Microdermabrasion 101: Meet The Exfoliating Powerhouse

Tools & Treatments

Microdermabrasion 101: Meet The Exfoliating Powerhouse

By Janell Hickman

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By definition, the word “microdermabrasion” is pretty straightforward. “Derm” means “skin” and “abrasion” means “the process of scraping or wearing something away.” When combined together, it roughly translates into “scraping of the skin.” The “micro” refers to the scale of the treatment—it’s only done on the outermost layer of skin, the stratum corneum. While this may sound scary at first, the results are transformative when performed by a licensed esthetician.
Why Should I Do It?

Just like cleansing and moisturizing are important steps in your routine, exfoliation plays a key role as well. Microdermabrasion is considered a physical exfoliation because it uses a device to remove dead skin cells, improving tone, reducing congestion, and minimizing fine lines. However, microdermabrasion can’t solve skin marks and damage like birthmarks, freckles, or moles.

What Should I Expect?

Think of microdermabrasion like “an intense scrub-meets-vacuum,” according to Heyday Skincare Educator, Alexandra Serron, noting it’s much more comprehensive than any at-home machine. “The one that we use is kind of like a mini sandblaster,” she explains. The diamond tip wands gently buff and polish dead skin cells or dulling debris. (Yes, you read right: diamonds. They’re so tiny that they’re the perfect combination of gentle and effective to be used on any skin type.) The sloughed-off debris is removed through a vacuum setting, stimulating lymphatic drainage and giving your skin a smooth, refreshed appearance.

Does It Hurt?

No, but it is a professional form of exfoliation so you may feel a bit flushed afterwards—as if you’ve spent a day in the sun! Since it removes the outermost layer of your skin and gives your circulation a boost, you’ll immediately notice a rosy glow

In terms of sensation, we typically compare it to a cat licking your skin—not painful, but perhaps not the most enjoyable either. Ultimately, your esthetician will assess if microdermabrasion is right for you (remember, all facials start with a skin analysis!), ensuring it will benefit your skin and help reach your skincare goals.

How Can I Prep My Skin Pre-Treatment?

We recommend you stop using any exfoliants or prescription topicals (like retinoids!) that would cause your skin to be sensitive at least a week before your treatment. Even if you’re used to microdermabrasion, you’ll still want to avoid products that can potentially lead to a negative reaction. (take a peek at our Microdermabrasion FAQs here!)

We believe clients should plan on getting a facial every four to six weeks depending on their skin type and skin goals. In terms of microdermabrasion, your esthetician will be the best judge, letting you know whether to expect it monthly or keep it to every other facial!

What Do I Do Post-Treatment?

Relax and enjoy your glow—it typically kicks into full effect after three days! Up the ante on hydration and sun protection in the days following your treatment. Around the 3-5 day mark, you can start to incorporate your regular products.

Serron cautions against sweaty physical activities or harsh conditions, like a sauna, for 24 hours following the treatment. “[Microdermabrasion] is still controlled trauma to the skin, so it needs to be handled like you would a baby's skin. I encourage people to let their skin heal as much as possible,” she adds. Any small breakouts (a.k.a. “purging”) you may experience are due to trapped debris coming up the surface and shouldn’t linger!

Her post-treatment product picks include a hydrating or a cooling sheet mask paired with a jade roller, chilled in the fridge. Then, use a calming cream like the Naturopathica Calendula Essential Hydrating Cream to further comfort the skin. This is a top-pick for sensitive skin types all around, or Heyday facial fans who opt for microdermabrasion as their enhancement of choice.

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