfoliate the skin, a vacuum device suctions up dead cells and skin debris from the surface. This waste travels through an air hose and into a filter to ensure no debris is left behind to irritate your skin or clog your pores as your skin heals.
Efficacy of At-Home Microdermabrasion Kits
Despite the popularity of microdermabrasion, little research has been conducted into its efficacy for rejuvenating the skin. As such, research into the efficacy of at-home microdermabrasion is similarly limited, if not more so.
Still, there is some evidence that microdermabrasion at home provides mild, though clinically significant, improvements to the skin, with one differentiating factor: where improvements are immediately noticeable following a professional microdermabrasion treatment, results of DIY microdermabrasion may require a week or two, over multiple sessions, to become visible.
Safety and side effects
Individuals of all skin colors and types can take advantage of microdermabrasion at home. Side effects are mild, if they present at all, and typically clear up within hours of treatment.
However, misuse or overuse of a microdermabrasion kit can contribute to increased likelihood or severity of side effects. Common issues include:
- Over-exfoliation, or using your at-home microdermabrasion device too frequently
- Not following your specific device’s directions
- Failing to pull the skin taut during treatment
- Ignoring proper aftercare
To avoid these issues, read the manual for the specific kit you intend on using and adhere to proper aftercare practices.
How to Choose the Best Microdermabrasion Machine
Each microdermabrasion kit is different from the next and no two products are necessarily alike. The best device for you depends on your:
- Preferred vacuuming power
- Number of tips or heads included in the kit
- Preference for its ease-of-use
- Comfort level
The vacuum attachment on a microdermabrasion device suctions up the dead skin cells, oil, debris and waste that comes loose during treatment. A device with weak suction is ineffective in removing this material, which can remain on your skin’s surface and eventually clog your pores, causing irritation or acne and manifesting as blackheads.
The best microdermabrasion machines have suction attachments that operate between 16 inHG and 28 inHg of vacuum suction. This range of pressure is considered safe and effective for at-home use, with the upper ranges near-equivalent to the suction power of professional devices.
Number of tips/heads
Microdermabrasion kits frequently provide multiple different types of tips or heads. A wide variety of different tips allows you to use a certain tip designed for a specific area of your body. For example, a smaller tip provides higher accuracy and safety when treating more delicate areas, such as the skin around your eyes or lips.
At-home microdermabrasion machines are sold in a plethora of different types, styles and sizes. Some devices are small, battery-powered and easily stored or transported. Others are more similar to professional machines, requiring an outlet for power and a stable surface, like a tabletop, during use.
Some machines may also lack a manual or require significant effort to set up and prep before use. Before buying a microdermabrasion kit, read online reviews and evaluate the package’s contents to ensure it’s easy to set up and use when, where and how you want to.
Certain models of microdermabrasion machines include additional features and functionality for convenience, user-friendliness or safety. Some kits will include reusable tips which require cleaning before each use, while others will use disposable tips that eventually require refills when you’ve run out.
LED screens and displays are also a common feature on many DIY microdermabrasion machines. LED displays guide you along during treatment, specifying exact treatment areas and times to safeguard you from over-exfoliation or a botched treatment.
Some kits will also include cleaning tools, extra cotton filters, instructional DVDs and other materials. Though some of these features and included extras add to the cost of a kit, they may also make your microdermabrasion at-home experience easier and more convenient.
Microdermabrasion Machines for Acne
When debris, dead skin cells and oil, called sebum, enter your pores, your pores can become clogged and infected by bacteria, resulting in an acne breakout. Microdermabrasion exfoliates debris from your skin’s surface and decreases sebum production, reducing the amount of sebum present on your skin. As a result, there is less likelihood of your pores becoming clogged.
At the same time, microdermabrasion shrinks enlarged pores, limiting the ability for dirt and debris to clog them. Exfoliating the skin also enhances transdermal drug delivery, helping other ingredients, such as those found in anti-aging and anti-acne topicals and lotions, penetrate deeper.
