Why Microdermabrasion Damages Your Skin

Find out what popular skin treatment microdermabrasion is and why it's bad! We'll also recommend the best alternatives.

Author: Sam Pennington

Reading time: 5 minutes

Microdermabrasion is one of the most popular skincare treatments on the market. It acts as a dead skin remover, but its transformative capabilities might not be as impressive as they first appear. In fact, microdermabrasion can cause lasting damage to the skin. In this blog, we'll cover what exactly microdermabrasion is and why it's damaging. We'll also cover the best alternative treatments.

What is Microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is a non-chemical skincare treatment designed to buff away the top layer of your skin (stratum corneum). It’s a type of face exfoliator designed to remove dead skin cells.

Don't confuse it with dermabrasion. This is a stronger, invasive surgical procedure performed by dermatologists or plastic surgeons under anaesthesia.

Microdermabrasion is generally regarded as a superficial anti-aging treatment and supposedly reduces the appearance of fine lines, minor scars, wrinkles and age spots. Microdermabrasion before and after effects reportedly include younger looking skin and the overall feel of the skin being smoother.

However, it’s difficult to demonstrate its actual benefits. It has also been scientifically proven to only generate mild to moderate improvement.

For this minimal effect, the negatives of stripping away your skin’s barrier outweigh the positives. As a result of this, microdermabrasion remains an intensely debated topic among medical professionals.

How Does Microdermabrasion Work?

The most common application method involves the use of a specialist microdermabrasion machine being scraped along the very top layer of the skin. Most microdermabrasion units are negative pressure systems that blast aluminium oxide crystals into the skin. Some systems also use sodium chloride crystals or positive pressure.

There Are 3 Main Types Of The Procedure:


This method of microdermabrasion uses a diamond tipped instrument to erode the top layers of skin, whilst suctioning the dead cells away. The technician's applied pressure and the length of time spent on each area of skin determines the depth of the treatment. Expressing areas of skin concerns to the technician allows them to target specific areas of the face. This method is also used close to the eyes as a result of its precision.


This technique uses a spray containing fine crystals to rub off the outer layer of skin. There is also an in-built suction system to remove the crystals and dead skin cells.

Hydra Dermabrasion

This is a crystal free exfoliation method which instead uses water and oxygen.

The Initial Side Effects of Microdermabrasion

Due to the abrasive nature of the treatment, skin inflammation is a common side effect. People who’ve received the treatment report swelling, redness and tenderness immediately after.

Again, because of the exfoliation, many people report having dry and flaky skin after microdermabrasion as a result of excessive water loss. The treatment should be immediately followed by a hydrating facial moisturiser. This is to prevent skin dehydration.

One of the most serious immediate side effects is your skin’s increased susceptibility to sun damage. As the protective barrier of dead skin cells has been removed, your skin is highly sensitive to UV rays. This can cause serious damage. Regular exposure to UV rays without adequate protection can lead to sunburn, and even skin cancers.

Why You Need to Avoid Microdermabrasion

While there is some improvement in skin collagen content¹, the damage its causing to achieve this makes it not worth it in the long run. Microdermabrasion gives temporary results, that have long lasting damaging and aging effects.

The stripping of the stratum corneum can also result in bacterial infections. This is due to the breaking down of your skin’s barrier which leaves your skin vulnerable. This then allows potential bacterial infections to pass through the skin barrier.

On top of this, it leaves the skin more susceptible to damaging free radicals in the air, which arise from issues such as pollution. Free radicals are chemicals that have lost an electron. This causes oxidative stress as these free radicals are unstable and highly reactive. They resultantly oxidise everything that they come into contact with, which is one of the leading factors contributing to premature aging.

Aside from the surface action, microdermabrasion has a minimal effect on the skin underneath. This means the perceived benefits are largely superficial, and don’t work to actively target or treat underlying conditions, or signs of aging. In fact, all the above affects contribute to a gradual increase in the skin’s aging process.

The Serious Effects Of Microdermabrasion on Deeper Skin Tones

Dermoi Chief Scientific Officer Eve Casha explains that the treatment can be particularly damaging to those with deeper skin tones. Microdermabrasion can cause skin pigmentation. This is often temporary but can lead to permanent visible effects. Those with deeper skin tones may experience uneven darkening or lightening on certain areas of the skin.²

Whenever something causes inflammation on deeper skin tones, there’s always risk of pigmentation issues because deeper skin tones have more active melanocytes. In severe cases when inflammation causes permanent damage to melanocytes they will lose function. Skin blanching (permanent white patches) will occur caused by a disruption of melanosomes in the epidermis.
- Dermoi's Chief Scientific Officer, Eve Casha

Microdermabrasion Is Temporary

Since human skin typically regenerates at roughly 30-day intervals, any visible improvement seen with microdermabrasion is temporary.

This means that the procedure requires repeating on average intervals of 2 to 4 weeks. Repeated exposure to microdermabrasion with small intervals, increases the chance of having long lasting skin damage, and can lead to the premature aging of the skin.

Alternative Treatments to Microdermabrasion

Osmosis Vitamin Infusion is a next generation "no-acid facial peel" for deep rejuvenation. It begins with a deep double cleanse and enzymatic exfoliation.

Following this is the vitamin infusion which uses liposomes to deliver a potent dose of vitamin A. The treatment involves the addition of added skincare actives depending on your skin conditions.

Following this is a lifting, plumping, and firming hydrating mask. At the end of the treatment, a combination of antioxidant-rich serums, hydrators, and protectors are then applied to the skin to delivery the ultimate level of protection.

Overall the treatment provides resurfacing whilst repairing the skin’s barrier. Vitamin A is also an antioxidant, which protects against the damaging effects of free radicals.