Chemical Peels Versus Micro Dermabrasion Products

I've had a chemical peel (a glycolic peel) three months after my first facial microdermabarasion treatment (after I'd gained some experience with skin rejuvenation). In some ways, peels and microderm abrasions are similar, which is why so many people refer to microderm as a microdermabrasion peel. Microdermabrasion is by nature, a mechanical peel. It uses a stream of crystals (or a diamond tip wand) and suction to gently exfoliate the skin, while chemical peels achieve the same effect using milder or stronger acid solutions. But a peel and microderm don't mix and match.

Shop for Over the counter Chemical Acid Peels that are safe to use at home (professional strength gel peels).

Microdermabrasion and Chemical Peeling Comparison

This is important: chemical peeling and micro dermabrasion are both resurfacing procedures that exfoliate the skin. Used together, they can cause serious damage to the skin because of the double peeling effect.

While microdermabrasion works well on superficial skin imperfections (some acne scars, fine lines, wrinkles, enlarged pores and sun spots), a chemical peel is more effective on serious skin problems like deeper scars and wrinkles. But the after care and downtime are also longer.


Unlike micro dermabrasion, chemical peels come in different strengths: mild, medium and deep (see below). Deep chemical peels sometime need anesthesic because the discomfort is quite high whereas microdermabasion doesn't hurt (all I felt was a tingling sensation and a warm rush to the face).

The recovery time after a chemical peel depends on what peeling acid was used. Glycolic peels are best (but less effective) because they are mild while a phenol treatment needs 1-2 weeks of downtime (with face bandages, painkillers and antibiotics). It may take 3 months for the redness on your skin to fade completely. With micoderm abrasion, the recovery takes from a few hours to a few days, at most.

The most important concern for me was the side effects. I would never have a deep chemical because of the risks (it can cause burns, swelling, serious flaking, scarring and permanent changes in the color of the skin) but a glycolic peel is fairly safe because it's so mild (as is microderm abrasion which only causes some mild redness and stinging which fade after a few hours).

For microdermabration to be effective, you need 6 to 12 sessions (scheduled 2 weeks apart), and a maintenance session every 2-3 months. Deep phenol chemical peeling is performed only once in a person's lifetime, while a mild chemical peel needs a session every 6 weeks, over the course of a few months. A medium chemical peel should be performed once every 2-3 months for at least a year.


Both micro dermabrasion and chemical peels work on your face, neck, chest, back and hands. They both last for about 30 minutes for facial resurfacing and up to an hour for the neck and chest.

They can both be performed in doctor's offices, spas or beauty salons but also in the privacy of your own home (medium and deep chemical peels are only done in-office because they're more aggressive and dangerous). Over-the-counter products are, in both cases, less effective than the professional procedure.

Home chemical peel products which are milder, are available for $15-$100 while personal microderm products cost, on average, $20-$50.

Common Chemical Peeling Agents

If you're set on trying a chemical peel I strongly recommend you start with an over the counter mild one (a glycolic peel or a salicylic peel). These are by far the most popular peels:

The following three are much more effective but also more invasive:

Cost of Chemical Peels and Microdermbrasion

Mild chemical peels like glycolic peels are slightly more expensive than micoderm (a microdermabrasion costs between $75 and $200 while prices for mild chemical peels range between $150 to $300).

Full medium chemical face peel costs significantly more (between $1,000 to $2,000), while a deep chemical peel costs between $2,000 and $7,000 (the cost includes consultation, anesthetic, hospital and medication fees).

Next, a few tips on home microderm kits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does Microdermbrasion Work For Young People?

A: Micro dermabration is safe for young people of all skin types but most doctors recommend it for patients aged 14 and older, mainly because they want to make sure that all major hormonal changes are over and the results of the procedure are as good as they can be.

Q: What Is The Difference Between Micro Dermabrasion And AHAs?

A: AHAs are used as light chemical peels. They remove the uppermost layer of skin. Light chemical peels and micro abrasion are both non-invasive procedures that can also be performed at-home with special consumer kits. Neither has any major risks or side-effects and both have limited effectiveness. They can help diminish or even remove superficial scarring and wrinkles, age spots, stretch marks and uneven skin texture. For deeper skin imperfections, you may need a more invasive procedure.

Q: Is Microdermal Abrasion Effective On Your Neck?

A: Do-It-Yourself microabrasions creams can be used on your neck as long as it's especially formulated as a facial micro derm abrasion product (unless otherwise stated). Using a body micro abrasion kit on your neck may be too harsh and result in irritation. Office microdermabrasion is suitable for use on the neck.

Q: Does Microdermabration From Dr Brandt Work?

A: The Self micoderm abrasion products from Dr Brandt works for some people and doesn't work for others. There are many happy customers who say that Dr Brandt product does make their skin look younger and feel smother. However, there are some unhappy consumers who say the kit is either too aggressive, causing them skin irritations and break-outs, or not very effective in removing fine scars and wrinkles. The only way to find out if the product works for you is to try to get a free sample and test the formula on your face.

Q: How Can Microdermabration Help Improve Skin Complexion?

A: This procedure exfoliates the top layer of skin which consists of dead skin cells. Derma microabrasion product stimulates collagen production, essential to healthy skin and also evens out skin texture and tone.

Q: Microdermal Abrasion Is It Recommended While Pregnant?

A: We recommend that you wait until you deliver your baby and finish the nursing period before microdermabrasions Your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy and nursing and microdermabasion machines may cause irritation or severe scarring. This procedure is also not recommended for pregnant and nursing women because hormonal changes during this period may reduce the effectiveness of the procedure.

Q: What Does Your Skin Look Like After Micro Derma Abrasion?

A: The skin stays a bit pinkish for a few hours after the microdermabrasion. You will feel a mild sunburn-like sensation for the rest of the day. Scabbing and swelling are extremely rare, but can happen if you have extremely sensitive skin. micro dermabration fades in a few hours after the procedure.

Q: Can Microderm Abrasion Help The Skin?

A: By resurfacing the top layer of the skin, OTC microdermabarasion does work. It can help fight mild acne, acne scarring, clogged and enlarged pores, age and sun spots, stretch marks, freckles, and fine lines, tired and dull skin. More severe skin imperfections require more invasive procedures like laser or chemical peeling. Home microderm is also not as effective as spa microdermal abrasion.

Q: Can Micro Abrasion Be Used After Accutane (Isotretinoin)?

A: Microdermabrasian is not recommended for patients taking Accutane. This acne treatment works by reducing the amount of oil produced by the skin's sebaceous glands which reduces the skin's ability to recover after body or facial exfoliation. Having microdermabration while on Accutane may cause permanent scarring. This applies to self kit and doctor-performed treatment.

Q: How Can Micro Dermabration Help If You Have African American Skin?

A: Self microdermabrasia tool is appropriate for all skin colors (including African American skin ) because this procedure sandblasts only the outermost skin layer which is made of dead skin cells. There's no damage to live tissue which could cause scarring or severe irritation. The exfoliation process involved in spa microdermabasion helps the skin renew itself quicker and more effectively.