Microdermabrasion vs Chemical Peel (Acne, Wrinkles, Dark Spots)

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Microdermabrasion and chemical peels are very popular skincare treatments. Most people prefer them because they are pain-free, take a short period of time to be conducted, and also give quality and long-term results. But what is the difference between these two types of treatment? What are their benefits, and what are their possible side effects? And which of the two is better? In this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about microdermabrasion vs chemical peel to help you determine which treatment is best for acne, wrinkles, and dark spots.
Microdermabrasion - Microdermabrasion vs Chemical Peel

What Is Microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive skin treatment procedure that uses tiny crystals to help remove the superficial layer of dead skin cells.
The reason why this procedure is very popular is that it is noninvasive and does not involve the use of chemicals.
Microdermabrasion helps to remove the outer layer of the skin as well as dead skin to reveal fresh, smooth and glowing healthy skin underneath. This procedure helps to rejuvenate your skin, giving it a brighter complexion.

How Does Microdermabrasion Work?

Microdermabrasion works by either swiping a diamond/crystal tipped wand gently on your skin or firing pressurized crystals on the surface of your skin to exfoliate the top layer of your skin surface, removing all dead skin layers and impurities.
A built-in vacuum will then suck all impurities and dead skin cells that have been removed, leaving you with a brighter, smoother and clearer skin. The fact that this procedure is noninvasive means that it does not require the use of numbing agents or any other medication. The treatment also does not hurt.

Diamond/Crystal-Tip Microdermabrasion

Diamond-tip or crystal-tip microdermabrasion is a modern, effective and pain-free exfoliating method that uses a diamond-tipped or crystal-tipped wand to remove impurities and dead skin cells from your skin surface.
This procedure works for every skin type and is very effective in eliminating age spots, wrinkles, stretch marks, acne and much more. The tip can last for a period of between six months and one year, depending on the usage and maintenance.

Crystal Microdermabrasion

Crystal microdermabrasion involves the use of a crystal emitting handpiece that spays fine crystals on the outer layer of the skin to exfoliate and remove impurities and dead skin cells.

Common types of crystals used include sodium bicarbonate and aluminum oxide. Most skincare specialists typically advise their patients having significant skin problems to rather use diamond-tipped or crystal-tipped machines because they are far gentler and safer on the skin and also more effective.

What Are The Benefits Of Microdermabrasion?

It Treats Multiple Skin Problems

Microdermabrasion is used to treat a wide range of skin conditions including wrinkles and fine lines, age spots and hyperpigmentation, acne scarring, dull skin, enlarged and clogged pores, blackheads, stretch marks, and much more.

It is also suitable for all skin types.

It Improves Internal Skin Health

One of the greatest benefits of microdermabrasion is that it helps to improve the internal health of the skin by enhancing lymphatic and blood circulation.
When blood circulation is enhanced, it means that more nutrients and oxygen will be supplied to the cells thus enhancing your skin’s overall health.

It Stimulates Cell Turnover

Many factors contribute to skin cell turnover slowing down, such as natural aging, sun exposure, hormones, and more, as a result, the skin appears tired, dull, and generally lacks vitality and glow.
Microdermabrasion stimulates the skin to create new skin cells and produce more collagen and elastin, the final result is more vibrant, youthful, and plumped looking skin.

It Increases The Absorption Of Skincare Product By Up To 50%

If you want to get the best from your skincare products, then you need microdermabrasion. Research has shown that this skin treatment procedure can help to increase the absorption of skincare products on your skin by up to 50%. This is because it helps to enhance circulation, reduce inflammation and remove dead skin.
The fact that it enhances product efficacy means that if you are treating your skin for any dermatological condition, then your skin will be more receptive to the products.

It Is Safe And Gives Great Results

Microdermabrasion is deemed to be a safe and effective procedure for almost all skin types; it is the best alternative for more invasive skincare treatments such as laser skin resurfacing and deep chemical peeling.
The fact that it does not require the use of medication means that you don’t have to worry about side effects as it is usually the case with other skincare procedures.

Is Microdermabrasion Painful?

No, microdermabrasion is not painful at all. You may feel a bit uncomfortable during the treatment and your skin may tighten for a few hours. However, the entire treatment process is not painful.

What Are The Side Effects Of Microdermabrasion?

After the microdermabrasion procedure, your skin may feel a little bit dry and tight and may remain pink for about 24 hours.
In case of crystal-based microdermabrasion in which crystals are projected onto the skin, you may also feel eye irritation just in case some crystal gets in. Eye irritation can be prevented by wearing an eye protection device.

Other than these small side effects that usually disappear within 24 hours, there are no other known side effects caused by microdermabrasion.

Microdermabrasion At Home

Unlike the past where microdermabrasion was only done at salons or skincare clinics, today there are many at-home microdermabrasion kits that you can use to treat your skin at the comfort of your home.
Microdermabrasion devices for home use are easy to use and very effective. They are also portable, meaning that you can carry them wherever you like.
If you want to find out more about at-home microdermabrasion, check out our article that features the best microdermabrasion devices for home use, and covers everything you need to know about microdermabrasion.

Chemical Peels

Chemical Peels - Microdermabrasion vs Chemical Peel

What Are Chemical Peels?

