FeaturesIn the Know

What Is Microdermabrasion? What to Know About the Popular Cosmetic Procedure

Chances are you’ve heard of the term microdermabrasion in recent years due to its rise in popularity. In fact, it’s one of the most common nonsurgical cosmetic procedures in the U.S. due to being a less abrasive alternative to other treatments. Oh, and did we mention it’s also a celebrity favorite?

Microdermabrasion uses fine crystals and a vacuum to remove the top layer of skin. While that may sound daunting, the procedure is highly effective in helping to achieve a healthy glow and youthful complexion.

To find out more about what microdermabrasion is and its benefits, keep reading.

In this article:

What Is Microdermabrasion?

A man getting microdermabrasion.

Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure that is designed to remove those pesky dead skin cells. A handheld device is used to gently buffer the skin, with tiny crystals or a diamond tip working to remove the topmost layer like sandpaper. (But don’t worry, it’s not as intense as it sounds.) After this, a vacuum sucks up the exfoliated skin cells.

As well as removing dead skin cells, the treatment can help with dullness, mild to moderate acne and hyperpigmentation.

The aim of the procedure is to help make the skin smoother. It works by reducing fine lines, minor scars and wrinkles, as well as age spots. The result? It can help to achieve smoother and younger-looking skin.

Microdermabrasion Benefits

A woman smiling and looking at her skin in a mirror.
  • Improves hyperpigmentation – Microdermabrasion has been found to improve hyperpigmentation, sometimes known as melasma, and other skin spots and patches. It works by removing the outermost layer, which, in turn, softens the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
  • Tackles wrinkles – The treatment helps with collagen stimulation, which can increase skin renewal. This helps to improve the skin’s surface, smoothing and reducing the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Exfoliates the skin – If crystal or diamond microdermabrasion is being used (more on these treatments below), this buffs the skin to remove dead and dry skin cells, leaving the skin feeling exfoliated and rejuvenated.
  • Improves mild acne – It can also be an effective treatment for mild acne. The exfoliation can minimize the appearance of blackheads and whiteheads to create a smoother surface. If the acne has caused some shallow scarring, microdermabrasion can work to reduce it. 
  • Shrinks enlarged pores – The treatment can sometimes be recommended by dermatologists as an effective way to improve your skin’s conditioning and make pores less visible.

What Are the Different Types of Microdermabrasion?

There are two main types of microdermabrasion: diamond-tip and crystal. They both offer similar benefits, but vary slightly in their process and equipment. Read the below to find out the differences and which one might be best for you.

Diamond-tip microdermabrasion

A woman getting microdermabrasion.

Diamond-tip microdermabrasion uses a rough tip — either reusable or disposable — that is rolled over the face to gently resurface the skin. The tip can have different levels of grit (similar to sandpaper) and can sometimes be paired with a light facial. Suction will remove the dead skin and dirt from your face at the same time.


  • Diamonds are the hardest mineral and are very effective for abrasion.
  • No risk of ingestion, allowing treatment closer to eyes and mouth.


  • The large, fixed shape of the tip can’t reach every part of the face.
  • Skin cells can build up on the wand, potentially spreading bacteria to other parts of the face.

Crystal microdermabrasion

Woman getting microdermabrasion.

Crystal microdermabrasion has been around the longest and uses super-fine crystal particles to produce a deeper exfoliation and peel than the diamond tip. 

The special hand-held device, which propels a flow of aluminum-oxide crystals to the skin, uses a combination of gentle abrasion along with suction to remove the dead skin and dirt. The treatment is sometimes paired with a soothing mask, as it can be more intense than the diamond tip.


  • Possibly the best type of microdermabrasion for acne, since the crystals have antibacterial properties.
  • The loose crystals can reach places a diamond-tip microdermabrasion wand can’t.


  • Spray can be hard to control.
  • Crystals can irritate eyes and be inhaled.
  • Some say it feels like being “sandblasted.”
  • May leave some swelling and redness (which generally fades within one day).

What Happens During Microdermabrasion?

It’s important to get clued-up on any procedure before you commit. Let’s go through each step so you can be best prepared, from preparation to microdermabrasion after care.

What should I expect from my first microdermabrasion?

A woman talking to a doctor.

Firstly, you should decide what microdermabrasion method to go for: diamond-tip or crystal. The latter is said to be more abrasive, but neither are painful. In fact, the gritty feeling has been likened to the feeling of a cat’s lick.

It shouldn’t be uncomfortable either. The only discomfort would come from your technician being too heavy handed (be sure to let them know if this is the case).

Your technician will prep your skin by cleansing the skin and the whole thing should be over in around 30 minutes. If you’re having it as part of a complete facial, you’ll also have a mask and facial massage.

How to prep for a microdermabrasion

A woman getting a facial treatment at the spa.

Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive treatment and requires little preparation — but there are some steps that should be taken to see the best microdermabrasion benefits.

