Chemical Peels VS Microdermabrasion: Which one is right for me?

In this day and age, there are so many options for skincare help that it can be dizzying to wade through all the options. Luckily, it means that there are plenty of options to help solve your issues. But if you’re not sure where to start it can be difficult to choose without some research beforehand. 

Both procedures are intended to change your skin’s overall texture, smoothness, and clarity, but each goes about doing so in different ways. They both exfoliate to promote cellular regeneration and collagen production, and they each have various benefits and drawbacks for different skin conditions. 

Chemical peels 

Chemical peels use, you guessed it, chemicals to break down the “glue” of your skin to generate new skin cell production. A specific solution is applied to the face and left on to penetrate the skin. Depending on the peel strength there may no peeling or intense peeling.  

The benefits of peels are that they are in a way customizable. Different acids target different skin issues, such as using salicylic acid for acne and glycolic acid for aging, and you can vary the strength of the peel depending on issue severity. The chemicals are able to penetrate deeply into the skin which makes peels ideal not only for superficial exfoliation, but it’s a great way to treat issues like wrinkles, skin texture issues, and deeper scarring. 


Microdermabrasion uses a technique where a minimally abrasive tool is swiped over the skin to remove the thicker, uneven superficial layer of the skin. Some tools use tiny crystals to “sand” the skin and exfoliate the top layers and then use a suction tool to get rid of the unwanted dead skin cells. By removing the debris and resurfacing the skin you are left with a brighter and smoother complexion. 

Because it targets a superficial layer of the skin it’s able to target dark spots and acne, both problems that arise in the epidermis, and helps brighten and tone. 

So what’s the right option for you?

When considering which procedure to undertake it’s important to consider your desired outcome, your lifestyle, and your budget. 

First, identify the skin issue you want to address, and whether or not it needs to be addressed at a deeper level or at a superficial level.

 Do you just want a gentle resurfacing? Both a superficial peel or microdermabrasion could work.

Do you need to address deeper wrinkles and scars? A chemical peel would probably be best for these issues and may require multiple sessions. 

Will you be in the sun a lot, doing heavy exercise, or do you need to be at an event soon? Depending on the strength of the chemical peel, you might have some longer downtime or significant peeling that some wish to wait it out at home. Microdermabrasion has virtually no downtime which might be ideal if you need to brighten up your skin before an event. 

Both increase photosensitivity, but chemical peels might increase it more so than microdermabrasion.  The few days after either session you’ll need to be diligent about applying sunscreen if you must be outside, though for peels it’s generally recommended that you avoid the sun as much as possible for 7-14 days after a peel. 

How much can I pay for this? According to the American Society for Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of a microdermabrasion session is $131. Usually, 6 to 12 treatments are needed to see significant improvement if your skin has more severe issues to resolve. There are at-home microdermabrasion kits that range from $20 to $300 dollars. 

At-home peels cost as low as $10 to $100, all depending on the company and the concentrations. Dermatologist administered peels can range from $150 to $3000 depending on the type and the application process. The upside of a dermatologist is that those suffering from severe skin issues might need more than the superficial or medium depth peels that can be purchased over the counter. 

Can you do both? 

Yes, but proceed with caution. Any exfoliation can cause harm if done in excess. Some spas and dermatologist offices offer microdermabrasion and peel combos, but they are controlled and designed to maximize the other. Performing both at home could cause damage if you are not well versed in how the two might combine. It’s best to leave it to the professionals if you were wanting to get a combo chemical and microdermabrasion facial. 

Overall, you should determine what best fits your needs at the time. They both are great options and should be considered when looking at ways to improve your skin health. 


Tagged With: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,