The world’s gone micro. Macro changes just feel overwhelming, don’t they? Micro feels approachable and doable while also remaining impactful, which is why over the past few decades the beauty industry has mini’d its traditionally gigantic in-office machines in favor of accessible at-home treatments that deliver the same results at a micro-fraction of the cost (see what I did there?).
The results, however, aren’t micro. The key is repetition. When it comes to microcurrent devices, microneedling and microdermabrasion, regular usage can help treat a variety of skin issues including rebuilding collagen, tightening and sculpting facial muscles, clarifying pores, smoothing uneven texture (including the appearance of scarring) and a whole host of other skin-related concerns.
But how do we know which micro tech is right for our unique needs? Never fear, we’ve broken down the facts on each micro situation to help you decide what’s worth trying or skipping.
What is it: The process of using needles to penetrate the skin in order to stimulate a natural regenerative process and promote cellular turnover to create new, bouncy skin cells. When needles glide over the skin, they cause tiny micro-injuries igniting the skin cells to produce new structural proteins, such as collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycans, which form the structural matrix that keeps your skin tough, taut and flexible. This helps to provide your skin with improved access to oxygen and nutrients, meaning cell volume is restored from the inside out making skin look plumper and younger. The tiny needles create painless and imperceptible pathways in the skin that allow skincare to absorb more deeply rather than stopping at the epidermal layer.
Microneedling treatments can be performed at doctor’s offices or at home and they have the ability to treat any area of the body including the face, eye area, lips, scalp, neck, chest and body. In-office treatments traditionally use longer needles, but they also come equipped with a trained doctor who is administering the treatment. These in-office treatments can cost anywhere from $100-$700 per treatment (with 6 treatments being a generally recommended cadence for results.) The needles, like the price tag, are also larger at 1.5mm-3mm. Needles on at-home devices are tiny (literally “micro”) and can target fine lines, wrinkles, scarring and dimpling without causing visible surface disruption to the skin, i.e. no bleeding.
When can I use it: Daily, ideally in the evening as most microneedling treatments cause a slight skin flushing that dissipates quickly. For results, microneedle at least 3x/week for 60 seconds on each target area.
Pairs well with: Must be performed on clean, dry skin. Immediately apply skincare after treatment while micro-channels are most active.
What is it: Exfoliation of the skin and removal of dead skin cells. Results are often tone-based meaning users are looking to target unevenness, age spots, dark spots and dull complexions. The process can be performed with handheld devices or topical exfoliation treatments.
When can I use it: As with any exfoliation product, recommended usage is 2-3 per week max because that top layer of skin needs time to recover and regenerate between uses.
Pairs well with: Perform on clean, dry skin and follow with targeted treatments including serums, oils and concentrates.
What is it: A non-invasive treatment that pulses low-level electricity signals into the skin. These gentle waves ripple through the skin with the goal of reaching our facial muscles. It’s designed to retrain the muscles, helping them to contract and relax, replicating the same toning process that occurs when we exercise. Regularly stimulating these muscles creates a temporary contouring effect and a smoother, more lifted facial appearance.
Because microcurrent devices are designed to be used in up and outward motions, it is more challenging to see results around eyes and lips. The pulses also react differently to any areas of the face that contain injections or fillers as these procedures directly contradict what microcurrent is trying to do, which is relax and contract the muscles.
When can I use it: Consult your dermatologist about incorporating any microcurrent devices into your routine.
Pairs well with: Must be used with a conductor gel.
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What are the main differences between microneedling, microcurrent treatments and microdermabrasion?
Each one is designed to strengthen skin, teaching it to stay firm through age, stress and pollution; and in addition to overall structural improvement, each treatment has a target goal.
Remember to give skin a break, no need to pile on all three treatments night after night. Because microdermabrasion disrupts skin’s surface, avoid performing microneedling and a microderma treatment on the same day.
And for all three devices, check with your dermatologist about mixing in any prescription treatments or retinol use.
So, whether you incorporate all three, one, or none, it’s all about your individual skincare goals. Adding a new treatment to your routine shouldn’t be overwhelming. Just like getting exercise, it should be a part of your day to look forward to that creates lasting results.