We’re becoming a nation that’s skin obsessed and as we should! Our skin is the biggest organ in our body and it’s vital that we preserve and protect it from damage. So many of us are swapping the plastic surgeons for facials. Due to an increased demand for instant result skincare, more and more new treatments are becoming available.
But many of these treatments don’t have scientific backing and aren’t well-researched. These treatments are causing damage and a host of serious issues, including scarring and pigmentation.
Common Skin Complaints That People Require Treatment For
There are a lot of treatments out there which claim to repair damaged skin.
Here are some of the most common skin treatments that people are searching for:
- Skin pigmentation treatment
Skin pigmentation occurs when patches of your skin have uneven tones when compared to the rest of your body. An overproduction of melanin is the main culprit of skin pigmentation, but there are many other reasons why it can occur.
- Skin lightening treatment
Skin lightening or bleaching is a cosmetic treatment to reduce the prominence of skin discolouration. It targets skin pigmentation and evens out colouring.
- Hyperpigmentation treatment for Black skin
Hyperpigmentation occurs more commonly in darker skin tones because of the presence of increased melanin in these skin types. When it comes to providing harsh facial treatments on deeper toned patients there’s always a risk of blanching. This results from so much damage being caused to the skin’s melanocytes that they become inactive. This causes stark white patches on the skin.
- Clear skin treatment
There are hundreds of treatments out there which claim to give you clear skin by unclogging pores and removing dead cells. However, many of these treatments can be incredibly damaging.
- Dull skin treatment
Dull skin is skin that looks lacklustre, and pale. It’s often caused by a build up of dead skin. Exfoliation can fix this, however, most exfoliating treatments out there go too deep and cause long-term damage.
- Sun damaged skin treatment
Excessive sun exposure is the leading cause of sun damage. Sun damaged skin ages much more rapidly and leads to skin wrinkling, thinning and sagging. In extreme cases, sun damage can lead to skin cancer.
However, the sad irony is that a lot of these new treatments are actually causing the problems that people are searching to repair.
5 Treatments That You Need To Avoid
What is Microdermabrasion?
This facial treatment uses a microdermabrasion tool to buff away the top layer of your skin.
Microdermabrasion is an exfoliator designed to remove dead skin cells. It removes build-up by blasting fine crystals onto the skin to unclog pores.
Reported microdermabrasion facial benefits include younger looking, and smoother skin. It’s also said to be a great anti-aging treatment and supposedly reduces the appearance of fine lines, minor scars, wrinkles and age spots.
So how much does microdermabrasion cost? Microdermabrasion prices are around the £60 mark for one treatment in the UK.
How Microdermabrasion Damages Your Skin
While the benefits of microdermabrasion include some improvement in skin collagen content², the damage microdermabrasion causes is not worth it. The treatment gives temporary results, that have long lasting damaging and aging effects.
As the microdermabrasion machine strips the skin’s protective barrier, the skin is left vulnerable to bacterial infections.
The treatment also has a minimal effect on the skin underneath, meaning the perceived benefits are largely superficial. Therefore the facial doesn’t work to actively target or treat underlying conditions. This includes the visible signs of aging. In fact, all of the above effects actuallt contribute to a gradual increase in the skin’s aging process.
The Dangers of Microdermabrasion on Darker Skin Tones
When used on darker skin tones, microdermabrasion can have seriously negative and often irreversible consequences. Microdermabrasion kits can cause skin pigmentation. Those with deeper skin tones may experience uneven darkening or lightening on certain areas of the skin³.
Whenever something causes inflammation on deeper skin tones there’s always a risk of pigmentation issues. This is because deeper skin tones have more active melanocytes. In severe cases when inflammation causes permanent damage to melanocytes they will lose function. Skin blanching will occur caused by a disruption of melanosomes in the epidermis.
– Dermoi’s Chief Scientific Officer Eve Casha
Here’s a serious example of damaging microdermabrasion results. This is microdermabrasion work gone wrong!
What Is a HydraFacial?
The HydraFacial is a patented skin treatment. It’s a crystal-free version of microdermabrasion. However, rather than blasting the skin with fine crystals, the HydraFacial machine uses a vacuum to unclog pores. This is called vortex technology and it is designed for deep cleansing.
