Crystal Microdermabrasion – Why It’s Inferior to Other Versions

crystal microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is one of the most beloved facials ATM. It’s a form of exfoliation that removes the outermost layer of the skin – the stratum corneum – and reveals more even, better skin underneath.

There are now several variations of the treatment which emerged from the crystal microdermabrasion – the only microdermabrasion technique available up to a few years ago. Since then, the technique was improved and new machines were developed, but it’s not like crystal microdermabrasion isn’t done anymore.

So, let’s see why most cosmeticians have switched to newer versions and why crystal microdermabrasion isn’t so popular anymore.

How Is Crystal Microdermabrasion Done?

Crystal microdermabrasion is a form of exfoliation done with a device which blasts crystals onto the skin that “scrape off” dead skin cells, and immediately sucks away the used crystal and the debris.

A crystal microdermabrasion device is a relatively complex machine: a handpiece features a multifunctioning tip that ejects crystals and suctions them back up; the handpiece is connected to the main hardware with a tube, which has a container where all the debris is stored.

The abrasive crystals are most commonly aluminum oxide, and they have sharp edges and irregular shapes. When blasted against the skin, they take off dead cells.

The configurations of the machine can be adjusted to determine the intensity of the exfoliation, but to a certain degree. The sharpness of the crystals cannot be controlled.

Check out our comprehensive guide through microdermabrasion for more information on the treatment.


how is crystal microdermabrasion done
Image source: Freepik

What Are the Risks and Disadvantages of This Technique?

Crystal microdermabrasion was a very good starting point for developing more advanced versions, but there are definitely problems associated with it. Let’s see what they are.

It Entails More Intense Post-Treatment Reactions

After a crystal-blasting session, the skin is red, and often irritated. This happens because of the sharp edges of the crystals. While this is nothing serious, it can take some time to subside, and you may not feel comfortable carrying on with your day all red-faced.

It’s Not Suitable for Sensitive Skin

The sharp crystals can cause extreme irritation to sensitive skin, so crystal dermabrasion isn’t really recommended for this skin type. Gentler versions are more suitable.

It’s Not Safe During Pregnancy

The effects of aluminum oxide exposure on the fetus haven’t been studied extensively enough to claim it’s totally safe. So the risks are unclear and it’s better to avoid this treatment during pregnancy.

Higher Risk of Damage to the Skin

The technician actually has very little control over the impact of the crystals upon the skin, and there’s a risk of them damaging the skin in the form of deep streaks, where they take off a thicker layer of skin than they’re supposed to.

Higher Risk of Infection

As a result of what we’ve just described, there’s an increased risk of infection. Spots where the skin is affected more than superficially, there’s a path for dirt and bacteria to penetrate it and cause an infection.

Higher Risk of Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

As a result of intense skin trauma or an infection, there’s an inflammatory response. If it’s extreme, there’s a chance it will leave post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Risk of Crystal Inhalation and Eye Damage

Most of the crystals blasted are suctioned off, but a certain portion remains. The crystals and the crystal dust get in close proximity to the nose and mouth, plus the dust floats in the air, and this poses a risk of inhalation, both on the part of the client, and the practitioner.

Likewise, the crystals and the dust can get into the client’s eyes, which can result in corneal scratches, or an eye infection.

Crystal Residues Remain in the Hair

During the treatment, crystals can get stuck in the client’s hair, eyebrows or eyelashes, and they can be difficult to remove. In the hours after the treatment, they may get loose and get into the client’s eyes, ears, mouth…

What Are the More Advanced Versions of the Treatment?

All these shortcomings were done away with by developing diamond microdermabrasion, and hydro dermabrasion. Let’s look into each.

Diamond Microdermabrasion

The machine is very similar, but a different exfoliation method is used. Instead of blasting crystals, the handpiece ends in a diamond-coated rotary tip with a gritty surface. The tips come in various sizes and levels of grittiness, which means the technician has much better control of the abrasion intensity.

It’s much cleaner and tidier, since there are no crystals being blasted all over the place. It’s also perfectly safe during pregnancy.

You can find more detailed information about diamond microdermabrasion in this article.

diamond microdermabrasion
Image source: Freepik

Hydro Dermabrasion

An even more elaborate version of the treatment, hydro dermabrasion combines the abrasion and suction with deep hydration.

The hydro dermabrasion handpiece does less intense exfoliation since it doesn’t have a gritty surface, but it ejects liquids – different solutions – at high pressure. The stream enters the pores and cleanses them thoroughly, disinfecting the skin. The liquid is immediately sucked away, so no potentially contaminating substance lingers on the skin.

With hydro dermabrasion, the exfoliation is less intense, but there’s an added element of hydration.

We have a whole guide through hydro dermabrasion if you need more info!

hydro dermabrasion
Image source: Freepik

So, Which Treatment Should I Go For?

Generally, if you want to try microdermabrasion for diminishing a certain skin imperfection, the diamond version is more advanced, safer, and potentially more effective. But if you can’t find a technician who offers this version of the treatment in your area, crystal microdermabrasion can work, too, just be aware of the risks. Hydro dermabrasion is great if you just want to improve your skin overall, but it takes more time to improve specific skin conditions.

Cover image source: Freepik

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