One of the best treatments out there really is microdermabrasion - acne scars, hyperpigmentation (those dark spots you get after pimples), shrinking pore size are just some of what microdermabrasion can buff away for you. I know, I know - these are huge claims, but I’m telling you, don’t sleep on at-home microdermabrasion! It definitely has a rep for being only for older, more mature skin to smooth over wrinkles - but that’s not all that it can do.
You can think of microdermabrasion as basically a much finer, but much more potent and targeted version of the apricot scrub that you use in the shower - it exfoliates your skin on such a fine level, that it basically solves all skin issues. Seriously, how good does that sound?
To put it really simply, microdermabrasion devices usually use diamond or crystal tips to gently exfoliate skin, coupled with a gentle suction that vacuums away the debris (usually a mix of dead skin and any loose crystals. Gross!)
And when I say microdermabrasion is super gentle, I mean super gentle - I swear it just feels like getting a tongue bath from a very aggressively affectionate kitty! You might feel a little flushed and red afterward, but that's nothing that can't be taken care of with a nice, soothing sheet mask (pro tip: pop one in the fridge for about fifteen minutes before using!)
Microdermabrasion works by removing the top layer of skin cells, instantly adding radiance and glow and in the long run, encouraging cell turnover and loosening any gunk out of your pores. This is the major key to what makes dermabrasion so amazing. By striking first and thoroughly deep-cleaning pores via microdermabrasion, you give black heads and pimples no chance to grow - hello, flawless skin!
It's also able to stimulate your skin's own natural collagen production process - and this isn't just for the mature skin crowd. Supporting collagen production helps to fade pigmentation and smooth over bumpy acne scars. If you're prone to congestion or want to tackle darkness left behind from that one horrific breakout you got for no reason, your best friend is going to be microdermabrasion. For acne scarring, it works incredibly well - and you can easily get into a routine of using it every week or so for the best skin of your life. And the best thing about it is that you don’t even need to go to a facialist to get it done - there are plenty of esthetician-approved devices that you can use right at home - but none of them come in millennial pink (sorry!), at least not yet.
Microdermabrasion machines are a total blessing because they essentially pay for themselves. The catch with dermabrasion - and pretty much all skincare - is that results aren’t instant. You'll need a couple of sessions (ideally spaced 2-4 weeks apart, FYI) to help skin with its turnover. if you make just one beauty-related New Year's resolution, let it be microdermabrasion - acne scars will fade, your blackheads will literally disappear, and you’ll have the most poreless skin of your life. I promise!
Is Microdermabrasion Right For Me?
So, there are a couple things that you need to know before taking the plunge with your chosen magic skin wand - since you’re here reading this post, it’s likely that you’re already using something to try and combat your acne, or smooth over hyperpigmentation and acne scars left behind by it.Does microdermabrasion help acne? Absolutely, yes. Does microdermabrasion help acne scars? Absolutely, yes again.
The catch is, here are a few contraindications (that is, something that makes microdermabrasion for acne scars or other skin issues not advisable for you) that you need to consider before you go ahead and begin using dermabrasion.
Most of the time, you can still use microdermabrasion with some modification to your routine - but it’s worth going through this checklist and seeing if any of these apply to you, and what you need to do to fit dermabrasion into your routine.
Before You Start Dermabrasion, You Should Consider…
1. If you already use a topical anti-acne product.
If you use any anti-acne product - whether it's benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or a prescription retinoid - then the only step you need to take is to ease off a few days before you plan to have a little session of micro dermabrasion. Acne won’t spring up suddenly if you take one or two days off from your regular zit zapper.
I’m serious, by the way - you’re not gonna break out (promise!) just because you didn’t use your pimple cream for a few days, and especially not if you are using microdermabrasion for acne in the meantime. Holding back two or three days before your session gives your skin a little downtime, better preparing it for microdermabrasion. Blackhead treatments also fall into this category, FYI! So no pore strips or clay masks in the days before your microderm session.
