For many shoppers, the term microdermabrasion might conjure images of sterile dermatology offices, high-tech machinery and rose-hued, irritated faces. But microdermabrasion is actually a simple, healthy process, say many aestheticians. So what about the microdermabrasion products in your personal care section? Do they compare with an in-office procedure?
"Microdermabrasion is just a strong form of exfoliation," says Camille Capone, an esthetician at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy in Boulder, Colo. "What it does is precipitate cellular turnover, which is especially important as we age because that process tends to take longer than it does when we're young. It gives skin a fresh look because it brushes off old, dead cells and stimulates the collagen and elastin in the new cells of the basal layer." Studies show that microdermabrasion treatments can reduce fine lines, dullness, pigmentation and large pores.
Capone says the do-it-yourself microdermabrasion kits touted by both conventional and natural skin care companies aren't nearly as strong as an in-office treatment because dermatologists use stronger exfoliation materials, such as diamond-tipped tools, aluminum crystals and ultrasound. Over-the-counter products contain softer materials, such as lava rock or magnesium oxide, which aren't quite as effective, but can still leave skin feeling smooth and fresh. Capone recommends microdermabrasion for those with normal to aging skin or rosacea, but not for those with acne pustules because it can spread bacteria. She also suggests pairing up the products with a soothing recovery serum. "After exfoliation, skin is primed for soaking up nutrients, so it's always good to follow up microdermabrasion with a vitamin- and mineral-enriched serum," she says.
A study in the August issue of The Journal of Dermatological Treatment showed marked skin improvements in microdermabrasion patients who used an antioxidant serum immediately after the treatment versus patients who didn't.
For the beauty-conscious shoppers perusing your aisles, here is the lowdown on a few natural do-it-yourself options.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIX/number 12/p. 27