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Although it sounds intimidating, microdermabrasion is actually a pretty common skin procedure that’s a step up from a typical exfoliating scrub treatment. To better understand the difference, think of the latter as a rake that pulls away the most prevalent dead skin cells and debris from skin, and the former as a fine broom that goes a bit deeper and does a more thorough job, thanks to finer particles that gently buff away the outermost layers of skin.
Microdermabrasion can also tend to have more drastic long-term effects. “It can improve the appearance of sun damage, wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, and more,” says Dr. Sapna Palep, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City.
As effective as they are, microdermabrasion treatments can also be pricey. These days, however, you can get similar benefits right in the comfort of your own home thanks to microdermabrasion scrubs. In addition to exfoliating the skin, these scrubs may lead to increased absorption and penetration of skincare products, which can help make them more effective.
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 are 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.
Don’t worry about wading through every microdermabrasion product on the market. We’ve got the 12 best ones right here.
Best Overall: DERMADoctor Physical Chemistry Facial Microdermabrasion + Multiacid Chemical Peel
This mighty formula combines a chemical peel with microdermabrasion. Packed with power, this treatment can help improve the appearance of fine lines, discoloration, enlarged pores, and even keratosis pilaris (aka chicken skin). It’s equal parts exfoliating and energizing to bring your inner glow back out.
Best for Fine Lines: Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion Age-Defying Exfoliator
Treat your skin to professional-grade (and perfectly round) crystals that exfoliate to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. A combination of chamomile, aloe vera, and jojoba oil extracts also brings a burst of soothing refreshment.
Best Drugstore: Jouviance Hydractiv Exfoliant Gentle Purifying Scrub
Soften fine lines with all-natural bamboo microbeads and olive seeds. This dual-action scrub exfoliates to eliminate buildup, clean out pores, and may help to encourage cell regeneration. Fine exfoliating particles plus using very gentle pressure equals an ideal exfoliation, according to Dr. Hadley King, a New York-based dermatologist.
Best for Dull Skin: Alchimie Forever Gentle Refining Scrub
Formulated with jojoba beads and papaya enzymes, this gentle scrub removes dead, dull skin cells to reveal fresh, rejuvenated skin underneath. Plus, it’s loaded with brightening lychee extract, soothing rosemary, and hydrating shea butter.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Schaf Facial Scrub
Bamboo beads and white lava particles work together to lightly polish away dirt, oil, debris, and makeup. Thanks to African shea butter and hyaluronic acid, your skin isn’t stripped, but instead is effectively moisturized.
Best for Dry Skin: U.SK Under Skin Perfect Rice Scrub
Rice microspheres are the gentle exfoliator in this calming formula. They help to aid in proper exfoliation without scratching your skin. Bonus: Parched skin will instantly soak up all the moisturizing ingredients, which include olive leaf extract, colloidal oatmeal, and Fucogel.
Best for Oily Skin: Bliss Micro Magic
The star of this formula is fine volcanic pumice, another gentle, yet powerful micro-exfoliator. It’s great at unclogging congested pores, flushing out oil and debris, and ridding your skin of buildup and makeup muck.
Best for Rough Skin: Kiehl's Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion
Dealing with rough or bumpy skin? This treatment utilizes diatomaceous earth, a micronized natural exfoliant, to help retexturize the skin’s outermost layer. It also has antimicrobial properties due to the willow herb, so it may be helpful for acne-prone skin.
Best for Mature Skin: Neova Smart Skincare Serious Reveal Exfoliator
This treatment targets concerns like loss of firmness and elasticity. Because it features a chemical exfoliant—glycolic acid—it’s much gentler, says Palep. One reviewer notes that her skin looked significantly brighter after use, which is all thanks to the vitamin C in the formula.
Best for Dark Spots: Skinfix Resurface+ Glycolic Renewing Scrub
Smooth, brighten and lift your skin with this glycolic and lactic acid scrub. Lactic acid (6%) works to help reduce visible dark spots while 7% glycolic acid buffs out dead skin cells. Reviewers love that while it does effectively exfoliate, their skin doesn’t feel tight or taut afterward.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Revision Skincare Finishing Touch
While users like how smooth their skin feels after using this treatment, they love how hydrated and soft their faces feel as well. Polynesian volcanic black sand and ultra-fine pumice thoroughly cleanse the skin, while freshwater silt and shea butter leave it with that moisturized feeling.
Best for Combination Skin: SKINNEY Medspa Microdermabrasion in a Bottle
Here’s a great lineup if we’ve ever seen one: exfoliating bamboo beads, softening pumpkin extract, and hydrating jojoba seed oil. Because of its coarse texture, its deep exfoliation gets rid of pesky dead cells with no scrapes or scratches in sight. Plus, the formula heats up as it works for deeper product penetration.
What does a microdermabrasion scrub do?
Microdermabrasion scrubs buff away the most superficial layer of skin in order 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 which contain non-irritating particles and skin-soothing ingredients for a 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.
Microdermabrasion products can be powerful, so be careful not to overdo it. When in doubt, consult your dermatologist.