Microdermabrasion facial vs chemical peels? What’s the difference? This week’s installment of Biohack Beauty gives the lowdown on exfoliation…and why you absolutely must do it right.
Microdermabrasion facial was created as a gentler alternative to chemical peels and dermabrasion in 1985. We’ve come a long way since.
Exfoliation is one of the most misunderstood steps in skincare routines. Decades ago, facial scrubs with abrasive beads were marketed as a cure for flaky, dull skin.
There are several issues here:
@drteowanlin How to exfoliate your skin Nourishing Brown Mask Peel A Bioactive Mask Peel for Skin Resilience [Aquaporin Upregulation] Intensive Barrier Repair [Adaptogenic Properties] Resilience [Anti-inflammatory] Calms Redness & Sensitivity #dermatologistskincare #sgdoctor #tiktoksg #viraltiktok #exfoliateyourskin #dermatologist ♬ original sound – Dermatologist Dr.TWL – Dr.TWL Dermatologist
Firstly, skin cells actually “exfoliate” naturally—at its own time. The movement of skin cells from bottom layers to the surface, is also known as cell differentiation, which occurs during the skin cycle. The trouble is with aging, the skin cycle lengthens. The layer known as the stratum corneum accumulates dead skin cells—that’s when skin looks dull.
The Wrong Way to Exfoliate
So beauty brands came up with ways to get rid of dead skin—literally by scrubbing it off.
Sadly, that’s not how skin works. By scrubbing skin down like sandpapering wood, skin actually gets irritated. It turns red, before it starts to flake and finally. It becomes angry.
Skin’s revenge dress (if the scrubbing goes on long enough)
That’s not the end of the story. When the dust settles (just call it dead skin)—she actually decides to grow new skin cells. But it’s not what we wanted. Instead of fresh, baby soft skin, you get layers of thickened, dark skin. What dermatologists term at first as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH for short) becomes lichenification—the development of a tree bark-like skin texture.
@drteowanlin How To Glow Up in 1 Day Dermatologist Edit- Let’s get to the root cause of dull skin, So we all desire skin radiance translucency elasticity clarity by the way. That’s me too. You must first understand one thing- dull skin is caused by a combination of factors. First, external factors like PM2.5 pollutants, UV damage all cause free radical stress also known as surface aging. At the epidermis,the first layer of skin, dead skin cells also accumulate, known as retention hyperkeratosis, lack of moisture can also cause dull skin. At the second layer, collagen loss and antioxidant depletion occurs with age, worsening the problem. The all-in-1 copper peel comprises of 3 stages Stage one: hydrodermabrasion with antioxidant essences, which essentially is using the power of vacuum to gently physically exfoliate and infuse antioxidants into the skin. Stage 2: You apply the peptide based gel mask included in the kit and microcrystalline copper ions begin to stimulate collagen production while resurfacing skin. The peptides also have a wrinkle-smoothing effect, as they relax the facial muscles and also act as natural Antimicrobial peptides, known as AMPS—that help build a healthy skin microbiome. Actives like vitamin C and propolis further creates the ideal skin healing microclimate for optimal results. Get my free newsletter Skincare Blueprint: Glow Up From Within & skincare routine checklists customised to your skin type 👆🏻 How to glow up in 1 day How to glow up in 1 week #instantglowingskin #sgdoctor #dermatologist #sgtiktok #instantglowing #instantglowup #homefacial ♬ original sound – Dermatologist Dr.TWL – Dr.TWL Dermatologist
Enter Chemical Peels
Glycolic, lactic and salicylic acids are must-haves in a dermatologist’s office. For a good reason—these actually do exfoliate in a way that doesn’t damage skin barrier the way physical scrubs do. Chemical peel acids work at a microscopic level, which means it specifically dissolves the bonds between the surface skin cells known as corneocytes. The result? Renewed, baby soft, smooth skin that will make you glow and others too—with envy.
The downsides to chemical peels: side effects are real
Sun sensitivity occurs commonly with chemical peels. As does skin irritation i.e. redness, flaking—as a result of a disrupted skin barrier. The concentration of the peel acid, the duration it’s left on skin affects how intense the effects are. Hence, higher concentration peels (the most effective) must be performed under medical supervision.
The microdermabrasion facial miracle
So when microdermabrasion came on the scene, it was celebrated as a gentler alternative to medium/deep chemical peels, sans side effects. A technology based on crystal/diamond resurfacing, microdermabrasion facial combined the benefits of vacuum assisted topical delivery with skin resurfacing to enhance absorption. But boy, was it messy. It wasn’t as straightforward as the inventors had made it out to be—crystals flying around…even in the crystal-free systems aka diamond microdermabrasion, it still required skill operators in-office and took 30-60 minutes.
Enter new gen microdermabrasion facial systems
In the mid 2010s, Korean medi-facials took off with vacuum only skin resurfacing techniques which focused on minimal epidermal disruption and maximum antioxidant delivery.
Home Face Peel that Works:
A microdermabrasion facial system for sensitive skin types
Dr.TWL Biomaterials Copper Peel System was launched in 2020 as a revolutionary copper oxide based microcrystalline handpiece with the ability to exfoliate, infuse and repair the skin barrier all at once. Designed for use with the 360 Amino Acid Gel Mask, it delivers a suite of benefits in a single application
- Peptides for anti-wrinkle effects
- AMPs as a natural microbiome stabiliser
- Propolis for anti-inflammatory, antioxidant shield
- Adaptogens for skin resilience
Want radiant skin? Remember to exfoliate—correctly.
Get the Dr.TWL At-Home Face Peel Set.
Bite-Sized Beauty features visuals, skincare hacks and skin science in short form. Written by Dr Teo Wan Lin, author of Skincare Bible: Dermatologist’s Tips on Cosmeceutical Skincare, a complete beauty bible in an easy-to-read FAQ style. Subscribe to Skincare Blueprint: Glow Up From Within for insider tips on skincare routines. Discover skincare courses by Dr.Teo Wan Lin.Tags: ~All Topics, Chemical Peel, Microdermabrasion, Skincare Tips