Microdermabrasion vs Chemical Peel

​​“What’s the difference between microdermabrasion and chemical peel?”

“Which one is right for me?”

These are some of the questions people have been asking, and understandably so. With a bunch of skincare treatments to choose from, these two have become very popular, and while there are similarities between them, the best option for you will depend on what skin condition you are trying to heal.

It’s crucial to know and understand these differences, so you make the right choice and reap its benefits.

That being said, this article will help you understand what each procedure does as well as the pros and cons that come with each of them.

What is Microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is a skincare treatment that helps remove dead skin, effectively improving wrinkles and any form of discoloration through the use of a vacuum. It helps promote better skin tone and texture, reduces scars, and makes you look more youthful by fighting signs of aging.

This procedure is considered medical-grade and a form of deep, manual exfoliation which means the dead skin cells are completely removed to reveal a new, much smoother surface.

Microdermabrasion is used to treat a number of skin conditions you can see below: 

  • Acne
  • Clogged pores
  • Dry skin
  • Minor scars
  • Uneven skin pigmentation

The process usually takes around 30 to 40 minutes after which, the dermatologist applies a moisturizer. It is non-invasive, pain-free, and does not require any downtime. More importantly, it is considered safe and effective.

What is a Chemical Peel?

On the other hand, a chemical peel is a procedure that requires at-home, long-term care as you wait for new skin to resurface. Like microdermabrasion, it is also valuable for treating acne, blemishes, fine lines, and wrinkles, among others.

The difference lies in how the outer layer of the epidermis is removed to reveal new skin underneath. Unlike microdermabrasion which uses a suction, a chemical peel is performed using a chemical solution that helps peel the skin away.

Since a chemical peel works deeper on the skin, it’s not surprising how it requires a few days of healing and recovery, which usually lasts for a week (May vary depending on the person).

During this time, you’ll need to refrain from wearing makeup. You may also use ice packs for soothing relief if you feel any discomfort. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that results may not be permanent and that you need to ask your dermatologist how often you need to come back for the treatment.

Which one is right for you?

The answer to this question will depend on several considerations and, primarily, what you’re looking to get out of the treatments mentioned.

If what you’re after is a long-term solution, then chemical peel would be the better option, but if you’re looking for something fast and affordable, you’d be better off with microdermabrasion.

If you’re looking to turn back the hands of time, a chemical peel would be much more suitable because it helps exfoliate the skin and promotes collagen production.

Lastly, microdermabrasion is less invasive, which is the better choice for people with sensitive skin. As always, make sure to consult your dermatologist to get the proper recommendation.

Microdermabrasion vs. Chemical Peel for Acne and Acne Scars

Microdermabrasion has the tendency to irritate or make acne worse, making chemical peels a much better option when it comes to acne treatment. On the other hand, microdermabrasion can be the more effective option when it comes to raised acne scar treatment.

But then again, this would depend on the kind of acne scars you’re trying to treat. This is because microdermabrasion only works for certain depressed acne scar types, particularly those that lie against the skin epidermis.

It would be best to talk to your dermatologist for more permanent skin conditions like ice pick scars.

Microdermabrasion vs. Chemical Peel for Wrinkles

When it comes to wrinkle treatment, the choice would depend on the kind of wrinkle you’re trying to address.

For light wrinkles, microdermabrasion should be enough or a light chemical peel, for that matter. On the other hand, deep wrinkles will require a deeper solution, making chemical peel the more suitable option for such.

Can you get Microdermabrasion and Chemical Peel at the same time?

The short but sweet answer is “yes,” you can. In fact, combining both procedures works more effectively for cleaning the skin and reducing blemishes like discoloration and wrinkles, just to name a few.

This combination is also highly-recommended for people with oily skin as well as those who are prone to acne. You can think of microdermabrasion as something similar to mowing the lawn, while a chemical peel is more like aerating it. You can also exfoliate your skin through dermaplaning, a procedure that removes the top layer of skin.

Microdermabrasion and chemical peels are highly effective, but getting them done together will yield far better results.

Final Thoughts

Microdermabrasion and chemical peel are both tried and tested procedures that can help treat various skin conditions. While both come with their respective pros and cons, understanding what’s more suitable for your skin type will go a very long way.

These procedures have proven effective, but it’s still safe to say that prevention will always be better than cure which is why we recommend practicing habits that promote good skin health, which you can learn more about in our new book, Unmasking Acne.

Originally Published: December 29, 2021

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I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their acne naturally. If you cannot easily find an answer to your question on the website, please reach out to me by email ([email protected]) or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. I will reply within 24 hours.

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood
Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook!

I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health.

I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on.

This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it.

As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”.

After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts.

In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy.

Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself.

After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅

While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently.

To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision. Read more of Sam's articles.

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