Microdermabrasion vs. Chemical Peel [Which is best for you]

More and more people, both men and women, are seeking for the ultimate time-reversing skin treatment, aiming to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots or scarring. And most of them would rather prefer the less invasive procedures whether offered at dermatologist offices, beauty salons or they can be safely performed at home.

microdermabrasion vs chemical peel

Microdermabrasion and Chemical Peel are two of the most commonly performed anti-ageing practices, providing younger-looking, radiant skin. Both of them aim to even out the skin texture by removing the dead cells and contaminants of the skin surface, letting your skin regenerate faster.


Both procedures target the complete removal of skin imperfections by exfoliating the superficial skin layer without damaging the healthy skin underneath.

What is microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is a technique for skin resurfacing, using a crystal or a diamond tip, often in a combination with a vacuum suction feature.

The conception is the removal of the oldest dead skin cells, contaminants, and makeup residue on the skin’s outermost surface. This way, the pores open, the potential irritants are eliminated and new skin cells replace the ones that are removed during the procedure.

What is chemical peel?

Chemical Peel is a procedure in which various weak organic acids are applied to the surface of the skin, providing a significant impact on its structure and appearance.

The aim is to improve both the skin tone by removing the damaged top layer and the turgor (the period your skin returns to its normal position after being pinched) by stimulating the formation of new collagen in the deep skin layers.

This makes your skin significantly fresher, dense, rejuvenated, evenly toned and with a reduced number of defects.

Light to mild chemical peels

Light to mild chemical peels treat the outer layers of skin, heal quickly, and produce minimal textural change. Some of the lighter chemical peels are:

  • Glycolic acid peel
  • Alpha beta acid peel
  • Salicylic acid peel

Strong chemical peels

Strong chemical peels penetrate deep into your skin’s surface, impacting the various layers of skin. This allows the peel to address more severe impurities, such as acne scarring. Some of the strong chemicals are:

  • Perfect peel
  • Transform peel
  • Vitalize peel

Microdermabrasion VS Chemical Peel

Microdermabrasion is considered the less invasive version of skin resurfacing. It uses a constant suction power, aiming to eliminate the upper skin layer (without causing damage to the treatment area).

During a microdermabrasion procedure, the patient is likely to experience a slight tingling and warming sensation, which is then replaced by temporary irritation or redness.

The complete facial recovery usually takes no more than a few hours, patients with extremely sensitive skin type may experience potential side effects (again, irritation or redness) during the next 2-3 days but the procedure is generally considered very mild.

Chemical Peel – depending on the type, chosen by the dermatologist, chemical peels vary in strengths. There are three options available – mild, medium and deep peels.

The least invasive is considerably more aggressive compared to microdermabrasion, as it requires (at least) a month of a recovery period. The deep chemical peel may need several (around 3) months of recovery.

The application of face bandages is another inconvenience that may be necessary following the procedure, not to mention the painkillers and antibiotics, often prescribed following such procedure.

So, chemical peels are more invasive, they appear to be a comparatively successful treatment for more severe skin conditions (such as deep wrinkles or scars) but may provoke serious side effects afterward. Such include burning swelling, and permanent skin discoloration.

Pros and Cons

Microdermabrasion Pros

  • The procedure is suitable for all skin types
  • This is the easiest way to obtain deep skin exfoliation
  • Provides an instant rejuvenating effect
  • Reduces pore sizes
  • Evens out the texture of the skin reduces the appearance of dark, pigment spots
  • Reduces the appearance of mild to moderate acne (not recommended for severe forms of acne)
  • Absolutely safe and relatively painless procedure
  • Microdermabrasion can be safely performed at home

Chemical peel Pros

  • Very beneficial for the reduction of both fine lines and wrinkles
  • Chemical Peel is considered a non-invasive, mildly aggressive procedure
  • Proven effective for the treatment of blemishes and skin pigmentation

Microdermabrasion Cons

  • Ineffective for deep wrinkles and scars, affecting deeper skin layers
  • You will need to spend some time doing in-depth research in order to choose the best microdermabrasion for you (crystal or diamond, at home or at a beauty salon)
  • Individual results vary, which means that you may or may not be satisfied with yours
  • The procedures should be performed regularly, as the procedure does not provide everlasting results

Chemical peel Cons

  • This is one of the high-priced techniques for deep skin exfoliation
  • Side effects, including swelling, redness, and irritation are often available
  • Require a recovery period, which may vary from 2 weeks  to 4 months
  • Exposure to sunlight should be avoided during the entire recovery period


Both microdermabrasion and chemical peel are extremely effective techniques when it comes to removing the dead skin cells and dirt, accumulated on the skin surface, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, pore size and dark spots on the skin of the face and hands as well as the depth of scars, following acne or chicken pox. The blood circulation improves and the skin is instantly rejuvenated.

Post-procedure care

After a microdermabrasion procedure, the skin looks and feels softer and its’ sensitivity may increase. Regular moisturizing is highly recommended in order to additionally help regeneration. The application of sunscreen (SPF30+) is a must, as the skin becomes more fragile and ultraviolet radiation may cause damage to the healthy cells.

When it comes to the chemical peels, the aftercare should be very precise., as the skin becomes significantly more sensitive, requiring specific care until it is fully restored. This period depends on the depth of the peeling.

After a mild peeling, the skin is usually reddish for a period between several hours to one day after the procedure. Then the redness gradually fades and a slight flaking occurs on the surface layer of dead cells formed as a result of the procedure.

When it comes to a moderate or a deep peel, immediately after the procedure, the skin is once again reddish and irritated. It gradually thickens, forming a thick red-brownish crust within 36 hours, which gradually cracks and peels out of the surface of the skin in the form of large flakes.

Regardless of the depth of the peeling, it is important to apply a sunscreen with a maximum factor throughout the restoration period. For faster skin recovery after the procedure, you can apply epithelial and antiseptic creams to speed up the skin regeneration process.

Price Comparison

A microdermabrasion session, performed in a dermatologist’ office or at a beauty studio ranges from $75 to more than $200 per session. Patients usually need five to twelve treatments spaced 15 days apart are usually necessary to reap full microdermabrasion benefits.

Another option is the purchase of a microdermabrasion system for at-home treatment. Such devices are usually less aggressive and can be used more often (the effect is similar to the professionally performed sessions).

The pricing varies between $60 and $250 and you can use the machine for an unlimited period of time.

Chemical peels can be performed by certified dermatologists or aestheticians only, as the procedure may provoke severe skin reactions. Your condition should be strictly monitored during the entire recovery process.

Conclusion: which is better – Microdermabrasion or Chemical peel?

Having reviewed all the positive aspects and the disadvantages of the two most popular skin resurfacing techniques, we would recommend you try the less invasive, painless and risky procedure, Microdermabrasion.

This will reduce the potential risks, following Chemical Peels, as those risks include irreversible pigmentation (sometimes, following Phenol peel) or other skin reactions in case your skin cannot completely recover after the procedure.

Microdermabrasion vs. Chemical Peel
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Microdermabrasion vs. Chemical Peel
Microdermabrasion and Chemical Peel are two of the most commonly performed anti-aging practices, providing younger-looking, radiant skin.
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About the author

Monika Hristova

Monika is the Editor-in-Chief at SkinPractice. She is a skin care addict and researcher, who feels strongly about helping people with different dermatology conditions from alopecia to warts.

You can read her recommendations and advice both here at SkinPractice or at Quora where she answers skincare-related questions frequently and is the most viewed author in the Skincare category with more than 3 million views or follow her on LinkedIn.

She is also a certified skin care specialist with certification from the Medical College in Sofia.

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