2. If you're prone to rosacea flare-ups.
If you’re not sure about what rosacea is, it’s basically when your skin is flushed, sensitive, and red for what seems like no reason at all. Annoying, right? If this happens a lot to you, it could be a form of rosacea.
The thing about rosacea is that it puts your skin in a constant state of sensitivity, which means it might not be able to tolerate microdermabrasion as well as someone that doesn’t have it. In this case, only your dermatologist can assess your skin and give you the green light for microdermabrasion for blackheads, acne, or any acne scarring.
3. If you’re using Accutane.
If you’re taking Accutane, known as isotretinoin, then you are best off waiting to finish your course before using any skin treatments like dermabrasion. Acne scars left behind after your treatment course are fair game, though! Accutane is a powerful drug that makes your skin incredibly sensitive (which you probably already know), to any treatment.
I know how tempting it is to want to go totally ham and use every single acne-zapping thing possible, but if you’re on Accutane, your skin needs to be totally babied and kept away from anything resurfacing. It just can’t handle it! But, after, and only after, your course is done (and with your dermatologist’s blessing) microdermabrasion is a perfect option to help smooth over any acne scars and maintain your now acne-free skin.
4. If you use chemical exfoliants or chemical peels.
Using an acidic toner or going for regular chemical peels are two super common and super effective options for dealing with dark spots and acne scars. If you already use one of these, great! You can really ramp up your results if you combine it with a regular session to really take advantage of dermabrasion for acne scars.
Like with the anti-acne treatments, giving your skin a little bit of breathing room between a chemical exfoliant and microdermabrasion is key to getting the most out of both. If you don’t take the time to rest your skin in between, you run a real risk of over-exfoliating and irritating your skin. You don’t want that - you WILL be left red, peeling, and looking like you fell asleep in the sun without any sunscreen… Yikes.
5. If you have a lot of inflamed, cystic acne.
This is a tricky one. Is microdermabrasion good for acne? Yes - but up to a point. If your acne is particularly inflamed and covers a lot of your face, skipping microdermabrasion in favor of other acne treatments might be better for you - trust me, you don’t want to make your already vulnerable skin even more upset and inflamed! Microdermabrasion is inherently going to be slightly irritating for your skin. It is a tiny scrape after all, aka microabrasion. Acne can be slightly too sensitive for direct contact with a microdermabrasion wand.
If you only have a little bit of acne, it’s still really important not to go over any active breakouts or recently popped zits. Why? The thing is, when you go over a zit with any kind of tool, you transfer the pimple-causing bacteria to the tool that you’re using. If you proceed to go over the rest of your face with it, then congrats - you’ve literally just introduced that bacteria all over your face! So - let’s just say going over active pimples with a microdermabrasion wand isn’t a good idea.Now that we’ve gone over what you need to know about microdermabrasion, here are five of the best at-home microdermabrasion machines to decongest pores and fade acne scars.
Michael Todd is once again showing that they're ahead of the skincare technology game. What's new? Their latest skincare gadget is the only microdermabrasion machine that features a built-in micromister - and no, I don’t mean a tiny man attached to the device mansplaining skincare to you. Ick, how annoying.
I mean a wee little spout that puffs out any soothing liquid you want to on your skin - purified water, your fave calming toner, anything! It’s perfect for soothing skin literally as you’re treating your skin, reducing your likelihood of looking like a tomato at the end of every microderm session. There’s a super handy demo here if you can't quite visualize exactly how it works with the mister.
And the fact that it’s built-in isn’t even the best part - normally, microdermabrasion requires skin to be squeaky clean and bone dry for the machine to work. This little gadget changes the game by being able to be used wet and dry for fantastic results - and making it a great option for users with especially sensitive skin.
It also utilizes the sonic technology that Michael Todd is known for in basically all their other products, which makes their device an excellent choice for at-home microdermabrasion. Blackheads, dark spots, and acne scars don’t stand a chance!