HydraFacial benefits reportedly include a reduction of enlarged pores, wrinkles, and breakouts.
The HydraFacial treatments includes 4 separate facials rolled into one:
- Step 1: Cleansing and Exfoliation
This first step involves using a vortex cleansing and hydra peel tip. The HydraFacial wand cleanses and exfoliates the skin.
- Step 2: Chemical Peel
A facial peeling solution is applied using the wand tip. This provides chemical exfoliation with the aim of removing oil build-up and pore debris. HydraFacials are generally gentler than standard chemical peels due to their use of salicylic and glycolic acids, neither of which are irritating.
- Step 3: Vacuum Suction Extraction
A vortex vacuum suction extracts blackheads and other impurities from the pores.
- Step 4: Antioxidant Hydrating Serum
Finally an antioxidant and hydrating serum is applied. The serum contains beneficial nutrients which soothe the skin after treatment, as well as detoxify it by eliminating free radicals.
How much does a HydraFacial cost? HydraFacial prices range between £150 and £250 per treatment in the UK.
Dermoi’s Advice on HydraFacials
HydraFacials use a technique called hydradermabrasion. There is some evidence that this results in increased skin rejuvenation, as well as that it’s milder than traditional microdermabrasion. However, hydradermabrasion is still an abrasive method that will compromise the skin barrier.
Hydradermabrasion combines chemical peeling and extraction. The treatment also includes multiple passes over the skin. This means that you’re not doing it just once, you’re passing over the same area way too many times. As a result of the multiple passes, HydraFacial side effects have the potential to leave people red, raw, and sensitive.
Due to the potential irritation caused we would NOT advise you have the treatment if you have sensitive, acne-prone, or rosacea skin types as this may make conditions worse.
For these reasons, HydraFacials are NOT dermoi.
– Dermoi’s Chief Scientific Officer Eve Casha
What Is a Dermaplane Facial?
Dermaplaning is a method of hair removal that involves scraping away the top layers of the skin. A sharp dermaplaning tool removes peach fuzz and facial hair. It’s also becoming an increasingly popular way to shape eyebrows.
Dermaplaning acts as a dead skin remover. One of the main perceived benefits of dermaplaning is that it allows make up to sit more smoothly. This is as a result of the hair removal aspect of the treatment.
The Risks of Dermaplaning
Sales of dermaplaning at-home kits have skyrocketed during the pandemic. They’re cheap, easily accessible and went viral on apps like TikTok. Google searches for “how to dermaplane at home” and “dermaplaning tool uk” soared.
The treatment requires extreme precision. The dermaplaning scalpel must be operated using a 45 degree angle in order to avoid cutting the skin. Unsurprisingly, many people have purchased dermaplaning kits after seeing a viral video without properly researching how to do it. This has led to one dermaplaning horror story after the next, with people cutting and causing severe damage to their skin.
Over the last two years I have treated scarring cases of patients that have seen trained practitioners for dermaplaning but the scalpel has caught on hair and been dragged on the skin, leading to some permanent scarring.
– Dr Jonquille Chantrey told Harpers Bazaar
Even when performed professionally, the treatment comes with serious risks. The repeated scraping of the top layers of the skin causes serious damage to the skin’s barrier.
As well as infection, a damaged skin barrier leaves the skin more susceptible to damaging free radicals. These primarily come from the air and arise from issues such as pollution.
Free radicals are chemicals that have lost an electron. As a result of this, they’re extremely unstable and oxidise with everything that they come into contact with. This leads to skin damage and free radicals are one of the leading causes of premature aging.
The overall amount of scientific data supporting these methods was found to be scarce, anecdotal, and not well documented.
– Landon Pryor, Chad R Gordon, Edward W Swanson, Richard G Reish, Kelly Horton-Beeman & Steven R Cohen
4. Medium + Deep Chemical Peels
What Is a Chemical Peel?
Chemical peels are a group of resurfacing procedures that are growing in popularity.
They use strong acids to break down the top layer or layers of the skin. The acid loosens the bonds that hold the skin cells together. This causes exfoliation as the surface skin cells then drop off. The acids use include salicylic acid, glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, and stronger carbolic acid.
