Traditionally, microdermabrasion is performed in clinics. There are two main types to choose from: Crystal microdermabrasion uses a device that sprays crystal particles over the patient's face, that essentially "sandblasts" the complexion, loosening the top layer of dead skin cells. Alternatively, a diamond-tipped exfoliating wand is buffed over the surface of the skin, a little like a sander on a wall, and with no wayward particles, it's less messy. Either way, the goal is to remove the most superficial layer of skin, revealing a fresh layer of smooth, even skin.
"In reality, microdermabrasion can use any finely-sized physical particle to remove the tissue," explains dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian. Nowadays you can perform microdermabrasion at home either using gentle, but seriously grainy exfoliators (a little like the crystal treatment) or handy gadgets that smooth the skin's surface (similar to the diamond option). Instantly you'll notice your skin will look brighter and fresher. The intense exfoliation makes way for your topical skincare products to sink in more efficiently and, over time, you'll notice more profound results like a more even skin tone or fewer stubborn spots. Check out the best at-home microdermabrasion kits and tools ahead.
Meet the Expert
- Dr. Rachel Nazarian, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology who specializes in general dermatology, cosmetic dermatology, skin cancer, and dermatological surgery.
- Dr. Mariana Vergara, NP-C, is a cosmetic dermatologist with over 10 years of experience in aesthetic medicine and is the owner and founder of Beauty Villa Vergara.
PMD Personal Microderm International
"Some of my favorite products include the PMD device," offers Nazarian. "It’s easy to handle and use, and also uses discs rather than crystal, so it’s less messy, and has more options for various skin types." This device stimulates collagen and elastin production, thanks to a vacuum that boosts circulation. The spinning disc attachments (green for normal skin, blue for sensitive, and grey for very sensitive) with aluminum oxide crystals smooth the surface of the skin to minimize the appearance of fine lines, blemishes, and enlarged pores. Plus you get to see all the dead skin collected in the cap—gross, yes, but satisfying.
Be sure to start out on the lowest, most gentle setting with your microdermabrasion device and avoid using on active acne or rosacea. When done incorrectly, you could bruise, scratch, or irritate your skin, or even damage the capillaries. Aggressive settings can break small blood vessels and tear delicate facial tissue.
KORA Organics Turmeric BHA Brightening Treatment Mask
To gently scrub away dead skin cells, Vergara recommends this resurfacing mask over home devices as some tools can be too aggressive for sensitive skin or if misused. "It's an amazing mask treatment that can be done once a week for 15 min or daily as a face scrub," she says. "It exfoliates and resurfaces the skin, it targets congested pores, uneven skin tone, texture, and dullness." The mask also contains natural BHA to aid in exfoliation and anti-inflammatory turmeric to soothe redness in sensitive skin.
Microderm Glo Mini Diamond Microdermabrasion and Suction Tool
This machine does more than just blast dullness into oblivion. It comes with two blackhead removal suction tips to keep your pores clear between microderming treatments and has two strength settings. According to Nazarian, most skin types can handle microdermabrasion or another physical exfoliation device once a week, "It’s important to remember not to be too aggressive with either pressure or vacuum when using these devices," she warns. "Your skin is an incredibly delicate organ and prone to inflammation if handled too aggressively."
No7 Total Renewal Micro-Dermabrasion Exfoliator
"Look for devices and products that have the finest grade exfoliating features," says Nazarian. "It should feel almost smooth with only a minor amount of texture. Anything that feels too rough or bumpy is typically too aggressive for skin." Containing aluminum-oxide micro-crystals, this grainy face exfoliator is gentle while stimulating skin cell renewal in just four uses. This means that beyond the brightening benefits of exfoliation, this scrub kick-starts skin to act younger, helping to soften fine lines. Smart and affordable.
