What is Microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is an adaptation, of a medical procedure done on the skin called dermabrasion. Dermabrasion is an invasive dermatologic procedure that affects the living part of the skin, and is performed by medical professionals. Microdermabrasion does not involve the living part of the skin, is less invasive, and can be performed by skin care professionals.

If you've already experienced the difference that using a microdermabrasion product daily can have on your skin, you may be surprised at the ingredients in your current products, and why ingredients are important...

What’s in Your Microdermabrasion Products? (note highlighted ingredients)

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Silicones and why are they in your skin care products?

Why pH matters in skin care products (and why you should care...)


In the June 28, 2011 Skin Inc. article, “Microdermabrasion and Dermabrasion”, by Dermatologists, Zoe Draelos, MD, and Peter T. Pugliese, MD, the following statements are made on the benefits of Microdermabrasion to skin concerns:

“Microdermabrasion operates on the premise that encouraging exfoliation of the skin is desirable.” “Microdermabrasion improves the appearance of several aspects of the skin, such as increased pigment, which may be contained in the outer corneocytes. This pigment may make the skin look freckled due to the presence of lentigenes, the medical term for brown spots, and scaling brown growths, known as seborrheic keratoses. Microdermabrasion can remove the skin scale that contains the pigment, making the skin more evenly colored. However, it is possible for the lentigenes and seborrheic keratoses to reappear as the skin cells again produce irregular pigment, making the improvement temporary.”

“There is some evidence that repeated microdermabrasion can have a longer-lasting impact on the amount of ground substance in the skin responsible for holding water. The minor skin injury induced by microdermabrasion may cause wounding that encourages the skin to heal. This healing can stimulate the replacement of skin structure and improve the appearance of photoaged skin.”

“In addition, as the skin ages, the bonds between the cells do break easily, and dead skin can accumulate. This is why exfoliation produces a benefit in mature skin. Microdermabrasion can return the skin exfoliation process to a normal rate if performed on a recurring basis.”

“Microdermabrasion may provide noticeable improvement in clients’ skin texture, but there are other uses of microdermabrasion that are less effective. Microdermabrasion is very good at improving skin radiance and providing a smooth surface for even cosmetic application. Some have advocated its use to treat stretch marks. Indeed microdermabrasion can make all skin surfaces smoother, including stretch marks, but it does not eliminate stretch marks, which are scars, and no currently available treatment can eliminate scars.”

In the Oct/Nov 2007 issue of Modern Bride Magazine, NYC Dermatologist Amy Wechsler, MD explained that the pores of the skin are cone-shaped, and that microdermabrasion removes the surface layer, which is the widest area of the pore, and over time the pore appears smaller.

Dr. Dralos and Dr. Pugliese also discuss a new trend called Infusion Microdermabrasion, where botanicals and antioxidants are applied to the skin after microdermabrasion, and the affect this has on the absorption of product ingredients.

“One of the newest additions to microdermabrasion is the infusion system. Infusion microdermabrasion involves the same principles as traditional microdermabrasion, but after the desquamating corneocytes have been removed, liquid is applied to the surface of the skin automatically by the machine. Because the skin is more permeable once the skin cells have been removed, the absorption of the substances applied to the skin is greater.”

“Infusion microdermabrasion does not offer a clear benefit over manually applying materials to the skin immediately following the procedure.”

“Microdermabrasion performed by professionals using a machine is pressure controlled, and is more aggressive than manual application. This pressure increase can create issues for people with high pigment in their skin, and skin of color. Manual application microdermabrasion products are not applied under pressure.”

“Microdermabrasion can be used on any dry-skin area. When performing microdermabrasion on skin of color, be sure to care for the skin gently. Do not dial up the speed of the machine; use it on a lower setting at first until you better understand your client’s skin. Although microdermabrasion can smooth skin of color, it cannot lighten pigmented areas or skin color.”

To fully understand microdermabrasion, it is helpful to have a basic understanding, of the structure of the skin.

The skin has 3 levels, with multiple layers within each level. The first level, the epidermis has 6 layers. Along with melanocytes, the cells that add pigment to our skin, the basal or deepest layer of the epidermis, is responsible for cell division. It takes about 28 days, for new cells to make the journey to the surface. As we age, this surface layer of dead skin cells becomes hard and compacted. New skin cells actually only reach the bottom of this hard upper crust of 20-30 layers of skin that increases in depth with age. This is the stratum corneum, also called the horny layer. As cells migrate and die, the horny layer of the epidermis thickens and pressure builds, making the dermal layer more susceptible to congestion and toxic build-up. The visible results, of skin aging, are seen on the face as puffy sagging skin, wrinkles and jowls.

This hard layer can only be removed by microdermabrasion, ultrasound, chemicals, laser, or by surgical blade. The basis of a chemical peel, and microdermabrasion is the creation of what the skin sees as trauma. The result is a wound-healing response, which causes tissue regeneration and an improved skin appearance. TCA, glycolic acid and chemical peels, performed by estheticians, are directed at layers of skin within the epidermis. Microdermabrasion creams are the only method safe for home use, and for all skin types. The epidermis also contains cells called keratinocytes that produce keratin, a water insoluble protein that hardens structures. The hardened cells, or corneocytes make up 75% of the epidermis, and give the stratum corneum its name. When this hard layer is removed on a regular basis, younger cells come to the surface, and ingredient absorption, according to Dermatologists Zoe Draelos, MD and Peter T. Pugliese, MD, is increased. Most skin care products affect the epidermis alone.