Reported chemical peel benefits include a reduction in age spots, smoother skin, and a more even texture and tone. However, they are not effective in treating broken capillaries or blood vessels.
There are 3 types of chemical peel and these are superficial, medium and deep. Superficial chemical peels are generally safe as they are milder and only target the epidermis.
Medium peels penetrate into the next 2 layers. Deep peels are the strongest type and should only be carried out once or twice in a lifetime.
Deep peels require the the administration of IV fluids, as well as the close monitoring of patient’s heart rates.
Chemical peels cost between £60 and £100 for mild peels in the UK. Deeper peels are more expensive and can be over £500.
Chemical Peel Aftercare
Patients will need time to recover following the procedure due to the acid application.
For medium peels recovery time is usually between 1 and 2 weeks and time off work will need to be organised.
Following the treatment, patients should expect red, swollen and stinging skin. Treated skin can also form a crust, and patches of skin may darken.
After a deep chemical peel, there will be severe redness and swelling, as well as burning. Some patient’s eyelids also swell shut.
A doctor will apply a surgical dressing to the treated skin and deep peels require several follow up visits to the doctor.
The Dangers of Chemical Peels
Treated skin can lose the ability to tan and may become lighter or darker than other areas. Burn spots after chemical peels are also common.
Both medium and deep facial peels leave the skin more open to bacterial, viral and fungal infections. Regular use of medium and deep peels can also thin the skin and cause it to sag.
The deeper down you exfoliate, the more damage you cause. There can be serious long term consequences when you penetrate past your stem cell layer and reach the skin’s collagen supplies. We start to lose collagen from the age of around 25 and once its gone its near impossible to replace. Causing trauma this deep down in the skin can destroy collagen. Collagen is responsible for keeping the skin smooth, tight and youthful. Early collagen breakdown is the leading cause of premature skin aging.
Chemical peels on Black skin and deeper skin tones are also particularly high risk. The risk of post-peel hyperpigmentation/post inflammatory hyperpigmentation increases significantly. Avoid using deep peels when treating Black, Asian, Hispanic and Latino skin tones⁴.
Major complications including significant scarring, dyspigmentation, allergic reactions, and airway obstruction caused by swelling have also been reported. In extreme cases, toxic shock syndrome, cardiotoxicity, and corneal damage have occurred⁵.
5. Deep Microneedling
What is Microneedling?
Microneedling involves the use of fine needles to puncture the skin. It has widespread benefits when used as a transdermal drug delivery system. However, it is becoming more and more popular as a purely cosmetic procedure. Microneedling is also used to treat skin conditions such as acne, scars and stretch marks.
Microneedling always requires a dermatologist or trained medical professional as the equipment needs to be effectively sterilised. Sales of at-home microneedling pens have seen a worrying boost in sales recently.
Microneedling costs upwards of £150 in the UK for a single treatment.
When used to treat skin conditions or as a drug delivery system, the benefits of microneedling can massively outweigh the damage. However, when used on healthy skin as a temporary anti-aging treatment, the long-term effects can be serious.
The Microneedling Process
This facial treatment is also called collagen induction therapy and it takes advantage of the skin’s natural self-repair process.
The microneedle pen punctures the skin which triggers the body to fill the new wounds. The wounds are filled as a result of the trauma as this stimulats the production of new collagen.
Microneedling results temporarily decrease the visible signs of aging by tightening the skin. The treatment relies on your skin having a healthy response. If the skin is stressed it’s left susceptible to serious damage.
The Dangers of Microneedling
Instead of stimulating collagen production, microneedling can also cause mechanical damage to the skin’s collagen supplies. This happens when it’s not performed properly, for example with the use of at-home kits. The needle tears down the collagen fibres which leads to degradation and premature aging.
Microneedling as an anti-aging treatment also requires multiple treatments. The repeated puncturing of the skin desensitises the receptors which are responsible for signalling collagen synthesis. Basically, it will get to a point where it becomes completely redundant.
Infection is a common side effect of deep microneedling and the complications can be serious. Infections aren’t always obvious either.
