To Micorderm or Not.. Is This The Best Way to Exfoliate?

By  Sallie Weimer

Microdermabrasion mechanically exfoliates the top layer of the stratum corneum–the dead skin cells to reveal softer, smoother more healthy, radiant skin beneath.  By removing this layer, skin cell turnover is quicker, cells become “unqlued, unclogged and are less likely to become plugged with oil, dirt and sebum.”

Sounds great right?  When microdermabrasion procedures first hit the aesthetic scene in the late 90’s, they were, well–the rage.  And, even though many other procedures have come along that claim superior exfoliation abilities, microdermabrasion machines and techniques have hung in there and claimed their stake in the beauty hall of fame as a service that will never diminish in appeal.  Prices have drastically come down per treatment as the novelty wore off over the years.   As equipment and technology of microdermasion machines has improved and become more techno-savvy, I still doubt that this golden child of exfoliation can claim any real research evidence or proof that it can provide any anti-aging benefits or provide any long-term preventative gains above and beyond the temporary benefit of quick skin-sloughing for a rosy glow.
*Can be done quickly, ususally a half-hour treatment
*Provides an immediate boost to the skin, resulting in circulation stimulation/a rosy glow
*Temporarily removes the top layer of dead skin cells which impair proper skin cell functioning
*Can help reducd clogged pores/improve mild acne conditions
*Makes the skin more receptive to topical products
*More advanced microderm systems (crystal-less) are somtimes more suitable for sensitive skintypes

*Crystals used to “slough” the skin (similiar in feel to a cat licking your face) are being found to be an irritant to many    clients
*Crystal-less machines which use diamond tips or tips which “infuse” solutions into the skin only temporarily plump the  skin require more sanitation and maintenance by the operator
*Microdermabrasion treatments can be overdone, and therefore “thin” the top of the skin, making it look shiny, waxy and makin the skin much more vulnerable to sundamage to the over-thinning of the stratum corneum.
*MICRODERMABRASION, which is a “mechanical” form of exfoliation, is not anti-aging!  Unlike chemical peels, which can be graduated up in strength to affect collagen and elastin fibers, microdermabrasion treatments ONLY work superficially and never work past the epidermis.
*Microdermabrasion treatments should only be looked at as an ancillary part of a  whole treatment protocol—NOT as an answer for reducing fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and acne resolution.
*Microdermabrasion machines require the use of a handpiece, and this is subjective to operator variance and therefore technique.

While microdermabrasion machines and services have their place, think twice before you pay more than $60 for a routine microderm treatment.  It is important to realize their limitations and note their points of differentiation between chemical peels when it comes to exfoliation.  If it is anti-aging you are looking for, look no further than chemical peels and seek out a licensed esthetician well-versed in acids that can work to help you achieve the results you want.


Sallie Weimer, 44, Detroit Michigan
Occupation:  Pharmaceutical Rep for Skincare company serving the dermatology/plastic surgery market
Industry Experience:  Over 2 decades in the skincare/cosmetic retail world.  Worked for Clinique and Estee Lauder thru college on the “retail end” and then for 7 years selling Glycolic acid skincare products/peels as a pharmaceutical rep.  Managed a large medi-spa for 2 years as Spa Director for a well-known cosmetic surgeon.  Currently working as an independent contractor for Young Pharmaceuticals and helping other practices to grow their cosmetics business as a freelance Aesthetics Consultant.

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