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The Difference Between Microdermabrasion And A Chemical Peel

So you want to exfoliate, do you? If you’re looking into microdermabrasion or chemical peels, you must be pretty serious. Maybe you’ve heard the terms thrown around, seen people get them on reality shows or you’re just a crazed beauty enthusiast (one of us!) and you are ready to finally test one of these options out. 

No matter the stimulus, you’re clearly ready to take your skin game to the next level. However, there are a few things to know first.

Both treatments can actually be done at home, to a degree, so in this COVID nightmare, there is hope. Some dermatologists will still do in-office appointments at this time (depending on your geographic area, blah, blah, blah), and this is probably the more effective method either way you go. Both options will remove pesky dead skin cells, but first, we want to break down each one so you can determine what is best for you.


I call this the “sandblaster.” This is a non-evasive treatment that removes the outer layer of your dead skin, while improving fine lines, discoloration, and works against aging. The unique granular formula is “sanding” your skin with a small device by your dermatologist, then there is a vacuum-like sensation that sucks up all the deadness you just obliterated. 

It sounds a little gross (but cool!), and it’s pain-free and totally safe. It can also help with acne, hyper-pigmentation, dry skin, clogged pores, rosacea, minor scars, and skin texture problems. 

It’s relatively affordable and you’ll heal fast with a glowing complexion. You might have some tenderness, redness, and swelling but it all goes away pretty quickly. Your dermatologist will apply a moisturizer and sunscreen afterward as your skin will be incredibly sensitive and more prone to sunburn.

The cost will vary with microdermabrasion. In some markets, you can get an in-office treatment for around $140, but it scales upward after that. However, there is an at-home option. It may not give you the best results, but you can still get a feel for the procedure and your skin will be feeling pretty marvelous. The most recommended tool is the PMD Personal Microderm Pro and can be picked up at Sephora for $199.

Chemical Peel

I don’t know about you, but Samantha from SATC always comes to mind when I hear “chemical peel.” Yowza! But chemical peels have come a long way and not all of them will give you awful side effects. This procedure also removes dead skin cells, but it’s through a chemical that dissolves them. Chemical peels help with acne, fine lines, crow’s feet, brown spots, sagging skin, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, melasma, and scars. 

This method works a bit deeper than microdermabrasion and reveals new skin underneath. Because of this, there is a lot of peeling – hence the name. This is a bit more painful than microdermabrasion and takes longer to heal, but it can also ward off skin cancer and it lasts longer. Price points can start as low as $150, but for more intense peels, you can expect to pay up to $3,000. There are quite a few at-home options, but there are so many that you’d really have to do some diligent research to figure out the best one for your skin type and the results you are looking for. That’s a whole other subject!

Can Microdermabrasion And Chemical Peels Be Used Together?

Yes, actually!  These two procedures work incredibly well together to cleanse and improve the texture of your skin. You can’t get them at the same time, but you can talk to your dermatologist about the options and see if the duo is right for you.


At the end of the day, it’s all about how much you want to spend, how uncomfortable you are willing to be, what your convenience preference is like, and how much time you can take to heal. Both will get your skin looking bright and luminous, but it’s always a good idea to do a bit of research if you are going the specialist route. Your friends may have suggestions, or a quick Google search may point you in the right direction. Just be sure to have realistic expectations.

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