Every time we open our social media feeds, we are bombarded with a plethora of photos depicting the flawless complexions of models and celebs such as Miranda Kerr, Rihanna, and Katy Perry. Despite religiously cleansing, toning, and moisturizing, we never quite seem to get rid of our uneven skin tone, fine lines, wrinkles, and other blemishes standing between us and a radiant appearance of our own.

Thankfully, there are a number of professional treatments available that can boost the appearance of our skin significantly. Microdermabrasion and glycolic acid peels are two of the most popular methods – they’re used not only to combat the onset of age-related appearance issues but to give skin a general healthier appearance as well. As both treatments have very similar properties, it’s important to take a closer look at their likenesses and differences.

What are these treatments even used for?

Microdermabrasion is a versatile procedure that is most effective at treating superficial skin blemishes. It can remove the coarse, uneven skin texture caused by prolonged exposure to the sun and also reduce the appearance of minor acne scarring. Uneven skin tone can also be reduced by microdermabrasion as can fine lines and wrinkles. A glycolic peel can be used to eliminate rough, dry, skin, reverse some of the effects of sun damage, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. These peels work best on more serious skin problems such as deep wrinkles and a very uneven skin tone.

How do the processes differ?

Microdermabrasion is a completely non-evasive procedure that makes use of a special wand spraying very fine crystals onto the surface of the skin. The purpose of this is to remove the layer of dead cells that is present on the skin in order to reveal the smoother, more radiant-looking skin that is underneath. A glycolic peel is more invasive and uses glycolic acid (which is derived from sugarcane) to give the skin a deep exfoliation.

When applied to the skin, the glycolic acid binds with the ‘adhesive’ that holds dead skin cells on your skin, forcing it to fall away. This will reveal a new layer of sskin that is not only younger-looking, but more radiant in appearance as well.

There’s a difference in timing and commitment

Although the difference in the time it takes for each of the procedures to be completed is not enormous, it is worthy of a mention. Microdermabrasion generally takes between 30 minutes and an hour to complete and is generally performed every 2 to 3 weeks for optimal results. A glycolic peel itself, on the other hand, takes about 10 minutes to complete although it is often performed in conjunction with other procedures such as a facial. Peel treatments are delivered every 3 to 4 weeks for best results. While you may notice some immediate difference to your skin it may take up to 5 treatments (of either procedure) before a truly notable difference is observed.


Why not have the best of both worlds?

If comparing microdermabrasion and glycolic peels seems like too much hard work, you can always combine the treatments. Although this is a big decision that you can only make after consulting with a physician or skin care professional, the results may prove to be well worth the effort. The biggest advantage of combining these procedures is that it provides a penetration that is deeper than any treatment can offer on its own.

The skin is typically first exfoliated with the microdermabrasion before the glycolic peel is applied. As the combination of procedures increases the risk of hyperpigmentation, it is generally not advised for individuals with darker skin tones.

Both microdermabrasion and glycolic peels can be used with great effect. Even if you are familiar with your own skin type it is best to always seek out professional advice before making use of any skin care treatments, regardless of how safe they appear to be.