I’m not gonna lie, this is probably the most aesthetically pleasing of all the machines in this list. Is it not breathtaking? Or maybe white and rose gold is just my personal color-combo weakness…
Aesthetics aside, the Trophy Skin comes with a specialized Pore Extraction tip, perfect for all my acne-prone gals that want to get rid of their extra dead skin cells and purify their pores. The two other tips included in the kit are the standard Diamond Tip and the Pore Infusion tip - using the specialized tips in problem areas such as the T-Zone and cheeks can really help you get more out of your microdermabrasion for pores that are practically undetectable.
It does offer a little more flexibility in the way of suction levels, which I know a lot of people will appreciate - it has four different strengths, making it super adaptable to even the most sensitive of skin. Depending on your skin, you could take a while to build up a tolerance to the highest strength, but remember that it's not a goal. A lot of users rarely use the strongest setting on their devices - but that just goes to show that these are the same strength as the one you'd find in a clinic!
While a lot of at-home microdermabrasion machines can come with a lot of bells and whistles (LED screens! Timer modes! Pre-programmed routines!) sometimes, simple is best. Everything I’ve chosen on this list is because they’re crazy easy to use, plus the last thing you want to do when you’re trying to pamper yourself is fiddle with way too many buttons and knobs.
This one really takes the cake as the simplest one to use - I promise! You can literally think of this one as the microdermabrasion machine on training wheels. Just turn it on, and away you go. The Silk’n Revit has to be one of the simplest, most foolproof microdermabrasion machines ever. Seriously.
It's also the most comfortable to hold (you can literally hold it like a pen) and has two levels of suction, keeping the entire microdermabrasion process super streamlined and easy. And honestly, that's how the process should be - incredibly gentle, hyper-effective, dermabrasion. Acne scarring will be smoothed over in no time, blackheads will shrink away and literally disappear. Here’s to good skin!
The Kelley West Microderm is the only microdermabrasion machine on this list that has a fully swiveling neck to make sure that you can really get in there and get every square inch of skin that is in dire need of microdermabrasion - like hello, jawline and neck? Way too many people forget about bringing their skincare down their neck (including me sometimes, especially if I've had a few too many wines!)
The swivel neck is also a total lifesaver when it comes to using the coarser microdermabrasion tip on your body (remember, the body tip should ONLY be used on the body!)
The two speeds are designed especially to help your skin build up a tolerance to microderm abrasion. Acne, blackheads, and acne scars will still be wiped out, even at lower levels of suction - powerful isn’t always going to be better. Never begin using a machine on the highest setting! That’s a recipe for disaster, girl! You’ll know when your skin is ready to move up to a higher setting if you find your skin is less and less irritated over time.
This is one of the most comfortable microdermabrasion machines to use - totally handheld, plus it comes with a super-chic travel bag, perfect for packing away with you on trips.
So... Which One Should I Choose?
Before you run out and buy one of these to proudly display on your skincare vanity and maybe take a few photos of for the ‘Gram, let me remind you that you’ve got to stay committed to a regular routine if you use one of these.
Now - you might be thinking sure, whatever, I’ll just use it when my skin is feeling dull… No girl. Mark the days on your calendar and COMMIT. If you don’t make a microdermabrasion session a normal part of your routine, you will not see the results you’re looking for in your skin. Facts are facts!
All of these devices are pretty freaking amazing, especially since they’re all more than capable of giving you an insanely luxurious, spa-level treatment for a fraction of the price. For acne-prone skin though, I would have to say the Trophy Skin RejuvadermMD takes the crown - the specialized tips are the perfect size for clearing those pesky blackheads on and around your nose but is still going to be perfect for fading and smoothing over any acne scars once you've got your breakouts under control. You will have glowing skin in no time - here’s to good skin days ahead!
Here’s to better skin days ahead with microdermabrasion!
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About the author Stephanie Morin
NYC-based beauty and skin care blogger, Stephanie delivers a healthy dose of practical beauty tips coupled with medical insight for some serious skin care inspiration!