Is At-Home Microdermabrasion Legit? Our Editor Put Her Face on the Line to Find Out

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As a beauty editor, I've always claimed to put my face on the line in the name of beauty - and content - in order to bring you honest, objective product reviews.

It even says so in my author bio. "I'll put just about anything on my face (and body, and hair... you get the idea) to find out if you should, too."

This is 99.45 per cent true, but sometimes, even this beauty road-tester hesitates before slapping something on her face. Or in this case, putting a powerful motorised device near it.

So, I'll admit, when Adore Beauty launched the PMD Beauty Personal Microderm Classic - Blush - a microdermabrasion tool that promises professional results at home for brighter, more even textured skin, I was... scared.

Why? Because at-home skincare tools are kind of scary. But it's for this exact reason I knew I had to try it and report back so you'll know what to do and expect should you want to give it a go, too.

Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about at-home microdermabrasion, and my step-by-step PMD Microderm trial and review.

You can watch my full, no BS at-home microdermabrasion YouTube tutorial below!

What Is Microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive skin treatment that involves resurfacing the top layer of the skin using a combination of abrasive crystals and suction technology.

It's a little bit old school, but professionals have been performing microdermabrasion treatments in-clinic for decades.

Microdermabrasion Benefits.

Because microdermabrasion removes the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin's epidermis), the most common and instant benefit is that post-facial glow. Think soft, bouncy skin and the appearance of infant-sized pores.

Longer-term, microdermabrasion may help in the treatment of:

  • Scars, including acne scars.

  • Acne and regulation of sebum production.

  • Uneven skin tone and texture.

  • Pigmentation and melasma.

  • Photoaging and signs of ageing like fine lines and wrinkles.

  • The appearance of enlarged pores.

To treat more stubborn skin concerns, you'll want to look for a skin treatment that works on the deeper levels of the skin, like laser resurfacing or chemical peels.

How Does At-Home Microdermabrasion Work?

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At-home microdermabrasion devices are essentially smaller and less powerful versions of the microderm machines used professionally. They provide similar exfoliation, suction and absorption features, only you can do them yourself at home, pants optional.

Here's a rundown on how at-home microdermabrasion tools work:

  • Hypoallergenic and antibacterial aluminium oxide crystal discs buffs dead skin cells from the top layer of the skin using patented spinning disc technology (i.e. the crystal discs spin around really, really fast).

  • Removing this top layer of skin promotes cell turnover to reveal brighter, healthier skin underneath.

  • At the same time, suction technology increases circulation and triggers our skin’s natural healing process - this tells the skin to make more collagen and elastin = plump, fresh, radiant skin.

  • This microdermabrasion process may increase the absorption of topical skincare products like your serums.

How to Do Microdermabrasion at Home.

For a step-by-step on how to do microdermabrasion at home, watch my handy YouTube tutorial above. Too busy? Here's the quick(er) version:

1. Prep the skin by cleansing and drying the face - do not apply any other skin care before getting started.

2. Plug in your microderm device, remove the cap, click your disc of choice onto the rod (more on that in a bit) and screw the cap back on.

3. Starting on the low setting, turn on your device and pull the skin taught before running the tool over the skin in one swift upwards motion away from the centre of the face. Don't apply any pressure and be careful not to go over each section of skin more than once.

4. Work methodically across the face, pulling the skin taught before passing the machine over each area. Avoid the eye area and any other areas where you usually experience sensitivity (for me, it's my cheeks).

5. When you're done, turn off the device, remove the cap and disc and clean the cap with warm, soapy water.

6. Apply hydrating skincare products like hyaluronic acid serums and emollient moisturisers to give back to your skin barrier. Avoid active ingredients like vitamin A and chemical exfoliants as they will increase the chances of skin irritation, and be diligent with sun protection.

My Honest PMD Microdermabrasion Review.

The first thing to know about the PMD Beauty Personal Microderm Classic - Blush is that it's $239. Nothing compared to the cost of regular salon micro treatments, but definitely not free.

Inside the box, you'll find the tool's base, a charging cord, a small cap for your face and a large cap for your body, plus several crystal discs for both face and body.

The box could come with more thorough instructions, but open up the inside jacket of the box and you'll see a colour-coded guide to which disc is best suited to your skin type and skill level.

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There are five ever-so-slightly textured discs included that offer varying levels of exfoliation:

  • White = an ultra-sensitive practice disc.

  • Grey = very sensitive.

  • Blue = sensitive.

  • Green = moderate.

  • Red = very coarse.

The first time using the tool, I went with the white disc because I'm a fraidy cat. I'd like to think it's the clever option, though, because it lets you get used to the at-home microderm technique, without any major risk. I upgraded to the ultra sensitive grey disc the second time round once I felt more confident.

You can actually watch me use the tool live for the very first time in front of strangers on the internet in this IGTV video below!

Figuring out how to work quickly with this tool while also not allowing the suction to pull on the skin for too long takes some getting used to, but it was pretty easy once I got going.

With each pass over the skin, I noticed some redness instantly. I didn't experience any pain or irritation, and you definitely can't feel the disc scratching on your face. Around the nose (where I was most keen to exfoliate my blackheads off) was the trickiest area to navigate.

The whole treatment took two to three minutes, and after applying my hydrating skin care, the redness subsided within an hour. Results-wise, I got the promised glow, and without any sensitivity the following day.

Here's my mug an hour after the treatment wearing only skin care. And sitting in good light. I wouldn't play you like that.

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I haven't used this tool consistently enough to be able to comment on the long term results of at-home microdermabrasion.

Everyone's skin is different, but I can see how being able to do at-home microdermabrasion fortnightly or monthly could especially benefit oily skin types or those with congested, dull skin. (The brand says you can use it weekly, but I personally wouldn't, just in case.)

Is At-Home Microdermabrasion Safe?

At-home microdermabrasion is intimidating, but if you follow the instructions and start with the lowest settings and discs, using a clinical-grade tool like the PMD Beauty Personal Microderm Classic - Blush is safe.

There is no downtime, no pain and minimal side effects - it is an exfoliation treatment, so some pinkness in the hours afterwards is normal.

But yes, at-home microdermabrasion may lead to bruising, increased redness, tenderness and sensitivity if you're not careful. I'm talking things like using a disc that's too coarse for your skin, applying too much pressure, holding the device against an area of skin for too long or repeatedly suctioning on high settings.

This is one of those things where it's really bloody important to carefully read the instructions, watch video tutorials (did I mention I made one you can watch above?) and practice the technique on your arm before starting on your face.

If you have sensitive skin that throws a tantrum with skin treatments and some active ingredients, this tool probably isn't for you.

And please, START LOW AND SLOW like a tender slow-cooked rack of lamb. Going faster or using the coarsest disc straight up will not get you results faster. It will eff up your face, though.

Microdermabrasion at Home vs in-Clinic.

My honest opinion? I don't really think any at-home skincare tool can deliver the same results as an in-clinic treatment, or at least, not in the same space of time.

Yes, professional microdermabrasion treatments are more expensive than at-home devices, but they usually involve a 30 to 60-minute full service skin treatment combined with other steps like LED or cold laser to aid the healing process. You're also paying for the dermal clinician or dermatologist's professional expertise.

That doesn't mean at-home skincare tools aren't legit, they're just not as powerful as professional machines. This means you'll need to use a high-quality device (aka not a $12 one from a random corner of the internet) consistently over a longer period of time to see comparable results.

So, will I keep using the PMD Personal Microderm? Sure, every now and again to help with the appearance of the pores on my nose. If I can be bothered. But I think at-home microdermabrasion is a bit too hardcore for my sensitive baby face.

But if you like trying new skincare treatments at home and have more robust skin that LOVES the tingle of strong active ingredients and peels, you'll probably enjoy using this tool. A lot.

That brings us to the end of my TED Talk on at-home microdermabrasion. Now, it’s up to you to decide whether to add this gadget to your skincare routine!

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