Dermaplaning and Microdermabrasion – What’s the Difference?

Dermaplaning and microdermabrasion are basically both forms of mechanical exfoliation, a full explanation of which is given in detail in our Complete Guide to Skin Exfoliation.

Briefly, the purpose of exfoliation is to remove the build up of dead skin cells and oils that make up the surface layer of skin, to clear blocked pores and follicles.


The Process

Dermaplaning involves removing the surface layer of skin using a scalpel with a very sharp, fine, surgical grade blade.  Holding the blade at a 45º degree angle the skin is carefully scraped away.  During the process any vellus hair (fine, peach fuzz) is also removed from the face.

Although this sounds like a rather drastic and potentially painful procedure, as you can see from the video, it is actually very safe and painless.  

Carried out correctly by a skilled and qualified aesthetician, nurse or doctor, dermaplaning is a relatively gentle and quick treatment. 


Dermaplaning rejuvenates tired, dull, dry or flaky skin caused by the build up of dead skin cells and debris.  As the skin ages and its cells are replenished more slowly, dermaplaning can be particularly useful.

It can also improve the complexion for those with irregular skin tones and reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles and mild acne scars.

As the process uses a blade, it has the added benefit of removing any fine facial hair on the face, to leave a clear, smooth finish.

Woman Face

Foundation makeup has a tendency to show up fine facial hair which dermaplaning will therefore alleviate.  Makeup will go on easier and give a smoother more even finish.

Another advantage of dermaplaning is that, as the pores are cleared, skincare products such as moisturizers and serums are more easily and thoroughly absorbed for maximum benefit.

To see the best results, it is recommended that you have a series of 6 treatments initially, with ongoing regular sessions every month to 6 weeks.

Dermaplaning - Isn't it Just Shaving?

You could be forgiven for thinking that dermaplaning is just a glorified name for shaving your face, but actually there is a big difference.

Woman shaving shave face facial shaving

The blade used is surgical grade and extremely sharp. It is therefore much better performed by a skilled professional than attempted at home.

Dermaplaning is only suitable if you have very fine facial hair and not for individuals with hirsutism; those with thick, dark or dense facial hair.

The sole purpose of shaving the face is to remove the hair.   Conversely, the purpose of dermaplaning is rather to remove the surface layer of the skin.   The removal of vellus hair is therefore a byproduct of this.

Side Effects?

Side effects are virtually non-existent, the only possibility being a very temporary slight redness and dryness.  The process simply removes a superficial surface layer of dead skin and uses no chemicals.  Consequently dermaplaning is actually much more gentle than you might imagine.


The newly revealed skin will be more sensitive to the sun, so you should be even more vigilant than usual with your use of sunscreen.


The Process

Microdermabrasion is also used to remove the surface layer of dead skin cells but, as the name suggests, uses an abrasive method.  There are two types of microdermabrasion machine, the original crystal or the newer diamond tip.

Crystal Microdermabrasion

microdermabrasion woman face

The crystal microdermabrasion method uses a sandblasting type effect.  It has a pump to shoot microscopic crystal chips, typically aluminium oxide, onto the skin to dislodge the cells, whilst at the same time a vacuum sucks up the debris.

There are no chemicals used and aluminium oxide is non allergic, non toxic and non carcinogenic.

It is important to protect the eyes from stray crystals during this process, and you will be given protective goggles.  It is obviously therefore not a suitable method for use on the skin directly around the eyes.

Diamond Microdermabrasion

The diamond method uses fine, microscopic diamond particles on a stainless steel tip to remove the dead skin, whilst still maintaining the vacuum.

There are a range of tips with finer or coarser particles, depending on skin type and how aggressive the treatment required.

Diamond microdermabrasion has some advantages over the crystal method and is gradually replacing it as the most common type of machine preferred.

What's the Difference?



A little more aggressive than diamond tip

Machine can become clogged if any moisture present

Cannot be used around the eyes and goggles need to be worn

Preferable for sensitive skin

More precise - can be used on the skin around the eye area


Both crystal and diamond microdermabrasion rejuvenates the skin and improves the appearance of fine wrinkles, mild acne, scarring and uneven skin tones.

The vacuum used to suck up the dead skin cells and used crystals can also have the effect of removing blackheads and reducing enlarged pores.

Similar to dermaplaning, the process  allows easier penetration of skincare products.

It is recommended that a series of 5 treatments be carried out to see the best results.

Side Effects?

It is fairly normal to experience some superficial reddening of the skin post treatment.

There may also be some peeling and dryness a few days later, which  can be alleviated by using a hydrating, soothing product such as Credentials Skin Recovery Creme or Mesoestetic Post Procedure Fast Skin Repair.

The new skin will be more sensitive to the sun and a good, high factor sunscreen should be used diligently.

How to Choose?

This is the $64,000 question, and is a difficult one to answer.

In order to try to help you decide we have first taken a look at the similarities and then the differences.

which way choose


  • Results - both microdermabrasion and dermaplaning have a similar exfoliant action, improving the appearance of fine wrinkles, mild acne and scarring, uneven skin tones and dullness of the skin.
  • Transient Side Effects - any side effects are mild and short-lived from either treatment.
  • No Chemicals - neither treatment uses any chemicals.
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    Non - Invasive - both are superficial and non- invasive methods of exfoliation
  • Cost - the costs are similar, ranging from around $65 - $150 for a single session for the face, depending on a number of factors including the area you live in and whether you are including other treatments such as peels, which are often carried out at the same time.  A discounted per session price is commonly offered when a course of treatments are booked.
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    Ongoing Treatments - for best results, both require an initial course of treatments with ongoing maintenance.




Abrasive - scrubs the skin to remove the surface layer with a similar effect to sandpaper

Non - abrasive - gently scrapes the skin to remove the dead skin cells, similar action to shaving

Pores and Blackheads - the sucking action of the pump can improve the look of enlarged pores and remove blackheads

Removes vellus hair - along with the dead skin cells, removes the fine peach fuzz hairs for smoother application of make-up

Vacuum - means that it is not suitable for some skin types e.g. rosacea, because of the risk of worsening by its sucking action

Rosacea - can be used to improve the appearance of rosacea and some other mild skin conditions and dryness

At Home Option - there are devices on the market nowadays for carrying out microdermabrasion at home if you wish, although we would recommend professional treatments and advice, at least to begin with

Professional Treatment - you need to see a qualified professional aesthetician, nurse or doctor


For the past 12 months, I have been testing and playing with all sorts of hair removal products for Hair Free Life. My goal is to provide the most accurate and up-to-date hair removal consumer information on the internet. When I'm not photographing, reviewing and researching hair removal products I play the drums in a samba band and am a volunteer for the Swindon Lions! Got any questions? Write to us below: