The unsung hero among salon machines, microdermabrasion is being added into a host of combination technology devices to enhance results, finds Lucy Douglas
Something of a staple for today’s salons, microdermabrasion has moved on from its early incarnations when treatments often left clients red-faced and sore. The advanced exfoliating devices are now compact, gentle on the skin and easy to use, and its benefits are so commonly recognised that microdermabrasion has earned itself a place on the treatment menu of salons up and down the country.Unlike other technologies that were popular with therapists and clients in the ’90s, microdermabrasion hasn’t fallen out of fashion. Angela Moulding, trainer for salon machine manufacturer Carlton Beauty and Spa, which makes microdermabrasion devices, attributes this to the technology becoming more refined over the years.
“Now you have so many machines that are controllable,” she explains. “You can control your vacuum suction, your crystal flow. And you can treat very sensitive skins right the way through to thicker, damaged, pigmented skins.”
Sharon Hilditch, founder and managing director of 20-year-old microdermabrasion brand Crystal Clear, agrees, saying that the improvements in technology have made therapists more confident in using the therapy to treat conditions that they may have shied away from in the past. “I have clients who say their skin is ultrasensitive, but they have had treatment and been amazed at how their skin felt afterwards,” she says. “It’s all down to how you hold the handset, and how gently and lightly you skate over the skin.”
The benefits of microdermabrasion as a treatment in its own right have been well documented. And as more devices combining multiple skin-rejuvenating technologies to offer more impressive results continue to hit the market, it’s clear they have one common feature. “Microdermabrasion is such a good skin preparation treatment,” explains Emma Gray, owner of Skin Logic salon in Romsey, near Southampton. “I think that to use microdermabrasion alone is a bit criminal really, because you’re preparing the skin to such a good level it’s a better time to then do another treatment.”
Gray uses Skinbase’s microdermabrasion device in her salon, and layers it with other technologies, such as LED or IPL, depending on the results that each client is after. “When I was working as a sales rep for a brand, probably 15 years ago, salons would get a microdermabrasion machine and it was all they did. I tried to say to salon owners, ‘think what you’re doing! You’re doing a very, very good skin preparation. Don’t just put suncream on them and send them out the door; do something else’.”
She has been offering microdermabrasion layered with other technologies for 10 years at her salon, where 90% of the business is facials, and she believes it’s becoming more on-trend. “I think salons are looking past what was the norm,” she explains. “We very rarely do a single treatment of anything. A client comes in these days and they don’t just have one concern. They’ll say, ‘I’ve got an age spot, but I’ve also got quite open pores and sagging skin.’ We can’t target all that with just one piece of equipment.”
By sloughing away the dead cell build-up of the stratum corneum, microdermabrasion clears the way for active ingredients or other rejuvenating technologies to get where they need to go to make a difference on the skin. Hilditch recently launched a new generation of Crystal Clear’s Comcit device that has added in microdermabrasion alongside the existing needling and cryooxygen infusion technologies. “I wanted operators to be able to prepare the skin with microdermabrasion prior to Comcit, as it will allow the Comcit infusion product a better penetration ability,” she says.
Taya Amber, who runs Amber Beauty Time in London and is a resident aesthetician at Chelsea-based branch of international salon chain HT by Sakurami, uses the BDR treatment device and combines microdermabrasion with other natural skin stimulation technologies, such as innovative pain-free needling, LED light therapy, circulation and lymphatic drainage massages. “Microdermabrasion is not just a great way to superficially improve skin appearance, but on its own it's a proven way to naturally stimulate skin's repair mechanisms. Modern technologies allow irritation-free superficial abrasion which can then be followed by microneedling to further stimulate the skin at a deeper levels, and also to enhance the penetration of active ingredients,” she says.
LED light therapy is another great complementary technology, according to Samantha Sands, trainer and therapist at Caci International, which manufactures both Caci and Skinbreeze devices and incorporates microdermabrasion into both. “Red light therapy is brilliant for helping to speed up cell renewal and stimulate collagen to plump the skin, so it gives a real anti-ageing boost,” she says. “We also do a treatment where we start with microdermabrasion to exfoliate and that obviously then helps the products that we use in the microcurrent treatment penetrate deeper in. It’s brilliant for improving the surface of the skin, but by following with the microcurrent, it also helps to tighten and tone the muscles.”
But combining other technologies isn’t just about enhancing results. “We carry out 10 minutes of light therapy if we get a client who is slightly red after their microdermabrasion,” explains Sarah Mills, head of sales and training at Thalgo UK. She says that while a few years ago clients would have expected to leave a salon after a microdermabrasion treatment with a red complexion, that’s no longer necessary. In fact, it’s most probably a turn off for today’s client, used to no down-time, pain-free treatments.
“The way microdermabrasion used to be explained was ‘like sandblasting the skin’. Nobody is going to book in a treatment nowadays if you say that,” adds Mills.
With any treatment, there will always be clients that have a bad experience and label the technology a no-go, although the experts all say that’s down to the fault of the therapist, not the technology. Sands says it’s important to question whether a proper analysis of the skin has been taken and whether the right settings on the device have been used for the treatment.
So is microdermabrasion likely to fall out of favour as new technologies evolve? “Only if something comes along that is even more effective with even less discomfort,” says Moulding. “You can dress it up with whatever name you like but it’s the results that people want.”
Spotlight treatment: Skinbreeze Orbital
What it is: The latest incarnation of the multi-technology device from the manufacturers of Caci, which combines microdermabrasion, ozone therapy, oxygen infusion and LED light therapy. How it works: The treatment begins with microdermabrasion to gently remove dead skin cells from the surface, prepare the skin for the other technologies and enhance the results of the treatment. The new technology in this secondgeneration Skinbreeze device is the O3 ozone therapy, which combines radiofrequency and high-frequency current with oxygen-enriched ozone to help tighten skin as well as target any bacteria living on the skin that can cause conditions such as acne. The oxygen-infusion tip is then used to deliver the active Skinbreeze serums into the deeper layers of the skin, to help nourish cells as well as plump out fine lines and wrinkles and boost the regeneration process. For clients with more sensitive skin, therapists can use the oxygen spray tip instead, which rehydrates skin without aggravating it further. The treatment is finished off with red and blue LED light therapy to stimulate cell renewal and soothe.
Best for: The variety of technologies available means Skinbreeze can target most skincare concerns. The addition of the O3 ozone therapy added skin-tightening and a more advanced treatment to the device’s repertoire, which already included treatments for lines and wrinkles and skin rejuvenation.
The verdict: Machine-based treatments can be daunting, but this was very gentle. Even the new O3 therapy, which I thought might sting a bit, was completely pain-free. Afterwards my skin was beautifully smooth, much brighter, and really hydrated.
Skinbreeze recommends charging £90 for a facial
Left to right:
* Crystal Clear Comcit Elite adds in microdermabrasion to work alongside microneedling, oxygen-infusion and cryotherapy
* Skinbreeze Orbital combines microdermabrasion with O2 therapy, LED light therapy, and O3 Ozone therapy.
* BDR uses microdermabrasion in conjunction with patented pain-free microneedling technology, LED light therapy, circulation and lymphatic drainage massages.
* Thalgo’s Skin Expert machine uses light therapy and microcurrent with microdermabrasion, and combines technology with hands-on therapies.