Letting a machine scrub off the top layer of your skin doesn’t sound like a particularly appealing prospect.
Nevertheless, microdermabrasion is growing in popularity thanks to its ability to rejuvenate tired and congested skin, reduce minor skin blemishes and diminish the effect of fine lines.
The simple beauty treatment sees a therapist using a handheld device to direct a stream of tiny crystals to remove the superficial layer of dead skin cells. These are then vacuumed away using mild suction, stimulating the production of collagen and unveiling a fresh and glowing complexion.
How does microdermabrasion work?
When the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin) is removed, the body interprets it as an injury and rapidly replaces the lost skin cells with new, healthy ones. Blood flow is stimulated, boosting the nutrition delivered to skin cells; improved cell production serves to improve skin elasticity and texture.
In short, the condition of the skin’s surface will be improved, targeting: aging skin, stretch marks, pigmentation, cellulite, dry and dehydrated skin and acne scarring.
However, the treatment is not recommended for skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, dermatitis, active sunburn, herpes, lupus, open sores, psoriasis, fragile capillaries or widespread acne. In these cases, microdermabrasion can irritate the skin and cause further breakouts. It will also be ineffective on scars, stretch marks and deep wrinkles.
Best results tend to be noted by people between 35 and 50, in the early stages of aging.
What’s it like to experience Microdermabrasion?
I decided to try out microdermabrasion myself at Blush and Blow – a bright and modern beauty salon in London, UK. Most of my initial concerns evaporate as I lie down on the softest beauty bed I’ve ever encountered and a duvet is pulled over me.
My beautician, Gyorgyi Szombati, gently cleans my face before applying the device’s nozzle to my face. I’m instantly reassured that it’s not a painful process in the slightest. It’s a bit like an abrasive – but not unpleasant – thumb repeatedly stroking my skin.
Gyorgyi informs me she will steer clear of any spots to avoid breaking the skin and spreading bacteria, but she goes over the majority of my face more than once. Admittedly, it’s on the second go that my skin starts to sting slightly, although it’s far from uncomfortable.
It’s all over in under 30 minutes and I can’t wait to see my new face. At this stage, however, all I can really see is that my skin is just redder, although Gyorgyi insists she can already see a glow; it certainly feels much softer.
What aftercare is required?
It may have a reputation for a ‘lunchtime facial’ but Lesley Spencer, clinical director at beauty clinic Chaelis Clinic in Northamptonshire, UK, recommends avoiding makeup for 24 hours following a session.
“After microdermabrasion, the more sensitive skins will feel a little tight, maybe red, and somewhat sunburned,” she tells me. “For homecare, we ask clients to moisturize often and always wear a good UVA and UVB sunscreen (at least SPF 30).”
Hitting the gym also isn’t advisable. Lesley adds: “We wouldn’t recommend a heavy workout or any strenuous exercise for at least 24 hours. If the skin is sensitive, sweating is not a good idea.”
How long will the effects of microdermabrasion last?
The effects of the treatment should last for about a month, depending on your skin type, as your skin will then start to renew itself.
Most dermatologists advise having a microdermabrasion treatment every four weeks to maintain the clear and plumped effect it has on the skin.
Jennie Lawson, founder of beauty salon Mimosa Beauty in Chelmsford, UK, recommends alternating between a microdermabrasion one month and a peel the next.
“The microderm will remove the dead skin cells and keep the surface clear and more receptive to the products you put on it,” she explains. “The peel will work deeper into the skin right down to the basal layer which will help to improve the cellular condition of the skin, plump it, tone it and give it a more youthful appearance.”
Is microdermabrasion dangerous?
Whatever approach you take, rest easy knowing microdermabrasion is a perfectly safe procedure and there are no side effects.
That said, the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK says: “Take time to find a reputable practitioner who is properly qualified and practices in a clean, safe and appropriate environment. Ask the practitioner what you should do if something were to go wrong.”
How does it compare to other facial treatments?
“Most facial treatments, such as peels, PRP (platelet rich plasma) and laser treatments can be considered to be tougher on the skin than microdermabrasion,” says Lesley.
“However, the non-clinical facials offered in most salons are gentle. But do check with technicians and practitioners before undergoing any other treatments.”
In the UK, microdermabrasion costs £40-100 for a single session and in the US, on, average, it can range from $75-$200.
If you’re looking to avoid splashing that much cash, home microdermabrasion is possible thanks to microdermabrasion cloths as well as home kits such as PMD’s Personal Microderm System.
How else can you ensure clear skin?
Of course, it’s vital you look after your skin day in, day out no matter when or if you have professional treatments.
Gyorgyi’s advice for clear skin is to clean thoroughly each day before you go to bed. “You definitely need to do double cleansing,” she insists, “and make sure that you wash your eyebrows properly, too, as powders and makeup can get trapped between the hairs which can lead to clogged pores.” She also advises exfoliating once a week.
Lesley’s chief recommendation to ensure good skin is to always wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water: “It aids in purification and removal of the body’s toxins. Water also plumps up tissue and helps to give a glowing skin, mind and body,” she says.
What’s our Verdict?
As for me, while I initially found the instruction to avoid wearing make-up that night alarming (I had a party to go to), by the time I got home I didn’t feel concerned in the slightest. My skin appeared tauter and noticeably brighter.
What’s more, my friends later commented on my good skin and were impressed that I wasn’t wearing makeup – so microdermabrasion gets a thumbs up from me.
To find a reputable microdermabrasion practitioner in the UK, go to www.saveface.co.uk
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