These days we are bombarded with images of perfect skin, and whether you yourself have a top-notch complexion or not, you could easily be forgiven for feeling less than perfect, thanks to air-brushed celebrities and society’s so-called image of perfection.
Before we go on, I’m certainly not suggesting you shouldn’t embrace your own appearance and your own perceived imperfections, you are you after all, but if you are unhappy with a certain part of your appearance, especially skin-wise, then the good news is that there are options available to you.
Have you heard of microdermabrasion? I’m sure you have in some guise, probably from a leaflet or advertisement in a salon or clinic, but what you might not be aware of is that you can perform microdermabrasion at home, with your own fair hands – no need for a surgeon’s scalpel or anything remotely scary sounding!
I guess first of all we should look at exactly what microdermabrasion is.
What is microdermabrasion?
Personally I think the best way to look at microdermabrasion is as a more rigorous version of exfoliation, because basically that’s what it does. It is a cosmetic procedure, which as we mentioned, can be done at home or in a salon, and uses crystals to gently remove dead skin cells from the outermost layer of the skin. You might have heard of it described as an ‘instant facelift’ in beauty magazines.
This is the most simplistic way to describe microdermabrasion, but it is actually a little more complicated when you peek below the surface, like most things in life.
How does microdermabrasion work?
When you look at your skin, you might just think it is just one layer, but in actual fact there are several layers below the surface that act as a barrier to harsh environmental factors. Your skin is made up of two major layers, called the epidermis and the dermis, but microdermabrasion works mainly with the epidermis, the layer which is closest to the top, the layer you can actually see.
The crystals we mentioned before are what make up the major tool in microdermabrasion, and they are applied either with a machine, or with your hands. The crystals are called aluminium oxide crystals, and these are tiny rougher elements which work to gently buff the skin. This causes a break up of the top layer of the skin, often referred to as the stratum corneum, and your body goes into autopilot, thinking there is an injury, so it sends troops, i.e. the development of newer and healthier cells, to the area it thinks is damaged. What results is a fresh, glowing, new layer of skin, which of course means a fresh, glowing complexion for you! You’re basically fooling your body into kick-starting the healing process. Clever stuff!
Why should I get microdermabrasion?
You could of course just want a fresher complexion, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you could also be looking into this cosmetic method because you have a skin condition that could be improved with microdermabrasion. If you have fine lines and wrinkles, stubborn blemishes, clogged pores, troublesome blackheads, or hyperpigmentation, then microdermabrasion could be a method that works for you, however one of its major uses is to help treat residual acne scars. I have also heard first hand from a person who had positive experience treating stretch marks.
If you are an acne sufferer, do be aware that you should never undergo microdermabrasion in any guise if you have an active condition, but if you want to rid yourself of old acne scars then this could certainly be a treatment option. The general idea is that by having several treatments, you affect the way your body regenerates new skin cells, speeding up the healing process, and eradicating those scars that have been such a bane in your life. Microdermabrasion has been shown to be very effective in this way.
On a more superficial level, microdermabrasion doesn’t come with a long list of side effects, or the need for downtime, and all you may find is that immediately after a treatment you skin may be a little red or swollen, which should go down over the next 24 hours.
Additionally, microdermabrasion is a much cheaper alternative to cosmetic surgery, and let’s face it, we want to try and avoid the surgeon’s knife if at all possible! Chemical peels are also more expensive, as well as Botox, and come with more risk attached.
Microdermabrasion can be performed on the face, chest, neck, arms or hands, however at home procedures do tend to focus on the face.
Go to the salon or stay at home?
Now, this is a preference thing, but I am all about saving money and saving hassle, so for me, I’m going to be staying at home!
It is worth mentioning that home methods are always going to be less potent than salon treatments, basically because of the machinery and equipment used in a salon, but that doesn’t mean that at home treatments don’t offer major benefits, and as a first port of call, they’re certainly worth a good try.
In a salon, your therapist will use specialised equipment to apply the crystals to your skin, and do the buffing thing, but at home you will probably purchase a scrub or cream and apply the product to your skin with your hands, having washed them thoroughly first, of course. At home products use the same aluminium oxide crystals, so the only major difference is the way you apply them, and the depth to which they go. If this is your first try at microdermabrasion, or you’re still slightly in need of persuasion, then save some money and try it out at home first.
As microdermabrasion has gained popularity, more and more companies have jumped on the trend, and it’s also possible to buy microdermabrasion units for use at home.
One thing to remember – always moisturise after a treatment. Oh, and stay out of the sun for a few days afterwards too.
How much will this all cost?
We’ve mentioned that at home treatments are always going to be cheaper than those done in a salon, albeit a weaker version of the treatment. You can buy products from all the major big hitters in the beauty world, including L’Oreal, Olay, Neutrogena etc, as well as the aforementioned units, which are usually found cheaper online.
A product you buy for at home use will probably contain up to 30 treatments, depending on how much you use at any one time, and depending on the brand you buy, can cost you anything up to around $100. Always remember that you’re better buying a well-known brand, over one that you’ve never heard of but is cheaper. Your skin is precious, and it’s not worth taking a risk to save a few dollars in this way.
The units we were talking about are obviously going to be more expensive, but will last you for a considerable length of time. These are again varied in price, but you can expect to pay anything up to the $300 dollar mark, depending on brand.
In comparison, if you go to a salon and have your microdermabrasion treatment done professionally, you can expect to pay more. This will depend on the area of the body you’re aiming it towards, the number of treatments required, and of course, which salon you go to, but on the whole you can expect to pay between $80 – $200 per treatment. The major plus point to this is of course the fact that you don’t need to do it yourself!
Which units do you recommend?
Read this article for a list of our recommended at home microdermabrasion machines and a handy comparison table that makes it easier to choose your unit.
My first treatment
- See this video article for a demonstration of at home microdermabrasion process on a face.
- Your unit comes with an instruction manual – be sure to read it.
So, to sum it all up …
There is no arguing that microdermabrasion has become a major big-hitter in the beauty world, and it now features on many a salon’s product list, usually at the higher end price-wise. Doing your own treatment at home has many benefits, not to mention the lower cost, and the fact that you don’t have to leave the house!
On a treatment level, microdermabrasion has been scientifically proven to be hugely effective for a number of different skin conditions, and for former sufferers of acne with residual scars, microdermabrasion is the answer to many a prayer. Nobody should have to live with scars and blemishes that make them unhappy with their appearance. Some people can live with such scars and see them as a positive over the past, but for others this isn’t possible.
It all comes down to personal preference, but the bottom line is that our outer layer of skin is what the world sees of us appearance-wise, and if it bothers someone so much, then of course struggling shouldn’t be an option; this is where microdermabrasion has managed to put a smile back on many people’s faces.
So, at home or at the salon? I guess the choice is yours, but if you’re looking at using microdermabrasion as a long-term treatment option, something you’re planning on repeating, and home treatments work for you, well, it makes sense to save some dollar, and keep it all in your own home.