Trophy Skin MicrodermMD Home Microdermabrasion System
An LCD screen to guide you through your treatment makes this kit ideal for beginners. On auto mode, a built-in timer will automatically set for each section of the face as you glide the diamond tip suction wand along, with the intensity level chosen for you. For the more seasoned microderm user, there's a manual mode where you can choose the intensity you're comfortable with. The kit also includes exchangeable tips for pore extraction and serum infusing.
Trophy Skin RejuvadermMD Microdermabrasion On-The-Go
For a more portable alternative, Trophy Skin created the On-The-Go version of their home microdermabrasion system. The mobile version has a rechargeable battery and can do nearly everything the full machine can, aside from the LCD screen with the follow-along steps. Like the Home System, this one comes with the diamond, infusion, and extraction tips. The same benefits, only you can toss this device in your suitcase with ease.
Kiehl's Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion
A polishing cream, this effectively sloughs away dead skin but won't leave it dry or sensitive thanks to the addition of shea butter. Great for dry skin types. When used three times a week, the polish also helps the skin absorb other products more efficiently.
The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Boosting Microdermabrasion
Crushed garnet stones are packed into this refreshing scrub, along with complexion-brightening vitamin C. Buff away dead skin cells to reveal new fresh and smooth skin underneath. It works so well that of the reviews on the website, 96% of users would recommend this to a friend.
DermaTx Clarify Microdermabrasion System
Battery-operated, this handheld tool uses micro-pulsing vibrations paired with an exfoliating foam head to dislodge dead skin. Use with Clarify Microdermabrasion Cream one to two times a week. The kit also comes with a daily cleansing brush and the Clarify Salicylic Acid Cleanser to aid in the exfoliation and tackle acne-induced inflammation, making the system a good choice if you're prone to breakouts.
"When using vibrating brushes it is important to clean the brushes after each use and to change them often," Vergara advises. "These brushes can accumulate bacteria over time."
Homedics Radiance Microdermabrasion
Vergara says she prefers diamond tip tools over crystal machines because they're gentler. "Crystal can be aggressive, cause irritation on the skin, and is not great for patients with sensitive skin, rosacea or hyperpigmentation." Combining a "salon-grade" diamond tip with a vacuum, this handheld device has four speed settings. Four intensity levels make the device easy and comfortable to use for a variety of skin types. It takes five minutes to cover your whole face, and it promises to reduce the appearance of lines, blackheads, and scarring in three weeks.
Michael Todd Sonic Refresher
At the derm's office, Vergara recommends wet microdermabrasion, which also sucks the gunk right out of your pores. "I like the wet microdermabrasion because at the same time that the device is exfoliating the skin it is also infusing different types of serums," she explains. "It is more gentle and tolerable for the skin." For home treatments, options are limited. But as the only wet/dry microderm tool for consumers, the Sonic Refresher comes pretty close with a soothing micromist, diamond microderm tip, and pore extraction.
SkinCeuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub
Hydrated silica exfoliates while aloe and glycerin keep the skin hydrated and soothed. The decongesting polish gently draws up impurities, dead skin cells, and excess oil, leaving the face feeling refreshed and smooth. To up the exfoliating action, use the scrub with a cleansing brush or a washcloth. Remember not to scrub too hard!
StackedSkincare TCA Lactic & Glycolic Face Peel
Although Nazarian fully supports some microdermabrasion action, she still recommends chemical exfoliants more. "With physical exfoliation including microdermabrasion, there’s just too much room to really damage tissue," she explains. "Chemical exfoliants can be more precise, where you use a certain concentration of ingredient and are guaranteed more predictable results." The derms agree that exfoliating acids like BHA and AHA are where it's at. This multi-acid face peel combines the powers of trichloroacetic acid (TCA), lactic acid, glycolic acid, phytic acid, and salicylic acid to resurface and renew the skin.
Phytic acid is a gentle alpha hydroxy acid. It is typically derived from grains, legumes and rice. It can help to neutralize free radical damage in the skin, clear out and shrink pores, and brighten pigmentation.