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Difference Between a Peel and Microdermabrasion


There are many beauty products designed to remove rough skin and reveal the healthy epidermis underneath, but two stand out above the rest: peels and microdermabrasion. Both are popular spa treatments for people that want softer, smoother skin.

But what’s the difference between a facial peel and microdermabrasion?



Think of it as gentle sanding for the skin. The top layer of epidermis is buffed away with a wand that spouts grains or crystallines that remove the skin. The wand also sucks up dead skin and used grains, pulls impurities to the surface and makes it easier to work on small sections of the skin.

Another option for microdermabrasion is a diamond tip wand that’s run over the skin to slough it off. In both types of microdermabrasion this removal prompts the body to quickly replace the lost layer of skin with a fresh new one.

Areas Treated

Treatments are typically done to the face, neck, chest and hands.

Results and Aftercare

After one microdermabrasion you’ll immediately have softer feeling skin with few side effects. Depending on your skin, you’ll likely have mild swelling and redness for an hour or two after the treatment, however it can last as long as two days. It’s important to wear sunscreen to protect the skin in the days following a microdermabrasion.

Surface imperfections including fine lines and blemishes are improved after microdermabrasion. A residual benefit is that with the top layer out of the way creams, serums and moisturizers can get to the deeper layers of the skin more easily.


Microdermabrasions are usually done once a month when performed with a professional level machine. However, there are at-home microdermabrasion treatments and scrubs that are milder and can be used more frequently.

The Idea Behind Chemical Peels


Like microdermabrasion, chemical peels are used to remove the dull top layers of skin. There are numerous types of chemical peels, but the most common peels include:

  • Glycolic acid
  • AHA
  • Trichloroacetic acid
  • Phenol

All peels do relatively the same thing, they just use different ingredients. The chemical peel solution is applied to the skin and left on for a predetermined amount of time. The solution penetrates into various layers, lifting the dead skin cell off to shed the top layers of epidermis. While this may sound scary, mild peels are usually pain-free.

Areas Treated

The face and neck are the areas typically treated with chemical peels.

Results and Aftercare

Immediately after the peel the skin is likely to redden and become sensitive. Peeling of the skin can continue anywhere from a few days to four weeks depending on the strength of the solution. The desired result of chemical peels is tighter, more evenly toned skin that has fewer lines and blemishes. In addition to removing the damaged top layer of skin a peel can also stimulate skin cell growth and collagen production.

Chemical peels typically range from mild to deep, which is indicated by the percentage of the acid. It’s common to see peels that range from 10-70%. If you are new to peels be on the safe side and opt for a peel in the 10-20% range.


The amount of maintenance depends on the results you want to achieve and the concentration of the peels. You can have mild peels done once every few weeks while some deep peels will produce results that last for years after just one treatment.

Many times an aesthetician will pair a microdermabrasion and a mild peel together as a two-step treatment depending on the results a patient is looking for. However, these treatments aren’t for everyone and people with certain skin and health conditions are not ideal candidates. That is why it’s important to speak with a qualified medical professional before undergoing peel or microdermabrasion treatments.

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