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Microbrasion, the next cosmetic procedure


Microdermabrasion, the process of removing dead skin by abrasion has become the latest rage, looks set to become the next big cosmetics procedures as more and more people plumb for ways of reducing ageing without going under the knife, reports Simon Pitman.

According to Datamonitor's database skincare manufacturers introduced 32 new microdermabrasion products in the US between 2003 and 2004, compared with just five products for the preceding three years.

The trend also falls in line with the increasing number of consumers going for at-home cosmetic procedures in an effort to save on time and money. Likewise interest among men is also rising, perhaps because carrying out the procedure at home is less embarrassing.

More than one million Americans underwent microdermabrasion in 2004, a non-surgical cosmetic procedure that has mushroomed in popularity in recent years. Now the fourth most popular type of non-surgical cosmetic procedure, microdermabrasion was a major factor behind a 51 percent increase in non-surgical cosmetic procedures in 2004 according to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).

Microdermabrasion is the process of removing dead skin by abrasion. Abrasion is typically provided by tiny crystals that are applied to the skin to remove the top layer of dead skin.

At-home kits start from around $20 and are now available from a number of companies in the US market, including Dermanew, TYK, Donnell and Neova.

The procedure itself is mechanical as opposed to the chemical-based procedure one may experience with a chemical peel and is somewhat like using a gentle sandblaster on the skin. The result is the removal of dead and damaged surface skin cells. Removing these skin cells can reveal smoother and softer skin. The process itself is said to help stimulate circulation and can increase blood flow to the skin while encouraging the production of collagen.

Typically performed in a series of treatments, microdermabrasion is claimed to help remove fine lines and age spots from aging or sun-damaged skin. Since the procedure can be done in as little as 15 minutes and is non-invasive, this means that when carried out by a professional it can be scheduled during a lunch hour.

The recent entry of companies like L'Oreal and Neutrogena into the microdermabrasion niche could bode well for the future of the at-home sector of the market. L'Oreal launched its Dermo-Expertise ReFinish Micro-Dermabrasion Kit in the fall of 2004. The two-step regimen includes an Exfoliator that uses professional grade aluminum oxide crystals to remove dead skin.

At-home kits start from around $20 and are available from a number of companies other than L'Oreal in the US market, including Dermanew, TYK, Donnell and Neova.

Neutrogena recently launched its own microdermabrasion kit under the Advanced Solutions at Home banner. The firm's Microdermabrasion System carries a suggested retail price of $49.99 and contains Micro-Oxide Crystalized Cream as well as a battery-operated applicator.

Though women account for 90 percent of surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, interest among men is rising rapidly. The number of cosmetic procedures performed on men increased 306 percent from 1997 to 2004, according to the ASAPS.

Coinciding with this trend is the recent introduction of the Men's Microdermabrasion and Close Shave Formula Skin Resurfacing System from Woodbury, NY-based What's Hot! Developed exclusively for men, the product is marketed as a pre-shave preparation that aims to provide 'just shaved smoothness'.

"The more general skincare category of exfoliating scrubs, which encompasses many microdermabrasion products, has emerged as one of the sweet spots in the US skincare market, " said Tom Vierhile, executive editor of Productscan Online. "According to Datamonitor, sales of exfoliating scrub products are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 9 per cent over the next four years, three times the growth rate of the overall skincare market."

In a forthcoming study, Datamonitor will look at the impact of microdermabrasion products and the impact they will have on the skincare industry as a whole.

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