  • Product-free skin – The area being treated should be free of make-up and skin care products like creams and serums. If you are already wearing them, they will be removed by the technician.
  • Don’t wax or shave – This should be avoided around a week before your procedure. This will reduce the risk of your pores becoming infected and will reduce irritation. 
  • Reduce smoking – If you smoke, it’s recommended that you try to stop smoking one week prior to the treatment to help improve blood flow to the area having treatment. 
  • Avoid sunburn – Prolonged sun exposure can damage the skin, so it’s best to avoid this up to a week before your treatment. Of course, the sun can cause some pretty unpleasant damage to our skin in general, so be careful out there and always apply SPF for healthy skin.

During the Process

A woman looking relaxed while getting a facial treatment done at a spa.
  1. Your face will be cleansed and cleaned, whether you’re wearing any make-up or not.
  2. The wand will be applied to your face slowly removing dirt and dead skin.
  3. The treatment will last around 30 minutes (or one hour if you’re having other treatments).
  4. There are no side effects, but more intense microdermabrasion can leave the skin looking a little red and tender for a few hours following the procedure.
  5. You can resume normal activities and skincare routine after the procedure.

What to expect after microdermabrasion

A woman smiling and looking at the camera while enjoying the sunshine outside.

The fresh layer of skin will be delicate and exposed, so it’s important to wear sunscreen and avoid direct sunlight and tanning booths after your treatment. You should also avoid any products that can irritate the area, such as perfumes, until it is fully healed. The technician performing the treatment will explain how to take care of your skin at home.

How long does microdermabrasion take?

Each session lasts between 15-30 minutes. You can have multiple sessions of microdermabrasion depending on what your goal is. If it’s to achieve fresh, glowing skin, one session can achieve this. If it’s to reduce minor acne scars or wrinkles, you will need a series of treatments. Usually six to 10 treatments, planned seven to 14 days apart.

How Much Does Microdermabrasion Cost – and Other Things You Need to Know

Before you get started, we’re going to break down some other key things you should know before booking your first appointment.

How much does a microdermabrasion facial cost?

The average cost per session is $100, but it does vary depending on the location and the person performing the procedure. Some sessions can cost up to $250 each. 

If you’re interested in the treatment but weary of the cost, consider checking out our deals on microdermabrasion, which can save you up to 90%.

Does microdermabrasion hurt?

Microdermabrasion shouldn’t hurt. It may feel rough on the skin, but shouldn’t cause pain. If you do feel some mild discomfort, it could be due to the technician being too rough. You should ask them to be gentle if it hurts.

How often should you get microdermabrasion?

Each session should be planned seven to 14 days apart to give the skin time to heal and repair.

Does microdermabrasion remove hair?

Microdermabrasion has no effect on reducing facial hair. Dermablading is recommended for hair removal.

Dermaplaning vs. Microdermabrasion – What’s the Difference?

What is the difference between microdermabrasion and dermaplaning?

Dermaplaning uses a single blade to gently remove dead skin and peach fuzz (fair hair on your face). It leaves your skin fresh, smooth and glowing.

How different are the two techniques?

Dermaplaning and microdermabrasion are very different. One uses a gritty texture to buff the skin, while the other uses a blade to shave the area.

Do they have different purposes?

They can both achieve similar results including softer skin and a reduction in wrinkles and fine lines. But dermaplaning is the only treatment to remove hair.

Are the benefits of each technique different?

They both offer great benefits. If you aren’t fussed about hair removal, microdermabrasion could be the best option. But dermaplaning does have some great benefits.

Top Microdermabrasion Tips

  • Use a cold compress If the skin is still feeling tender and sensitive (similar to sunburn), add a cold compress to relieve any discomfort.
  • Don’t scratch or pick the skin If it feels itchy, use a clean hand to press into the area rather than using your fingernails. 
  • Drink plenty of fluids– Water is amazing for your skin and helps it to heal.


Is microdermabrasion good for acne?

Microdermabrasion can be effective for people with minor acne scars. For the best results it’s best used with gentle peels and medical acne treatments.

Does microdermabrasion remove blackheads?

While microdermabrasion can help with blackheads, there are more effective treatments to remove them entirely, such as chemical peels and a good skin care routine.

What is the difference between a chemical peel and microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion and chemical peels both can improve skin tone, texture and clarity. Microdermabrasion removes the top layer and is minimally invasive. Chemical peels work deeper, revealing new skin beneath the layers.

Is microdermabrasion safe for pregnancy?

Microdermabrasion should be avoided during pregnancy as it can lead to irritation (skin is more sensitive during these nine months). You should speak to the medical professional taking care of your pregnancy for advice before booking any treatments.

Interested in trying microdermabrasion? Find great options and offers near you with Groupon.

Phone showing the Groupon App

Give this story an even
app-ier ending!


Related Reads