A Facial vs. Microdermabrasion

A cucumber facial can freshen up your skin.

Photo: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

What? You mean you don't have flawless skin like Leighton Meester, Amy Adams or Jennifer Garner? Of course you don't! Movie stars have an arsenal of aestheticians waiting to pamper them with the latest and priciest technologies we lesser beings are not privy to. This doesn't mean you're doomed to dull skin forever. If your paycheck says more "Blockbuster video manager" than "blockbuster movie star," a facial or a microdermabrasion may be your skin-care savior (at least, temporarily), but before you book that appointment, find out which treatment is best for your budget and individual beauty.

The Basics

Facial is a pretty broad term that generally breaks down to an exfoliation to remove dead skin, followed by a mask of some sort to rejuvenate the skin. The mask might be made from any number of ingredients like cucumber, seaweed or -- for the rich and fabulous -- even caviar. After the mask, you moisturize, moisturize and moisturize some more. Microdermabrasion is a completely different story. After cleansing your skin, a specialist sprays tiny, rough aluminum oxide crystals onto your face and uses a suction device to vacuum them up. In some cases, the specialist may use a small handheld sander on the skin. Sound painful? Don't worry, it's not, but it may leave your skin a little red, temporarily. Again, the specialist applies a serum to add moisture back into the skin. You can also go the DIY route with an at-home tool that scrubs and then smooths the skin.

The Facts About Facials

A facial can liven up dull skin and even-out uneven pigment, similar to your trusty foundation or mineral powder, but just how beneficial a facial really is depends on who you ask. While some women swear by them and some doctors offer them in their dermatology or aesthetic practices, others in the medical profession doubt their effectiveness. Oxygen facials promise to pump up the skin with new collagen, but if you're looking for the plump-proof, spas can only show before and after pictures, no actual research studies.

The Data on Microdermabrasion

Because microdermabrasion was originally a procedure only a medical professional could perform, you have more than just your BFF's cousin's word-of-mouth to trust. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, microdermabrasion can create new collagen, and it offers modest results to reduce age spots, discoloration, shallow scars and those light wrinkles you notice way more than anyone else does. If you buy a microdermabrasion home-kit, expect less impressive results with skin that looks smoother, has smaller pores and has a whole lot less dead skin on the surface.

Consider This

When it boils down to it, both facials and microdermabrasion offer only temporary results, and you won't know how miraculous or how mediocre those results are until after the procedure. You may find better results with microdermabrasion, but you're going to drop more Benjamins, and you're still going to need multiple sessions for a true transformation. Facials are not one-type-fits-all, and if an aesthetician tries to offer you one without a skin assessment, walk your imperfect skin right out of that door. You're better off doing it yourself with an exfoliating scrub, a mask for your skin type (oily, dry or normal) and a moisturizer.

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