A chemical peel is a cosmetic skin treatment procedure in which a chemical solution, such as salicylic acid, or glycolic acid, is applied to the skin to remove the top layer of dead skin cells. Once the top layer is removed, the skin grows back smoother, brighter and younger-looking.

How Do Chemical Peels Work?

Chemical peeling consists of applying peeling solutions to the skin in order to exfoliate and peel off the outer layer of the skin, promote cell renewal, and stimulate collagen production.

The new regenerated skin is brighter, smoother and younger-looking.
There are different strengths of chemical peels, ranging from superficial peels that are light and gentle and heal quickly, to medium or strong peels that penetrate to the middle layer of the skin to remove damaged cells; this type of peeling can take several weeks to heal.

Light to Mild Chemical Peels:

The results achieved with light to mild chemical peel are similar to those achieved with a microdermabrasion treatment as those two treatments work on the outer layer of the skin. They are generally used to address superficial skin concerns such as wrinkles and fine lines, age spots, hyperpigmentation, dullness, sun damage, etc.

Strong and Medium Chemical Peels:

Strong and medium chemical peels are usually performed once and only by a physician; they are used to treat acne scars, deep wrinkles, blotchy skin, precancerous growths, etc.

Generally, a single acid or a combination of acids such as lactic acid, salicylic acid, malic acid, and more are used during the treatments.

What Are The Benefits Of Chemical Peels?

Chemical peels have many benefits to the skin, not only do they reveal a smooth, brighter and more refined complexion, but they also help to improve the overall feel and look of your skin in just one treatment.

The main benefits of chemical peeling include:
  • Helps exfoliate the skin and leaves it smoother and silkier
  • Minimizes sun damage, sun spots, dark spots, freckles and pigmentation
  • Reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines (Light peel is a good option for moderate lines, while deep peel is an effective treatment for deeper wrinkles).
  • Helps to remove all superficial scars, blemishes, and visible skin imperfections
  • Helps to stimulate growth of healthy skin cells and new collagen for a more radiant complexion
  • Increases products efficacy

Are Chemical Peels Painful?

Light and medium peels do not hurt; however, the patient may experience some discomfort during the procedure.
Patients who undergo strong chemical peels may need using pain killers during or after the treatment. The pain usually subsides after a few hours after treatment.

What Are The Side Effects Of Chemical Peels?

Possible side effects of chemical peels include dryness, redness, burning, stinging slight swelling, increased photosensitivity, in some cases, people with sensitive skin may experience scarring or pigmentation problems.
However, most side effects experienced are temporary and usually subside after a few days.

Chemical Peel At Home

Chemical peel at home is designed to help you shed a dull layer of your skin in favor of a more vibrant, fresh skin at the comfort of your home or office. You can perform chemical peel at home to diminish the appearance wrinkles and fine lines, hyperpigmentation, acne spots, uneven skin, dry scaly skin, rough patches, and much more.
Currently, there are thousands of at-home chemical peels, masks, and wipe products on the market, many of them use the same ingredients as those used by professionals.
Ensure that you choose one that uses chemicals that have been clinically tested and proven to give quality results; do a patch test to avoid any adverse reactions; read directions carefully. Also, make sure to protect your skin from the sun by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen during treatment.
Before applying the treatment, make sure your skin is clean and makeup-free.

FAQ - Microdermabrasion vs Chemical Peel

Microdermabrasion vs. Chemical Peel (Acne, Wrinkles, Dark Spots)

Microdermabrasion Vs. Chemical Peel, Which One Is Better For Acne?

Microdermabrasion is not the right treatment option for active acne; in fact, it can make your acne much worse as it physically damages the skin, plus, it can hurt when done over inflamed acne.

On the other hand, chemical peels are effective for treating active acne, salicylic acid, in particular, is recommended for active acne for its anti-inflammatory properties and because it can help unclog pores and reduce skin oil production. Thanks to its ability to unclog pores, it is also recommended for minimizing large pores.

If you have acne scars, a chemical peel is a great option to help fade them. Their active ingredients help boost collagen production, which speeds the healing process of acne scars.

Microdermabrasion Vs. Chemical Peel, Which One Is Better For Wrinkles?

When it comes to addressing moderate wrinkles and fine lines, both microdermabrasion and light chemical peels give desirable results as both treatments increase the amount of collagen the skin produces, which helps maintain skin’s elasticity.

On the other hand, deep wrinkles are best treated with deep chemical peels.

Microdermabrasion Vs. Chemical Peel, Which One Is Better For Dark Spots?

Again, both treatments give great results when it comes to lightening dark spots.

Medium and deep peels can dramatically reduce dark spots in one or two in-office sessions, but take a couple of weeks to heal; to achieve similar results with microdermabrasion or light peels, it is recommended to perform a series of sessions.

Can You Get A Chemical Peel And Microdermabrasion At The Same Time?

Yes, the two skin treatment procedures can be performed at the same time to get more effective results. Combining the two treatments can give you better results within a short period of time.
It is recommended to perform a microdermabrasion session first to prepare the skin to better absorb the peel for greater results, then follow with the chemical peel; however, people with sensitive skin should avoid combining the two treatments.
Judy Rose

Hi, it’s Judy!

I’m a passionate skincare specialist and writer. I have more than 7 years of experience as a beauty, fashion, and lifestyle writer and editor, and I’m extremely passionate about what I do.