- Microdermabrasion is a form of physical exfoliation that can be performed at home.
- Crystal-based or diamond-tipped microdermabrasion kits are available, with the latter favored for their consistency and user-friendliness.
- These machines offer varying bonuses such as maximum suction power, additional tips and greater portability.
- At-home microdermabrasion is more cost-effective than professional treatments, but requires consistent use for similar results.
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 triggers the body’s reparative wound healing process, which stimulates the production of collagen, a protein responsible for giving skin its elasticity.
In the days following a professional microdermabrasion skin treatment, the stratum corneum slowly begins to heal, resulting in improved surface and contour irregularities.
Microdermabrasion machines are available to consumers to perform microdermabrasion at home. Such devices allow people to take advantage of microdermabrasion’s benefits for a lower overall cost, from within the comfort of their own homes.
Types of Microdermabrasion Machines
DIY microdermabrasion kits are available in two variations. Each type uses a similar mechanism of action as a professional device, and ensures a similar experience compared to a spa or clinical setting.
Crystal-based microdermabrasion systems are the oldest type of DIY microdermabrasion and use a crystal tip or moisturizing cream made of fine crystals to peel and slough away the skin’s surface. The crystals are usually made of aluminum oxide or, less frequently, sodium chloride, magnesium oxide or sodium bicarbonate.
Cream-based kits use an exfoliating cream of fine crystals that is massaged into the skin—similar to an exfoliating scrub—that peels away the skin’s surface.
Diamond microdermabrasion machines are a relatively new option for performing microdermabrasion but function in a similar way to that of crystal-tipped machines. It functions by polishing skin with a diamond-encrusted tip to exfoliate and slough away surface debris and dead skin cells.
Users of diamond-tipped microdermabrasion kits report better consistency of results compared to crystal-based devices, as they may be easier to control and adjust for preferred abrasion. Diamond kits also don’t require cream, which means less less money spent buying refills.
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 at-home microdermabrasion provides mild, clinically significant, improvements to the skin, with one differentiating factor: where improvements are immediately noticeable following a professional microdermabrasion treatment, results of a DIY microdermabrasion may require one week or two, over multiple sessions, to become visible.
Safety and side effects
Individuals of all skin tones and types can take advantage of at-home microdermabrasion. Side effects are mild, if they present at all, and typically clear up within hours of treatment.
However, misuse or overuse of a microdermabrasion device can contribute to the increased likelihood or severity of side effects. Common issues include:
- Overexfoliation caused by overusing the device
- Not following the purchased device’s specific instructions
- Failing to pull the skin taut during treatment
- Ignoring proper aftercare
To avoid these issues, read the user manual carefully and adhere to proper aftercare practices.
How to Choose the Best Microdermabrasion Machine
Although consumer-grade microdermabrasion products function similarly, features may differ from device to device. Consider the following when choosing a microdermabrasion kit:
- Preferred suction power
- Desired comfort level
- Number of tips or heads included
- Ease of use
The vacuum attachment on a microdermabrasion device suctions up dead skin cells, oil, debris and waste that loosens during treatment. A device with weak suction power 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. This range 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 a wide variety of tips or heads to allow you to use a certain tip designed for a specific area of the body. A smaller tip, for example, can result in higher accuracy and safety when treating more delicate areas, such as the skin around the eyes or lips.
Ease of use
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, such as a tabletop, during use.
Some machines may also lack a manual or may require significant effort to set up and prepare before use. To inform yourself, you can read online reviews and evaluate a package’s contents before making a decision.
Certain models of microdermabrasion machines include additional features and functionality for convenience, user-friendliness or safety. Some kits have reusable tips which require cleaning before each use, while others use disposable tips that will eventually require refills.
LED screens and displays are also a common feature on many DIY microdermabrasion machines. LED displays guide you during treatment, specifying exact treatment areas and times to safeguard you from overexfoliation or a botched treatment.
Some kits include materials such as cleaning tools, extra cotton filters and instructional DVDs. While some of these features add to the cost of the kit, they may also make your at-home microdermabrasion a better experience.
Microdermabrasion Machines for Acne
When debris, dead skin cells and sebum, or oil enter the pores, they can become clogged and infected by bacteria, resulting in an acne breakout. Microdermabrasion exfoliates debris from the skin’s surface and decreases sebum production, reducing the amount of sebum present on your skin. As a result, there is less likelihood of pores becoming clogged.
At the same time, microdermabrasion shrinks enlarged pores, limiting the likelihood of clogs due to an accumulation of dirt and debris. Exfoliating enhances transdermal drug delivery, helping other ingredients, such as those found in anti-aging and anti-acne topicals and lotions, to penetrate deeper.
Atrophic acne scars, or scars that heal below the surface of the skin, can also be treated via microdermabrasion. After treatment, the renewed skin and increased collagen production results in skin that is smoother and more uniform in appearance and texture.
However, although 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 tabletop machine that operates with sufficient power—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, as is common during pregnancy or after excessive weight gain.
Microdermabrasion is one treatment that can be effective in reducing the appearance of mild stretch marks due to its demonstrated efficacy in increasing collagen production and thickening the epidermis.
One study 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.
Still, consistent use of microdermabrasion at home may result in 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 contents.
Smaller hand-held devices are typically priced at about $50. Stronger and near professional machines cost upward of $300. Machines that require refillable tips and filters will eventually add to these costs, with replacements costing about $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 the desired efficacy.
In comparison, microdermabrasion machines are a cost-effective solution compared to professional treatments, as they can achieve similar results as professional treatments, with the added bonus of a single one-time cost.
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.
To use an at-home microdermabrasion machine:
- Begin by cleansing your skin; pat dry
- Set up your microdermabrasion machine
- Pull your skin taut in the treatment area to prevent excessive suction
- Pass the handpiece over the treatment area in upward circular motions, following your device’s specific instructions and not performing more than two passes
- Repeat the above process for each treatment area
- Finish by applying a toner, then a moisturizer, to the treatment area
- Continue to use a moisturizer during the healing process
While your skin heals, avoid harsh cosmetics and skin care products with fragrances. Use only noncomedogenic products to avoid clogging pores, and stay out of direct sunlight for 24–48 hours after treatment. In addition, use generous amounts of sunscreen prior to sun exposure.
Lastly, allow at least six days to one week to pass between treatments.
Microdermabrasion machines present an opportunity to rejuvenate skin and 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 to avoid the costly fees of professional microdermabrasion treatment or who would rather enjoy the benefits of microdermabrasion from the comforts of their own home.
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