Atrophic acne scars, or scars that heal below the surface of the skin, can also be treated via microdermabrasion. After the skin is exfoliated, the renewed skin and increased collagen production results in skin that is smooth and with a uniform appearance and texture. However, though microdermabrasion minimizes the appearance of atrophic scars, it cannot be used to treat the visibility of hypertrophic, or raised, acne scars.
The best microdermabrasion machines for acne and acne scars are those on the more powerful side of the spectrum. For the best results, a machine that most closely resembles those used in dermatologists’ offices is recommended.
Microdermabrasion Machines to Treat Stretch Marks
Stretch marks, or striae distensae, are scars formed when the collagen and elastin fibers in the skin are stretched too far apart. Microdermabrasion is commonly marketed as a solution for the treatment of mild stretch marks because of its demonstrated efficacy in increasing collagen production and thickening of the epidermis.
Studies have demonstrated mild improvements in the appearance of stretch marks over a five-month course of treatments. However, similar effects may not be attainable with an at-home device as it is less powerful than professional variants.
Still, consistent use of microdermabrasion at home may result in temporary improvements to the visibility of mild stretch marks. For such purposes, repeated treatment is more important than a specific model or type of microdermabrasion machine.
How Much Do At-Home Microdermabrasion Kits Cost?
The cost of microdermabrasion kits depends on the kit’s:
- Power and
- Included features.
Smaller hand-held devices are typically priced around $50. Stronger and near-professional machines cost upwards of $300. Machines that require refillable tips and filters will eventually add to these costs, with replacements costing around $15 and $7, respectively.
Microdermabrasion procedures are not covered by insurance and cost between $75–$200 per session. In addition, multiple sessions are usually required to achieve your desired efficacy. As a result, microdermabrasion machines are a cost-effective solution compared to professional treatments.
Tips When Using Microdermabrasion Kits
Before you try microdermabrasion at home, familiarize yourself with your chosen device and its instruction manual. If a physical manual has not been included, consult the manufacturer’s website for instructional information or videos as the specific process may vary from device to device.
After you’ve become acquainted with your microdermabrasion machine and are ready for your first treatment session, the first step is to cleanse your skin. Use a cleanser specific to your skin type to wash away any makeup, chemicals, oil and other impurities from your skin’s surface.
Once your skin has been cleaned, pat it dry using a towel or cloth and set up your microdermabrasion kit. Begin treatment by pulling the skin in the treatment area taut to prevent excessive suction, which could result in bruising and broken capillaries.
Then, begin passing the handpiece over the treatment area in upward circular motions. Follow the instructions of your specific device, but be sure not to perform more than two passes on the same area of skin. Repeat this process for each treatment area.
When you’re finished, apply a gentle toner to the area immediately after treatment to restore and balance your skin’s pH level. Following the toner, apply a moisturizer to rehydrate your skin; continue to use a moisturizer as part of your skin care routine for at least as long as your skin heals.
Avoid harsh cosmetics and skin care products with fragrances as your skin heals. Use only non-comedogenic products to avoid clogging your pores, and stay out of direct sunlight for 24–48 hours after treatment. In addition, use generous amounts of sunscreen prior to sun exposure as your skin continues to heal.
Finally, allow at least six days to a full week to pass between treatments.
Microdermabrasion machines present an opportunity to rejuvenate your skin and improve its conditions from the comfort of your own home. Kits are available with both crystal and diamond tips or a moisturizing exfoliant cream, and function in much the same way as professional machines.
At-home microdermabrasion devices offer similar efficacy as professional machines, but require frequent and consistent treatment. Side effects are also similar, but may be made worse by failing to adhere to proper treatment techniques and aftercare.
The best microdermabrasion machine for you is dependent on your preferences. Before buying a kit, consider its maximum vacuuming power, the number of tips or heads included, its ease of use and other included features, such as refills and LED screens.
Microdermabrasion machines are ideal for those who prefer avoiding the costly fees of professional microdermabrasion treatment or who would rather enjoy the benefits of microdermabrasion from the comforts of their own home.