The skin can lose its ability to heal due to infection. This occurs as a result of our immune system only holding the infection in partial check. It’s unable to get rid of the infection completely which causes inflammation beneath the skin’s surface.
Microneedling can also cause microscopic skin scarring. In this instance, the scars aren’t visible but the resulting damage soon will be. The scarring becomes worse and worse with each treatment. The more scar tissue that is created in the skin, the less space there is for collagen, and elastin.
Repeated application of excess pressure also puts the client at risk of developing visible scars and/or hyperpigmentation. Any treatment which uses microneedles that are too long or too thick will also leave patients at risk as a result of excess skin trauma. Tram track scars are common with microneedling⁶.
Dermoi’s Stance On Microneedling
When done in the right way, microneedling can be a great treatment option for skin rejuvenation. This is because it is minimally invasive, and keeps the skin barrier intact. However, certain facials use microneedles in an aggressive way and this can cause facial scarring and pigmentation issues. Control of the microneedle depth and procedure is essential, therefore a credible source for microneedling treatments is required.
– Dermoi’s Chief Scientific Officer Eve Casha
Do These Treatments Make Skin More Sensitive to Sunlight?
Sebum is an oily substance produced naturally by the body. It coats, moisturises, and protects your skin.
All of the above treatments strip your face’s skin of its sebum which can lead to dryness. The lack of protection also leaves your skin sensitive to sun damage.
The physical stripping of the skin barrier involved in these treatments only leaves your skin even more vulnerable to serious UV damage.
The stripping of the barrier allows UV rays to hit deeper layers of the skin. At this depth, they can damage or kill skin cells. This destroys the skin’s collagen supplies leading to signs of premature aging including wrinkles, and loose and sagging skin.
Sun damage also slows the rate at which skin cells turn over and replace themselves. This has knock on effects on other areas of the skin and causes dull, dry skin, and uneven skin tone.
Exposure to UV rays can cause age spots, pigmentation, and sunburns as damage builds up. Using the above treatments significantly reduces the skin’s ability to protect itself from UV damage.
Researchers also suggest that heightened exposure to UV radiation generates reactive oxygen and nitrogen. Both of these energise an electron within melanin. That energy can cause DNA lesions, which can cause cancerous mutations⁷.
Effective Alternatives To These Damaging Treatments
At Dermoi, our scientific team have researched and developed the best at home facials that won’t damage the skin!
Before treatment, one of our experts will provide a tailored skincare consultation where you can detail any skin complaints or concerns. We’ll then help select the right facial for you. The entire facial is uniquely tailored to your skin.
We have specialised treatments for anti-aging, pigmentation, acne, dry skin and more to improve your overall skin health.
We operate in London. Facials can be booked as a one-off, or you can subscribe to save up to £740 per year.
Author: Sam Pennington
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- El-Domyati, M., Hosam, W., Abdel-Azim, E., Abdel-Wahab, H. and Mohamed, E., 2016. Microdermabrasion: a clinical, histometric, and histopathologic study. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 15(4), pp.503-513.
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- Honigmann, M., 2021. What is dermaplaning?. [online] Harper’s Bazaar. Available at: <http://www.harpersbazaar.com/uk/beauty/skincare/a32576417/what-is-dermaplaning/>.
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- Migala, J. and Ross Radusky, M., 2021. What Is a HydraFacial? How It Works, Benefits, Risks, and Where to Get One | Everyday Health. [online] EverydayHealth.com. Available at: www.everydayhealth.com/skin-beauty/what-is-a-hydrafacial-how-it-works-benefits-risks-and-where-to-get-one [Accessed 26 July 2021].
- Pryor et al. (2011) Dermaplaning, topical oxygen, and photodynamic therapy: a systematic review of the literature. Aesthetics Plastic Surgery. 35, 1151-1159.
- Waghule, T., Singhvi, G., Dubey, S., Pandey, M., Gupta, G., Singh, M. and Dua, K., 2019. Microneedles: A smart approach and increasing potential for transdermal drug delivery system. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 109, pp.1249-1258.
- Wadhwani, A. and Jana, B., 2019. Microneedle – Future prospect for efficient drug delivery in diabetes management. Indian Journal of Pharmacology, 51(1), p.4.