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You probably already know that regular exfoliation is key to ensuring your skin is soft, smooth, radiant, and even. There are plenty of different exfoliating products out there, though microdermabrasion scrubs offer some of the most hardcore exfoliations you can get without leaving your home. In-office microdermabrasion treatments typically rely on a handheld device that has a gritty tip, which basically blasts off dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. At-home microderm scrubs offer similar types of benefits. “The particles in microdermabrasion are tiny, or micro, as it were, and can penetrate the skin easier than larger molecules. They break down dead skin to help other skincare products work more effectively and reveal a new, fresh layer of skin,” explains Dr. Alan Parks, a board-certified dermatologist in Columbus, Ohio.
Meet the Expert
Dr. Alan Parks is a board-certified dermatologist in Columbus, Ohio. He is the founder of Eastside Dermatology & Skin Care Center, as well as the founder of DermWarehouse.com, and has been practicing dermatology for over 30 years.
FYI, it is a good idea to proceed with caution if you have sensitive skin, and remember that you don’t need to apply a lot of pressure when using these. Let the scrubbing particles do their thing, and simply massage the product gently into the skin for the best effects and minimal irritation.
Meet the Expert
Dr. Sapna Palep is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City.
Check out some of our favorite microdermabrasion scrubs, below.
Best Overall: DERMADoctor Physical Chemistry Facial Microdermabrasion + Multiacid Chemical Peel
Minimizes fine lines
This multi-tasking formula combines two popular in-office procedures in one at-home product: microdermabrasion and a chemical peel. It both mechanically buffs off dead cells and contains glycolic and lactic acids for an added level of exfoliation. It’s so potent that you can even use it to combat keratosis pilaris (AKA chicken skin) on the back of your arms. And while it is a bit pricy, one jar contains up to 40 uses.
Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid, lactic acid, azelaic acid, botanical extracts | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Budget: Beauty Pie Wonderscrub Bio-Dermabrasion Face Polish
Offers chemical and physical exfoliation
On the whole, microdermabrasion scrubs tend to be more expensive, making this more wallet-friendly option a nice alternative for microderm newbies or those on a budget. It relies on volcanic lava spheres for scrubbing purposes and pairs those with pineapple enzymes to further up the exfoliating ante. The addition of moisturizing shea butter (great for combating any dryness that can occur if you accidentally over-exfoliate) is a nice touch.
Active Ingredients: Perlite, pineapple extract, shea butter | Size: 2.2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Fine Lines: Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion Age-Defying Exfoliator
Minimizes fine lines
May irritate sensitive skin
An oldie but goodie, this features seamlessly round crystals to effectively polish the skin without the risk of scratching or tearing that can come with irregularly shaped particles. It contains lactic acid for an extra boost of chemical exfoliation; lactic acid is also a humectant that attracts water to the skin, helping plump it up to minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
Active Ingredients: Professional-grade aluminum oxide crystals, lactic acid, jojoba oil, aloe vera, chamomile | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Sensitive Skin: Alchimie Forever Gentle Refining Scrub
Can be hard to remove
To be fair, this skews more on the side of a traditional scrub rather than a microdermabrasion version, per se, but that’s what makes it the right pick for anyone with sensitive skin. Cranberry and jojoba beads gently remove dead skin cells, as do the included papaya enzymes in the formula. The ingredient list is also super short, always a boon for those with easily irritated skin.
Active Ingredients: Cranberry beads, jojoba beads, papaya enzymes, lychee extract, rosemary, shea butter | Size: 3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Oily Skin: Bliss Micro Magic
May irritate sensitive skin
Volcanic pumice does the sloughing in this formula, which is an especially choice pick for those with oily skin. Credit the addition of ingredients such as kaolin clay; it works like a magnet to pull out excess oil, gunk, and other pore-clogging grime lodged deep in the skin. But it contains plenty of soothing ingredients, too, think jojoba oil and aloe, while peppermint oil makes it feel pleasantly refreshing.
Active Ingredients: Volcanic pumice, kaolin clay, pro-vitamin B5, jojoba seed oil, soybean oil, aloe leaf juice, peppermint oil, chamomile extract, lavender extract | Size: 3.4 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Mature Skin: Neova Smart Skincare Serious Reveal Exfoliator
Glycolic acid and vitamin C—both ingredients are known to help stimulate collagen production, AKA helping smooth fine lines and wrinkles—make this gel-based scrub a good choice for more mature skin types. It’s a favorite of Parks, who says that it smooths and refines the skin, yet, unlike many other scrubs, is a good choice even for those with more sensitive skin.
Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Microdermabrasion Blackhead Eliminator
Offers chemical and physical exfoliation
May irritate sensitive or dry skin
Even the most stubborn of blackheads, whiteheads, and clogged pores don’t stand a chance against this intense exfoliator. It’s a triple-action treatment that relies on exfoliating crystals (that’s the microdermabrasion part), a 2 percent concentration of pore-clearing salicylic acid, and exfoliating enzymes, too. It works in just a few months, and we swear we see noticeable results after every use.
Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid, exfoliating crystals | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Customizable: StriVectin Pro Glowfoliant Mix-In Microderm Crystals
Easy to use
Reviewers note it's hard to rinse off
Thanks to this super unique product, you can turn any of your favorite cleansers into a pseudo-DIY microdermabrasion scrub in seconds. “It’s a one-of-a-kind product as it can be mixed in with any cleanser to add in the element of microdermabrasion without stripping or tearing the skin,” says Parks of another one of his favorites. Also nice: You can even customize exactly how much exfoliation you want based on the number of crystals you add.
Active Ingredients: Alumina, diamond powder | Size: 1.2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Dull Skin: Obagi Professional-C Microdermabrasion Polish & Mask
Works as a scrub and a mask
“Not only does this utilize a microdermabrasion polish to smooth and soften the skin, but it also contains vitamin C to help brighten overall tone,” explains Parks, who is a fan of this dual-purpose product. Apply it onto the skin as you would a scrub, gently massaging it in, and then let it sit like you would a mask for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing.
Active Ingredients: Ascorbic acid, silica | Size: 2.8 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No| Byrdie Clean: No
Best Two-Step: HydroPeptide Polish and Plump Peel Set
Feels like a spa-treatment
For those who want to recreate a pro-style facial at home, this two-step system is worth checking out. Parks recommends it: “It gently resurfaces skin with micro Vitamin C crystals and reveals a more plump and youthful complexion.” It also contains lactic acid, as well as antioxidant-rich green tea. (FYI, you’re meant to layer one step after the other without rinsing in between.)
Active Ingredients: Sodium bicarbonate, zeolite, lactic acid | Size: 2 x 1 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Daily Use: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant Exfoliator
Great for travel
As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t be using a microdermabrasion scrub daily; they’re simply too intense. But this alternative is the exception to that rule. It’s a rice-based powder that you just have to add a little water to transform into a cleanser-meets-exfoliator that you can use every day. It has chemically exfoliating papaya enzymes and salicylic acid, too, as well as colloidal oatmeal to help soothe the skin.
Active Ingredients: Rice bran extract, salicylic acid, colloidal oatmeal | Size: 2.6 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Pro-Strength: Clinicians Complex Microdermabrasion Cream
Minimizes fine lines
“This is a medical-grade formula that shows significant results when it comes to renewing and brightening skin,” says Parks. “It’s great for smoothing not only fine lines and wrinkles but also fighting acne,” he adds.
Active Ingredients: Aluminum oxide | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Microdermabrasion scrubs are a good choice for those who want to take their exfoliation game to the next level. Earning the top spot on our list is the DERMADoctor Physical Chemistry Facial Microdermabrasion + Multiacid Chemical Peel, which combines chemical and physical exfoliation and can be used on either face or body. If you have breakouts or blackheads, the Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Microdermabrasion Blackhead Eliminator is a great way to help clear your complexion (and works super quickly). You can also try the StriVectin Pro Glowfoliant Mix-In Microderm Crystals, which can be mixed into any cleanser of your choosing. And finally, the Beauty Pie Wonderscrub Bio-Dermabrasion Face Polish is a nice, budget-friendly alternative to many of the more expensive options out there.
What to Look For in a Microdermabrasion Scrub
When it comes to choosing the right scrub for you, Palep suggests looking out for formulas that also include chemical exfoliants—like salicylic, lactic, or glycolic acids—as they are typically gentler. However, as these acids accompany a physically exfoliating particle, it’s important not to overdo it at the risk of upsetting your skin.
The Right Grit for Your Skin
Today’s lineup of microdermabrasion scrubs is as diverse as any other skincare product, be it cleansers, serums, or moisturizers, meaning you should choose one that’s better suited to your skin’s individual needs. One such element to consider is the grit itself, the hardness of which can vary. For example, while fine pumice is ideal for tougher, oilier skin, those with sensitive skin should opt for something gentler, like jojoba beads or rice microspheres.
Since microdermabrasion scrubs essentially take something away from the skin, it’s also important to replenish the skin afterward. To help strengthen the skin barrier, Palep also recommends formulas with anti-aging ingredients like ceramides, peptides, and hyaluronic acid.
What does a microdermabrasion scrub do?
Microdermabrasion scrubs buff away the most superficial layer of skin to reveal a layer of fresh, smooth skin underneath. This is achieved with fine scrubbing particles as well as a selection of chemical exfoliants such as glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acids.
Is a microdermabrasion scrub good for acne?
Although some dermatologists advise against using physical exfoliants on acne breakouts, there are a number of specially-formulated microdermabrasion scrubs for acne-prone skin that contain non-irritating particles and skin-soothing ingredients for gentle yet effective treatment.
How often should you use a microdermabrasion scrub?
Since microdermabrasion scrubs provide a deeper level of exfoliation than a typical cleanser or exfoliating scrub, they should only be used periodically, typically no more than once a week. Always consult the instructions for each product and avoid overdoing it at the risk of damaging your skin. And when in any doubt, call your dermatologist.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. While chemical exfoliation is her preferred method, she does like to use microdermabrasion scrubs on her breakout-prone forehead. The Peter Thomas Roth product on this list is her current go-to.
Keratosis pilaris - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic.
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A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of a 2% salicylic acid cleanser for improvement of acne vulgaris. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2013;68(4):AB12.
Al-Niaimi F, Chiang NYZ. Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017;10(7):14-17.
Reynertson KA, Garay M, Nebus J, et al. Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015;14(1):43-48.