microdermabrasion treatment systems

Microdermabrasion Crystals

Although crystal-free microdermabrasion is becoming increasingly popular, the majority of microdermabrasion machines and home microdermabrasion kits still operate using crystals. This page provides information on the four most commonly used crystals in microdermabrasion treatment:

  1. Aluminium oxide
  2. Sodium bicarbonate
  3. Sodium chloride
  4. Magnesium oxide

Using microdermabrasion crystals­


microdermabrasion_crystalsMicrodermabrasion crystals are the key ingredient in the microdermabrasion process that are responsible for exfoliating your facial or body skin. Crystals are usually bought in large quantities and loaded into cartridges that fit onto the microdermabrasion equipment. When the machine is turned on the microdermabrasion crystals are fed from the cartridge into the microdermabrasion tubing, wand and tip until they make contact with your skin.

Microdermabrasion crystals are then sucked back into the machine and deposited in another cartridge before being disposed of.

Performing microdermabrasion with aluminium oxide crystals isn’t dangerous if your treatment provider is trained and you follow some basic safety precautions:

  • Cover nostrils
  • Cover eyes

Nostrils need only be covered when microdermabrasion crystals are being applied near the nose. Your eyes should be closed and covered throughout the entire microdermabrasion treatment.

Aluminium oxide microdermabrasion crystals

Aluminium oxide is a natural metal compound found in the earth. Although aluminium oxide can come in a variety of different colours including red and green, the crystals used in microdermabrasion are almost always white and sometimes brown. Aluminium oxide crystals or corundum crystals as they are sometimes known in the microdermabrasion industry possess several special qualities which make them particularly good for microdermabrasion:

  • Hard
  • Rough
  • Cheap
  • Light
  • Anti- bacterial

Aluminium oxide is one of the hardest known materials, second only to diamonds. In fact, jewels such as rubies and sapphires are actually forms of aluminium oxide. This hardness makes them well suited for microdermabrasion as they are strong enough to be blasted onto the skin without fragmenting.

Aluminium oxide crystals used in microdermabrasion have rough jagged surfaces. This makes them excellent for abrading against and exfoliating the top layer of facial skin.

Aluminium oxide microdermabrasion crystals are cheap which makes it easy to buy them in large quantities.

Microdermabrasion crystals made from aluminium oxide are much lighter than other metallic crystals. This means they can be blasted through microdermabrasion machines easily without applying too much air pressure.

The anti- bacterial properties of aluminium oxide microdermabrasion crystals make them particularly effective at treating acne.

Choosing microdermabrasion crystals

If you are considering professional microdermabrasion treatment with aluminium oxide crystals, whether it’s for acne scars or stretch marks, you’ll want to ask your microdermabrasion clinic about:

  • Purity
  • Size

The purity of microdermabrasion crystals is an important part of the treatment. Microdermabrasion crystals should be at least 99.4% pure. Microdermabrasion crystals usually contain tiny amounts of other material such as silica which remain in the crystals despite a lengthy purification process to make them fit for microdermabrasion purposes. This involves melting and re crystallising the aluminium oxide up to eight times.

Size is the other important factor in using microdermabrasion crystals. Crystals between 100-120 microns are considered good for microdermabrasion. The larger the size of microdermabrasion crystal the more harsh the process will be. A professional who has received microdermabrasion training will be able to select the best crystal size to suit your individual needs based on your condition.

Microdermabrasion crystals risks

Although there has been some recent controversy in the microdermabrasion industry regarding the safety of aluminium oxide, the traditional belief has been these microdermabrasion crystals are safe because they are non toxic and there is no possibility of a chemical reaction with the skin.

The main risk associated with aluminium oxide microdermabrasion crystals is the possibility of accidental inhalation which may cause some temporary respiratory problems. However, professional microdermabrasion is designed to be closed circuit, which means that the microdermabrasion crystals should never be let into the air around you. The only chance of this happening is if your microdermabrasion treatment provider makes a mistake which is rare.

The main source of controversy surrounding aluminium oxide microdermabrasion crystals is that a number of practitioners complain of symptoms such as itchy eyes and throat, breathing problems or headaches. While the jury is still out on this one, it’s important to remember that only people who come into regular prolonged contact with these microdermabrasion crystals have made these complaints. If you are a patient considering a few treatments, don’t let the microdermabrasion crystals put you off.

Sodium bicarbonate microdermabrasion crystals

microdermabrasion_crystals_sodiumSodium bicarbonate is increasingly being seen as an alternative to traditional metal based microdermabrasion crystals. Proponents of sodium bicarbonate microdermabrasion crystals point to a number of benefits:

  • Organic
  • Water soluble
  • Neutral ph balance
  • Soothing
  • Antiseptic

Sodium bicarbonate microdermabrasion crystals are organic which means once it’s disposed of it decomposes naturally. While this doesn’t give you better skin it’s helpful for the environment

Microdermabrasion crystals made from Sodium bicarbonate are water soluble. This means if you have any stuck on your face after the microdermabrasion treatment, you can just wash them off.

The neutral ph balance of these microdermabrasion crystals means they will not irritate the skin. In fact sodium bicarbonate has soothing qualities which will make your skin feel better.

Similar to traditional microdermabrasion crystals, sodium bicarbonate crystals possess antiseptic qualities helping to kill off bacteria that contribute to acne.

It’s important to remember that despite it’s chemical sounding name, sodium bicarbonate is actually baking soda, which we use in our toothpaste every day!

Aluminium Vs Sodium microdermabrasion crystals

No definitive comparative studies have been carried out between these two microdermabrasion crystals making it impossible to say one is better. Aluminium and sodium microdermabrasion crystals each have their advantages:

Sodium microdermabrasion crystals are lighter. This means it takes less air pressure to deliver them to the skin. Too much air pressure can contribute to post treatment redness and soreness.

Aluminium oxide microdermabrasion crystals are harder, which indicates that they may be more suitable for heavy microdermabrasion treatment such as deep acne scars.