HydraFacial vs Microdermabrasion: What’s The Difference?

Trying to choose between a HydraFacial and Microdermabrasion? Not sure which one is best for you? Both of these treatments work to improve the appearance and tone of your skin.  

While both help remove dead cells from the top layer of your skin, fade dark spots and give your skin a glow, there are some key differences in how they work. 

HydraFacial and Microdermabrasion differ in that they use different methods to exfoliate the surface of the skin. A HydraFacial exfoliates with gentle acids; then infuses an antioxidant serum into the skin. Microdermabrasion uses an abrasive pad or spray to exfoliate the skin and then a tool to suction off the dead skin cells.

HydraFacial vs Microdermabrasion

HydraFacial Vs Microdermabrasion

This article will explain the pros and cons of each treatment so you can make an informed decision on which one is right for you.

Some of the key differences to consider when deciding between HydraFacial and Microdermabrasion are:

  • method of exfoliation
  • discomfort
  • recovery time
  • cost
  • length of time for treatment
  • availability in your area
  • do you want a one time treatment or a series?

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    What is a HydraFacial?

    A HydraFacial is a brand-name multi-step exfoliating facial.  The provider uses a patented tool to infuse ingredients into the skin as well as suction away dead skin cells, dirt, and debris. Spas and dermatologists must buy the tool and register with the company in order to provide HydraFacials.

    In step one a cleansing solution is applied to the skin with the handheld tool. Then, a mix of salicylic and glycolic acids is applied to the skin to gently exfoliate. In step three suction (called vortex technology) is used to lift away dead skin cells, dirt, and debris. Lastly, an antioxidant and Hyaluronic Acid serum is infused into the skin. Recently, HydraFacial has partnered with several skincare companies to offer a variety of serums based on the patient’s skincare needs. 

    After just one HydraFacial treatment most people report their skin is glowing and smoother. Regular treatments can help with fine lines, brown spots, and uneven skin tone.

    What is Microdermabrasion?

    Microdermabrasion is a procedure in which the provider uses a hand tool to exfoliate the top layers of the skin by either spraying on crystals or using an abrasive pad. The loosened dead skin cells, dirt, and debris are then suctioned away.

    There are two main types of microdermabrasion. The first used a tool with a diamond tip to exfoliate the skin’s surface. The other type, called crystal microdermabrasion, sprays crystals onto the top layer of the skin to exfoliate.

    The benefits of Microdermabrasion are a more even skin tone,  fading age spots, and the reduced appearance of fine lines. Like a HydraFacial, it’s also only available in medical spas and dermatologist offices. 

    Now that we’ve covered the basics of each procedure, let’s compare them in a few different areas.

    ✅ For more information on gentle exfoliation you can do at home, take a look at my Complete Guide to Alpha Hydroxy Acids here.

    Chart showing a comparison of Hydrafacial vs microdermabrasion

    Comparison: Discomfort

    One of the benefits of a HydraFacial is that patients report very little to no discomfort or side effects. There is a slight pull on the skin during the exfoliation but it is often compared to the feeling of a massage. 

    Microdermabrasion is also not usually considered painful and no numbing cream is typically used. It’s often compared to the rough texture of a cat’s tongue. 

    Winner: Tie

    Comparison: Recovery Time

    A HydraFacial has no recovery time and has instant results. Directly upon leaving the office the skin is glowing and calm.  This is why HydraFacial is often the treatment of choice before a big event where you want to look your best.

    After microdermabrasion, your skin may be red or irritated if you have a more sensitive skin type. However, there is no downtime like there would be after an invasive treatment such as laser treatments or a chemical peel. It’s best not to do a microdermabrasion session immediately before an important event, just in case you have some redness. 

    It’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays after either treatment. The fresh, younger-looking skin that is now uncovered will be particularly susceptible to sun damage. Use sunscreen with both UVB and UVA protection every morning and reapply during the day (which is something we all should do every day anyway).

    Winner: HydraFacial

    Comparison: Price

    A HydraFacial is typically priced between $175 and $300. With prices being on the higher end of the range in larger cities. The treatment usually takes between 30 and 45 minutes.

    Microdermabrasion is typically between $75 and $150 and often takes about one hour.

    Discounts can often be found if you buy a package of multiple treatments. 

    If you only have minor sun damage or fine lines you may want just one treatment to brighten up your complexion.

    But if you have hyperpigmentation, melasma, or more severe sun damage your skin care professional may recommend a series of treatments. They also may recommend a more intensive treatment such as a chemical peel or laser treatment in addition to or in place of a HydraFacial or Microdermabrasion.

    Winner: Microdermabrasion

    woman receiving microdermabrasion

    Comparison: Who Should Not Get a HydraFacial or Microdermabrasion Treatment

    Both Microdermabrasion and HydraFacial are safe for most people, even those with sensitive skin types. However, if you suffer from a skin condition such as rosacea or eczema you may want to avoid both treatments as they could cause further irritation.

    Both treatments are also suitable for all skin tones, a big benefit over more invasive treatment such as lasers, which often can’t be used on darker skin tones.

    Winner: Tie

    Final thoughts on Hydrafacial vs Dermabrasion

    After taking a closer look, neither HydraFacial nor Microdermabrasion is clearly better than the other.  Both are effective and relatively inexpensive compared to more invasive procedures such as chemical peels or lasers. 

    If you’re on a budget then microdermabrasion may be the better choice as it’s commonly less expensive. And if you have extremely sensitive skin or have never undergone an in-office procedure before, then HydraFacial may be better as it’s the more mild option.

    I really think you can’t go wrong with either one!

    If it’s in your budget why not try both? Then you can continue with the one you find has the best results for you.

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