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Why OTC microdermabrasion creams don't work

Updated: Feb 12, 2020

Microdermabrasion is a treatment that completely revolutionized my industry. It was an incredible invention in the 80's masterminded by a couple of doctors and has now become very common place in the spa world.

Over the last few decades (I almost said couple of really doesn't feel that the 80's are that far away...) there have been a few updates and changes to the machine, such as the addition of diamond head tips instead of crystals and even using botanical powders instead of crystals, and now the introduction of hydrodermabrasion (think Hydrafacial), but overall the process has essentially stayed the same for about 35 years.

Microdermabrasion uses a mechanical method of exfoliation coupled with a vacuum to take off the very top layer of skin and stimulate collagen production. The original crystal method shoots every fine particles over the skin and the diamond head tip uses what is essentially extremely fine sandpaper-like bit to "sand" the skin. Hydrodermabrasion is the same as the crystal method, only instead it uses pressurized water shot at your face instead of crystals.

Now all of this may sound crazy, but let me tell you I LOVE microderm/hydrodermabrasion. It is EFFECTIVE. Is it for every skin type? Nope, not at all. But for the majority of people, it smooths skin like a babies butt and stimulates that wound healing mechanism in skin exactly how I need it to be done. I've used it on acne scarring, wrinkles, supplimented it with peels for hyperpigmentation. I love it, I use it.

Now let me tell you what I don't like. Masks that cost more than what I charge for a microdermabrasion treatment claiming to be as good as or better. I wish you could see the look on my face when a lovely 22 year old at Sephora tries to sell me those. "It uses real microderm crystals in it, and it's just as effective and you just use it every night at home!"

There is so much wrong with that sentence.

First of all, what magical fingers do you think I have in order to be rubbing those crystals into my skin at the same speed pressurized air does? I mean, I massage faces every day so my fingers are decently quick and all....but seriously? You are not going to get the same level of exfoliation.

Second, you want me to rub microderm crystals into my face EVERY SINGLE NIGHT? Sure it'll be smooth for a while. But then my skin will start to understand we go through a sand storm every night, so we probably need to thicken up to withstand this nightly bathroom weather anomaly. And like the dutiful inside organ protecting mechanism it was created to be, it'll do just that. Thicken and harden to protect me. That's the opposite of the soft, dewy, and glowing skin that I am constantly after.

But the big one is, where's your suction lady? You think those crystals are what makes my skin produce collagen? No. The suction is. The suction is the power house to that treatment. And I'm pretty sure there's no tiny face Dyson in that jar. The suction is what actually turns your face red from microderm. It brings blood and lymph to every cell. It causes a surge of nutrients and wakes everything up.

So please don't waste your money on microderabrasions in a jar. It's a scrub. It might even be a good scrub. But it's nothing more than a scrub. And for the love of your beautiful face, do not use it every night. Book a microderm or hydroderm treatment with your skin's BFF, your friendly neighborhood esthetician if you're looking for that level of treatment.

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