Some conditions, such as scars, can only be improved by impacting the dermis, or the second level of skin, which also contains multiple layers. Physicians alone can perform chemical peels to the epidermal-dermal junction and below. Aging of the skin, although visible from the epidermis, happens here. However, skin health has an affect on all levels of the skin, thus if you impact the epidermis, you impact the dermis.

This photo shows two cross-sections of skin. Photo A is the before photo. The large, white dead compacted layers of the stratum corneum or horny layer of the epidermis are visible sitting on top of the thin dark line of the basal layer of the epidermis where cell division occurs.

The papillary dermis is the deeper colored section with projections in Photo A. Made of millions of cells of connective tissue, the dermis contains macrophages, Merkel cells, Langerhans cells, mast cells, blood vessels, sebaceous glands, hair shafts and roots, hormone receptors, sweat and sebaceous glands, lymph vessels, nerve endings, and fibroblasts, that form elastin and collagen. The dermis supports and nourishes the epidermis. Together they work as a system and make up 90%, of the skin mass. Photo A shows the deeper purple middle level of the dermis. Photo B shows the results of dermal thickening due to increased collagen and elastin production. Collagen and elastin are complex proteins that hold and release water, and are responsible for the structure of the skin. Damage to collagen and elastin, occurs from cell damage. When weak fragile fibers, of collagen and elastin, can no longer support the structure of the skin, the dermal layer collapses.

The third layer of skin is the hypodermis, and contains subcutaneous tissue, lymph ducts and blood vessels. It acts as a protection from trauma and insulates the body.

True microdermabrasion uses Corundum Crystal (Alumina), and is also known, by its chemical name, Aluminum Oxide. Aluminum Oxide is also the chemical name, for the sapphire. When it contains Chromium, it is a ruby. When properly mined, and fused at high temperatures of over 2000C, it is an inert insoluble compound succeeded in hardness on the Mohs scale, only by the diamond.

Not all Corundum Crystal is of the same quality. Many products on the market use a laboratory synthesized Corundum made from Bauxite, the principal ore of Aluminum. Bauxite has high levels of impurities and is too soft to impact the epidermis.

The alpha Alumina, in its natural form, has a blocky, hexagonal shape. Although alpha Alumina is very fine, the natural blocky, hexagonal edges are sharp, and highly effective at debridement. In the USA, Corundum Crystal is in use as a new method, of removing superficial dental caries.

According to Richard Wachsman, a physicist from MIT, “All crystals contain inclusion pockets. These pockets contain molecules of hydrogen and oxygen. When these crystals are applied to the skin in a product, they create a magnetic state with the hydrogen and oxygen molecules in the water on the skin. This creates a vibration, which affects the skin.”  Water, through its molecular components of hydrogen and oxygen, act as a catalyst. As a result, water (moist skin) activates and enhances performance. For this reason NaturDerm recommends misting the face with bottled water before applying products.


Disclosure:  These are actual stories sent in by customers.  No products, or services were provided.  Customers followed recommended use, which requires daily use.  They are not typical of all customers.  Typical use can expect to see smoothing of the skin within the first week of daily use.

Microdermabrasion removes the surface layers of skin. Sebaceous glands deep within the dermis secrete an oily substance called sebum. Sebum is the natural moisturizer of the skin, and is usually deposited on the inside of hair follicles, where it is brought to the surface of the skin. Dead skin cells can mix with sebum and become impacted deep in the pores. Microdermabrasion not only removes the dead skin cells and surface debris, it can catch impacted debris, and over time bring it to the surface of the skin.


The information contained herein is for cosmetic educational purposes only. It is not to be used for the purpose of treatment, or diagnosis. People with medical or skin conditions should consult with their health-care professional before use. For adult or adult-supervised use. For external use only. Reproduction of this page, use, or links in any form are not permitted. All Intellectual Property, images, information, and/or trademarks on this page are copyright protected. NaturDerm, Inc., GreatNewSkin, ABABA Products, LLC., nor any product line we offer makes no claims, diagnosis, or recommendation for treatment. No intention is given or implied that any product use removes scars or stretch marks. We state only what our customers have shared with us by testimonial, or photo. All testimonials, and photos are personal testimonies of actual product users. Individual results may vary, and depend upon the use of the individual. These comments are not approved by the US-FDA and are intended for informational purposes only. NaturDerm, Inc., GreatNewSkin, ABABA Products, LLC., bears no responsibility for the use of information provided herein. The US-FDA has not evaluated any statement made herein, No liability is to be taken by NaturDerm, Inc. or any of its employees, or subsidiaries for any complications arising from any use or misuse or otherwise of any product, or information. Copyright protected. All Rights Reserved. 1998 -forward NaturDerm, Inc., GreatNewSkin, ABABA Products, LLC.