Some skin-care treatments are better left to the pros. Certain types of peels. lasers, and deeper levels of light therapy should be done by a knowledgeable and board-certified expert. However, microdermabrasion at home is a treatment that with proper research, and careful instruction from your dermatologist, can deliver skin-smoothing benefits right from your bathroom.
What is Microdermabrasion?
According to New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist Diane Madfes, microdermabrasion works by removing the top layer of skin using a combination of suction and mild abrasion. Board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, who is also based in New York City, tells Elle.com that another microdermabrasion technique involves spraying “fine particles of aluminum oxide or sodium bicarbonate with a vacuum [or] suction.” Meanwhile, Michele Green, another New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist, says that applicators–aka handpieces–utilize microscopic diamond chips to gently exfoliate. You can even buy skincare products infused with tiny crystals which mimic the effects of microdermabrasion devices—but more on this later.
What Are the Benefits of Microdermabrasion?
“Microdermabrasion can be used to target and improve the appearance of a wide array of skin concerns including fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores, hyperpigmentation, dullness, and sun damage,” Dr. Green notes. She also credits microdermabrasion with increasing the rate of skin cell turnover, subsequently boosting collagen production. The result? Radiant skin and a smooth, healthy-looking complexion.
Should I Do Microdermabrasion at Home?
All of the dermatologists we spoke to agreed that the procedure is more effective when done by a professional. According to Dr. Green, this is because in-office machines are designed to be more powerful than at-home devices. Plus, she continues: “Professionals can guide the patient to the best result possible and know who is a good candidate and who is not.” With this in mind, you still can easily perform microdermabrasion at home for the sake of achieving milder results.
Can Any Skin Type Do Microdermabrasion?
There are a few things to keep in mind when determining if the treatment is right for you, “While mild at-home microdermabrasion is technically safe on all skin types, the darker the skin type, the higher the risk of potential side effects like discoloration,” explains New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist and OptiSkin founder Orit Markowitz. Meanwhile, Marina Peredo, another New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist, advises people with compromised skin—such as active acne, rosacea, eczema, or atopic dermatitis—to avoid microdermabrasion. This is because the treatment can exacerbate flare-ups and flaky skin.
How Do I Do Microdermabrasion At Home?
Limit sun exposure before and after treatment. “You should avoid the sun and use sunscreen a week before treatment and a week thereafter,” says Dr. Corey L. Hartman, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama. He continues, telling Elle.com: “Similar to an exfoliant, sun exposure plus microdermabrasion can do more harm than good.” Per the dermatologist, the skin will be more sensitive post-treatment, making it more susceptible to sunburn and damage.
Cleanse ahead of time. According to Dr. Hartman, your skin needs to be clean and free of makeup, dirt, oil, and debris for optimal microdermabrasion results. Dr. Madfes suggests using micellar water to cleanse, calling it a “wonderful” option for prepping the skin before microdermabrasion treatment.
Start low and slow. “When using an at-home microdermabrasion device, you should always start on the lowest setting to see how your skin reacts,” says Dr. Peredo. “If you start out too aggressively, it can result in acne, bruising, or irritated skin,” she explains. Dr. Madfes warns that this can also lead to enlarged pores.
Do your research before buying a device. While there are dozens of at-home microdermabrasion tools, Dr. Green recommends The MicrodermMD by Trophy Skin. According to the dermatologist, the product offers a “gentle yet thorough exfoliation” thanks to its diamond-tipped applicator. Plus, the helpful LCD screen displays a walkthrough of the different treatment modes. It also comes with three interchangeable tips for sloughing, extracting gunk from pores, and infusing skin-care products into the skin.
If you prefer to skip the tool route, Dr. Madfes suggests the Dr. Brandt Skincare Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exfoliator, which features skin-smoothing aluminum oxide crystals plus exfoliating lactic acid and moisturizing jojoba oil.
Moisturize your skin. Once you’ve finished your microdermabrasion treatment, you’ll want to soothe skin with a rich, nourishing moisturizer. Dr. Green says that applying a face cream can help promote skin healing post-treatment. She recommends Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion, which is formulated with moisturizing hyaluronic acid. Alternatively, Dr. Hartman suggests SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel, which he says “immediately bring[s] back moisture to the skin that may have been lost during treatment.”
Dr. Hartman also suggests using a “calming serum” following your at-home treatment. He recommends Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum since it’s formulated with niacinamide. “The serum will help add moisture back to the skin and help extend some of the microdermabrasion benefits of smaller- [looking] pores and a more even complexion,” Dr. Hartman explains.
Expect to see changes. Don’t be alarmed if your skin looks or feels different immediately and days after your treatment. According to Dr. King, your skin may feel tight and dry post-treatment. You may also notice some redness, as well. However, this should all resolve “within 24 hours,” per the dermatologist. Of course, if you’re seeing prolonged side effects, consult your dermatologist to discuss.
What Shouldn’t I Do When Performing Microdermabrasion At Home?
Don’t over-exfoliate. Too much sloughing can damage your skin. “Don’t over-exfoliate a particular area of the skin or use your microdermabrasion device too frequently, as this can potentially cause skin irritation, dryness, redness, and swelling,” says Dr. Green. If you have oily skin, Dr. Green suggests performing microdermabrasion once every two weeks. Folks with normal skin can do the treatment once a month.
Avoid going hard. When using an at-home microdermabrasion kit, be mindful when applying pressure. “Doing so risks scratching the skin, causing redness and irritation,” says Dr. Hartman.
Skip certain products. Prep your skin for microdermabrasion by changing up your skincare routine in the days leading up to treatment. For example, Dr. Hartman advises steering clear of retinoids, peels, or exfoliating treatment three days before microdermabrasion at home. Additionally, Dr. Markowitz recommends refraining from vitamin C products at least one week before the procedure to avoid over-irritation.
Never go without SPF. Sunscreen is an essential part of every skincare routine, and it’s especially important after at-home microdermabrasion. “La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen SPF 60 is a great option for comfortable and full broad-spectrum coverage,” says Dr. Green. She credits its antioxidant-packed formula with nourishing, soothing, and protecting the skin post-treatment.
Be consistent. If you do give microdermabrasion a shot, keep in mind that the results are temporary. “Patients who have microdermabrasion need to have monthly maintenance sessions to upkeep their cosmetic results,” Dr. Green explains.
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