dermatologist vs estheticianI recently had a couple of clients tell me that their dermatologist didn’t recommend certain services for their client’s skin, specifically microdermabrasion. While I completely respect these medical professionals’ opinion, I believe there is a misunderstanding on how we (estheticians) care for our clients’ skin and how dermatologists treat their patients. Estheticians are NOT doctors, therefore, we cannot diagnose skin conditions, perform surgery (make incisions to the skin), or prescribe medication. However, we are able to make superficial adjustments to the appearance of the skin which can meet our clients’ needs. As the old saying goes, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”, and that is what I want our clients to understand.

Microdermabrasion is a form of mechanical exfoliation that benefits the epidermis similar to those provided by alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) treatments (Gerson, 2013). A tool is used to slough off the dead and dull surface layers of the skin, stimulating an increase in collagen production and rejuvenation. Many clients see dramatic improvements in the tone, texture, and color of treated areas after just one treatment. Microdermabrasion can also improve oily, uneven or dull skin. Again, the effects are more superficial, so a series of this service is highly recommended.

Prescribed pills, creams and ointments may help control your skin issue, but there are alternative ways to maintain the health of your skin.

One of my clients with milia (small, firm papules with no visible opening; whitish, pearl like masses of sebum and dead cells under the skin) told me that her dermatologist said that microdermabrasion wouldn’t help because her skin would grow more layers. Well, as long as you’re living, your skin cells will turn over and replenish at LEAST every 30 days depending on how old you are, but the goal is to get rid of that old dead skin so your newer skin can come through, optimizing it’s appearance.

My client’s dermatologist recommended retinol, also known as vitamin A. Retinol has been found to stimulate collagen production and is used in some acne treatments. Vitamin A supports the overall health of the skin, aiding in the functioning and repairing of skin cells. It can be ingested or used topically. Like with everything else, too much of it can be extremely harmful. Since the body stores vitamin A, consuming too much of it can result in Vitamin A toxicity (Gerson, 2013). This condition can result in hair loss, severely dry lips, and damage to the organs such as the liver and spleen. It is advised that people should take no more than 15,000 retinol equivalents per day.

Point being, there’s nothing wrong with finding a happy medium within your skin treatments. Although retinol may help your acne issue, it may not provide a healthy, dewy glow that microdermabrasion can provide. The objective is to get rid of the acne. Although I personally prefer pushing the toxins and bacteria out of my body, others may be content with suppressing the toxins within. Neither choice is wrong. Estheticians are mainly focused on promoting healthy skin from the exterior using a non-medical approach. Prescribed pills, creams and ointments may help control your skin issue, but there are alternative ways to maintain the health of your skin. – Fatimah K.


Gerson, J. (2013), Milady Fundamentals Esthetics. Cengage Learning. ISBN-13: 978-1-111-30689-2