Today’s microdermabrasion machines are enabling estheticians to reinvent this affordable favorite.

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There’s a good chance that device-driven microdermabrasion is a part—perhaps even a significant part—of your spa’s service offerings. It certainly is at Carol O’Neil’s shop. “I absolutely love performing microdermabrasion on my clients,” says the esthetician and owner of Carriage House Skin Care, in Austin, Texas. “It’s a mechanical exfoliation like no other.” Microderm has become, in fact, one of the top five most requested non-invasive cosmetic procedures in the U.S., in large part because it remains affordable for many clients and because it’s so effective. Indeed, results are often seen, and felt, after the first treatment.

By now, the spa-going public understands that microdermabrasion is a device-based exfoliation that removes the top layer of skin cells, leaving skin smoother and more even in tone. It also stimulates the dermis to produce more collagen and elastin, leading to a youthful and healthy appearance.

By all accounts, the process is predictable. “The microdermabrasion tool takes off all the dead skin, and pulls dirt, blackheads and other debris out of the pores,” says Amie Quigley, senior esthetician at Spa Gregorie’s, in Newport Beach, California. What’s surprising is the way in which microdermabrasion is evolving, in the design and features of the devices themselves, as well as in their applications in the treatment of skin.

Device Driven

After years of experience and research, today’s microdermabrasion device manufacturers have tailored their products to work more effectively than ever, enabling spa professionals to pick and choose among methods and features. Even within the “diamond tip vs. crystals” debate, there are sub-factors to consider. While some are convinced that diamond tip is king, others remind that crystals are not what they used to be.

“The effectiveness of microdermabrasion depends on the machine and how it has been designed,” says Rita Teixeira, national trainer for Silhouet-Tone. “The intensity of the suction and the crystal flow are very important factors in having an effective machine. The crystals used to be larger, but now they’re more refined—and non-toxic.” Teixeira’s company uses corundum crystals, as opposed to the much-maligned aluminum oxide crystals. And, she reports, “Our new Dermapod has a turbo-flow so the crystals don’t hit the skin directly. Like an inverted tornado, the widest part comes close to the skin for even exfoliation, and for treating a larger area.” The technology is also more comfortable than ever for clients, she notes.

There’s variation to be found in the diamond tip arena, too. “Our company’s devices focus on diamond-based microdermabrasion because the user can control the level of intensity in the suction and abrasiveness of the diamond tip,” points out Leticia Giron, CEO of Belleza & Beauty. Different grit levels on the tips allow for customization to the client’s needs and skin type. This means that sensitivity isn’t as much of an issue, and the tender-skinned among your clients needn’t automatically shy away from microdermabrasion.

Other features emphasize convenience and comfort for the practitioner. The MegaPeel EX Hybrid, from DermaMed Solutions, “offers state-of-the-art sound filters, advanced moisture control, disposable tips and professional protocols to enhance treatment,” says Ginger Hodulik, R&D vice president. The device is also designed with a the patented HEPA filter to assure safety from bio-contaminated waste, and an ergonomically designed hand piece to prevent fatigue. The device is available in both crystal and diamond microdermabrasion versions.

Another advantage of today’s better-engineered microdermabrasion tools is lowered cost of ownership. “The maintenance of the machine used to be expensive,” Teixeira comments, “and some machines needed to go back to the manufacturer for recalibration and maintenance.” She points out that Silhouet-Tone’s Dermapod doesn’t require that kind of hoop jumping because the device has just two filters that need to be changed.

Parlay Plays

The days of offering microdermabrasion as a stand-alone service only are over. “A MegaPeel microdermabrasion treatment allows an esthetician to amplify facials and provide more results-driven treatments,”?says DermaMed’s Hodulik.

Like many spa pros, Carriage House’s O’Neil sells the treatment as an add-on to other spa services. “Microdermabrasion can be added onto any facial to enhance the results,” she reasons. “Of course, the results are cumulative—you’ll definitely see the difference after five treatments.”

In a similar tactic, Spa Gregorie’s’ Quigley maximizes the revenue value of microdermabrasion by pairing it with other spa services. “We do microdermabrasion with a cinnamon hot peel at Spa Gregorie’s,” she says. “It’s great for allowing serums, masques and hydrating products to penetrate deeper than they would with a basic signature facial. It’s also a great way for people who have been doing standard facials to bump up their treatments. Clients will see that ‘microderm glow’ for a couple of weeks, and even longer if they do a series periodically throughout
the year.”

Perhaps the most exciting development is the use of microdermabrasion as a body procedure, especially in skin-baring summer months. Some of the specific body-area treatments available include the back and décolletage (or chest area for men). The treatment helps to clear up body skin breakouts, remove blackheads and restore a smooth texture and glow. “It works wonders by removing dead skin and makes extractions a lot easier,” says Quigley. “The most popular area, besides the face, is the tops of hands.”

Microderm is also a popular go-to for minimizing the appearance of stretch marks as well as post-surgical and post-traumatic scars, by smoothing the surface of rough edges and lightening any pigment deviations surrounding the area. “I have a client who was burned by acid as a child, and she had horrible scars on her arms and chest. She started coming in for microderm facial services, along with treatment for the tops of her arms and hands. It has dramatically helped reduce the scarring and minimize the pigmentation and keloids.”

Clearly, today’s microdermabrasion treatments are not just about making pretty prettier—or handsome handsomer. Better-engineered devices ultimately allow for more happily-ever-after endings like the one Quigley describes. They also transform this effective aind affordable service into a central spa player, enabling spa professionals to parlay what was once an “occasional treat” into a regular favorite, yielding more repeat clients and greater revenue.

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