A collage comparing the application of microdermabrasion and chemical peel

Microdermabrasion vs Chemical Peel: Which Is Better?

Chemical peels and microdermabrasion are both exfoliating skin treatments designed to improve dull skin texture and lessen wrinkle formation. However, how they get these results makes for a drastically different experience.

In this blog, we’re going to compare the differences between microdermabrasion and chemical peel to help you choose between them. We’ll go over the basics, how the procedures work, the results you can expect, and the side effects. Let’s get into it!

A High-Level Overview

Before we dive deep into the discussion, here’s a general overview of the differences between chemical peels and microdermabrasion:

Microdermabrasion Chemical Peel
Exfoliates the skin ✔️ ✔️
Uses physical methods for exfoliation ✔️
Uses a chemical solution for exfoliation ✔️
Has various types of application ✔️ ✔️
Has no downtime ✔️
Can penetrate deep layers of the skin ✔️
Requires strict aftercare  ✔️
Has a longer recovery period ✔️
Painless procedure ✔️

What Is Microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive procedure designed to uplift skin tone and texture. It’s also treated as physical exfoliation, manually removing dead skin cells from the outermost layer of the face. Aestheticians and dermatologists use an applicator to sand or rub crystals that gently scrape the outer layer of your skin.

Types of Microdermabrasion

There are three types of microdermabrasion treatment:

  • Diamond Tip Microdermabrasion – This procedure requires a handpiece with a diamond tip to remove dead skin cells on your face.
  • Hydradermabrasion – This procedure combines extraction, suction, and serum infusion for increased skin rejuvenation.
  • Crystal Microdermabrasion – This procedure is when clinical professionals use a handpiece to gently rub crystal spray to exfoliate the skin.

How Does Microdermabrasion Work?

Customers who wish to have microdermabrasion should head to a reputable med spa because it’s an in-office treatment.

The entire treatment usually takes an hour to complete with no anesthesia or numbing agents necessary. Professionals will use an applicator to sand crystals or scrape the outer layer of your skin. Once complete, they will apply a thick moisturizer or sunscreen to your face to keep your now-treated skin hydrated and protected.

What Are the Results of Microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion treatments grant the following benefits:

  • Improved skin tone due to lesser dead skin cells on the face
  • Less noticeable acne scars thanks to stimulated cell regeneration
  • Increased facial circulation for reduced fine lines and wrinkles
  • Generally softer and smoother skin

Another benefit is that microdermabrasion doesn’t have downtime, so you’re free to go on about your day as you normally would. However, you may experience swelling, redness, or tenderness that will subside after a short amount of time.

 A close-up shot of acne scars on someone’s cheek

What Are Chemical Peels?

A chemical peel uses a liquid solution to remove or “peel off” several layers of skin. Doing so clears stubborn imperfections and reveals healthier skin underneath.

Types of Chemical Peel

You have three options for intensity when it comes to chemical exfoliation:

  • Light Chemical Peel – Also known as level one, this type of treatment uses mild peeling agents like alpha-hydroxy acid to gently exfoliate.
  • Medium Chemical Peels – This chemical peel penetrates and removes the outer and middle layers of the skin. It requires a more potent agent like trichloroacetic or glycolic acid to effectively remove damaged skin cells.
  • Deep Chemical Peel – Deep chemical peels use phenol acid to reach the middle layer of your skin and clear dead skin cells.

How Does Chemical Peel Work?

Like microdermabrasion, a chemical peel is an in-office procedure requiring a skin consultation beforehand. A chemical peel treatment should only ever be performed by a licensed skin professional or dermatologist.

Chemical peels last from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the type of peel. At the start, patients lie on a clinical bed with their eyes covered with goggles or gauze for protection. Professionals will then apply a topical anesthetic to numb the pain that will be caused by the chemical solutions. Then, they’ll begin the procedure by applying the peeling solution with a sponge, gauze, or cotton-tipped applicator.

What Are the Results of a Chemical Peel?

Chemical peels are more aggressive than microdermabrasion. The healing process can take anywhere from one to three weeks, but you can expect to see the following results five to 10 days after a chemical peel session:

However, even light chemical peels are liable to produce more severe side effects than microdermabrasion. These may include the following:

  • Redness
  • Skin peeling
  • Stinging or burning
  • Swelling
  • Darkening or lightening of the skin colour
  • Scarring
  • Infections

As such, following the strict aftercare instructions prescribed by your skincare specialist is an absolute must. You may need to apply facial lotions, retinoid creams, or antiviral medications to reduce blisters and irritation.

 A woman’s face peeling and flaking days after a chemical peel

Which Is Right for Me?

Choosing between microdermabrasion and chemical peels will ultimately come down to two things: the results you need and your skin type.

In terms of performance, chemical peels are more effective than microdermabrasion since they penetrate deeper skin layers. Those looking to treat stubborn acne, sun damage, and hyperpigmentation will probably prefer this option.

While opting for a chemical peel is an excellent way to go, it’s more demanding and is typically expensive than microdermabrasion. This means full attention and commitment is needed on your end to maximize its intended results and benefits.

Another thing you need to consider is your skin tone and type since not all are compatible with chemical peels. Darker toned or sensitive skin can react negatively to the chemical solutions, depending on the strength of the peel.

Doctors recommend having a consultation first to advise the correct treatment. They’ll assess your concerns to see if you’re fit for a chemical peel or microdermabrasion.

Book a Consultation With Harmony Med Spa

Ultimately, the best way to choose between microdermabrasion and a chemical peel is to let the experts guide you.

Harmony Med Spa can do exactly that! During our complimentary consultation services, we’ll answer any questions you may have, then administer whichever treatment you decide to move forward with. If you’re looking to maintain healthy skin, we’ve got you covered.

Schedule an appointment today!