Beauty-care companies offer microdermabrasion kits you can use in your own bathroom for less money and none of the inconvenience of a doctor's visit.
Many of the products come with the cosmetic version of an orbital sander -- a battery-operated resurfacing tool; others require that you use your fingers to do the buffing.
Our testers loved these kits and achieved nice results after the first few uses. But be cautious: People with sensitive or acne-prone skin may need to use the products less often than the instructions indicate. (Our testers with acne-prone skin experienced breakouts.) And some people shouldn't use them at all -- for example, those taking blood thinners or using Retin-A. Check packages for other warnings.
A 'road test' of microdermabrasion kits
The product: Clean+Easy Microdermabrasion Professional System
The promise: Minimizes fine lines and pore size; reduces effects of sun damage and acne scarring.
How it works: The resurfacing tool has several attachments for working in the cleanser, crystal cream with corundum (aluminum oxide) and massage cream. Can be used once or twice a week; once per week is recommended for those with sensitive skin.
Comments: With four products and three attachments, it was a little daunting for our tester, but she liked the results. "My skin felt smoother after each treatment," she said.
The product: DermaNew Facial Rejuvenation System
The promise: Smooths and refines skin, diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
How it works: A tool is used to apply the corundum cream (with two sizes of crystals, antioxidant green-tea and grapeseed extracts, and an Ayurvedic herb to decrease redness). Meant to be used for five days, then stopped for five.
Comments: The vibrating tool gave our tester an unpleasant "buzz," so she couldn't use it for the five to 10 minutes per treatment the company recommends. But her results got her compliments.
The product: Estee Lauder Idealist Micro-D Deep Thermal Refinisher*
The promise: Provides up to 68 percent improvement in skin clarity; reduces pore appearance.
How it works: The exfoliating cream, containing microcrystalline, jade and bamboo beads, heats up when you apply it to damp skin (thanks to calcium chloride). No tool; the cream is worked in with fingertips. Meant to be used once or twice a week.
Comments: "I felt like I was getting a facial from some high-priced salon," said our tester, who said that her skin looked smoother and felt softer afterward.
The product: HoMedics FacialSpa Ultra Cleansing and Microdermabrasion System
The promise: Gentle exfoliating crystals reveal healthier- and younger-looking skin.
How it works: The tool has seven attachments and four cleansers and creams containing ingredients such as vitamin E, citric acid (vitamin C), aloe and aluminum oxide crystals for exfoliation. No instructions for frequency of use.
Comments: "It worked," said our tester. "I have younger- and healthier-looking skin: fewer blackheads and breakouts and smaller pores. I feel like I gave myself a treat. I'm hooked."
The product: DermaNew Facial Rejuvenation System...
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