Microdermabrasion vs. Peels


Posted on October 10th, by staff in Skincare, This vs That, Treatments. 7 comments

Microdermabrasion vs. Peels

WINNER: Draw. In fact, do them both in one go for optimal results, suggests our expert Giselle DiSanto-Curcio, a medical aesthetician from Whitby, Ontario.

WHY: The combination of microdermabrasion and chemical peel allows technicians to really hone in on specific and more severe skin concerns. This tag-team approach removes all dead skin cells before application of topicals (creams, serums, etc), which contain the specialized active ingredients that you want shuttled deep into your skin in order for them to work more effectively. Think about it this way: dead skin cells absorb up to 90% of product, so it’s beneficial to remove as much dead skin as possible to ensure optimal product absorption. While this double scrub method will work for most people, it is not advisable for very sensitive skin types. Be sure to be upfront with your skin technician before beginning treatment.

How each differ:

Chemical peels come in several different forms; here they are from weakest to strongest.

  • Glycolic Acid Peels and Lactic Acid peels are the most commonly used. These are the most superficial of all peels and are referred to as AHA’s (Alpha-Hydroxy Acids).  AHA’s are naturally occurring acids derived from sugar cane (glycolic) and sour milk (lactic acid). Due to only working on a superficial level, AHA’s are commonly used for mild to moderate exfoliation, balancing and evening out the complexion as well as to promote skin health and overall glow.
  • BHA’s (beta-hydroxy acids) are also used commonly, but for more severe skin conditions. Although they are weaker than AHA’s, these peels are oil soluble, which means they will penetrate deeper into the skin through the pores. Salicylic Acid is a commonly used BHA and works best on treating acne prone skin and any type of congestion with oilier skin types, as they are known to control oil production and acne.
  • TCA peels, or Trichloracetic Peels are deeper peels, ranging in concentrations from 20-50%. Percentages over 30% are most commonly used by medical professionals and dermatologists, as they target the deeper dermal layer of your skin. TCA peels are commonly used for anti-aging, for smoothing out wrinkles, blemishes and correcting skin pigmentation.
  • Phenols are the strongest of peels. These are normally preformed in a medical setting and commonly require a topical anaesthetic, due to the depth of penetration.

Microdermabrasion comes in two forms.

  • Crystal microdermabrasion is administered by a strong flow of micronized crystals (titanium oxide), which are projected onto the skin at a high velocity. Crystal microdermabrasion pierces through the dead skin cells found on the outermost layer of the epidermis, called the corneous layer. While the dead skin cells are loosening up and off the skin, they are then vacuumed off by a suction devise attached to the same hand piece.
  •  Crystal-free microdermabrasion incorporates an abrasive pad or specific diamond coated tip to superficially remove dead skin cells. Some doctors prefer this method of exfoliation, as it does not introduce foreign matter to the skin. There are various grits on these tips, which are used in accordance to skin type and tolerance.