Do home microdermabrasion kits work?

Liz’s abrasive question: Tell me about those drug store microdermabrasion kits, such as the the Neutrogena Advanced Solutions At Home MicroDermabrasion System. Do they really work? Are they effective for reducing the appearance of small, minor scars from acne and the texture of skin overall? How is microdermbrasion different from regular exfoliating?


The Right Brain’s Micro-Reply:

The American Academy of Plastic Surgeons define microdermabrasion thusly:


Microdermabrasion is a skin-freshening technique that helps repair facial skin that takes a beating from the sun and the effects of aging. The plastic surgeon uses a device like a fine sandblaster to spray tiny crystals across the face, mixing gentle abrasion with suction to remove the dead, outer layer of skin. As with other skin rejuvenation techniques, more than one treatment may be needed to reduce or remove fine wrinkles and unwanted pigmentation. (You can go here if you want to read more about “real” microdermabrasion)

So what does all this mean?

Well, basically, there are no hard and fast legal or scientific definitions to work with here. So, any product or process that exfolliates the skin with tiny particles can really call itself microdermabrasion. (micro = tiny, derm = skin and abrasion = scraping the heck out of the upper layers of the skin to increase cell turnover and expose fresher layers beneath.) Even a spa bath can exfolliate.

If you’re serious about the abrasion part of the equation, then we’d recommend hooking up with a dermatologist and get the real thing. Here’s an excellent article that indicates that when done properly, microdermabrasion can reduce fine lines and wrinkles and superficial scars.

But if all you want is a quick beauty-in-a-bottle fix, there’s nothing wrong with trying the over the counter stuff. Products like Neutrogena At Home Microdermabrasion use aluminum oxide crystals, the same type of abrasive particles used in professional treatments and will exfoliate your skin. Of course so will a tube of St. Ives Apricot Scrub. The former will cost you about $35.00 and the latter is only $3.00.

The Brains Bottom Line:

Do the home microdermabrasion kits work? Well, they’ll certainly exfolliate and there’s no harm in giving them a shot. But if you’re serious about stripping away significant layers of your skin, you’d be better of considering professional treatment. Besides, if do it yourself and you screw up, you don’t have anyone to sue!