Avon is currently pushing its Anew Advanced Dermabrasion System and, being a recent convert to salon administered (very judiciously given I have sensitive skin) microdermabrasion, I was curious as to how a home treatment - delivered in a cream form - would work. Having taken a close look at Avon Anew Advanced Dermabrasion System, I wouldn't use it if Avon paid me.

Frankly, I believe that Avon must have put far more money into researching the dispenser on the tube than on the paltry contents of the cream. The idea is that the tube dispenses different 'levels' of product. You start with level 1, a couple of times a week for two weeks before proceeding to the next level. It takes eight weeks to complete the four levels then you take a break for a few weeks before starting over again at level 1.

The best thing that I can say about the content of a tube of Avon Anew Advanced Dermabrasion System is that it is based on the kinds of things that are used to polish teeth. The key ingredient is alumina (aluminium oxide), an abrasive that is much less expensive than diamond and is used in sandpaper and as a polishing agent in some toothpastes. Now, you could argue that if it is safe enough to put in your mouth, you'd be OK about putting it on your face. Yet, it seems to me that there is a pretty significant difference between enamel and skin.

There is also a couple of possibly nasty, certainly controversial ingredients.

One is sodium hydroxide, which the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says can even at "very low levels" irritate skin and eyes. There is something called dicaprylyl maleate that has been linked to allergies (although probably rarely) and phosporic acid, which is used as an etcher by dentists to clean and roughen the surface of the teeth before appliances or fillings are placed (mostly it is used in fertilizers).

I was excited to see a plant extract, crataegus monogina, thinking this may be some kind of powerful anti-oxidant. In fact, the purpose of this ingredient is to dilate the blood vessels.

Apart from panthenol, a hydrating vitamin B, and bisabolol, an anti-inflammatory (thankfully), all the other ingredients are preservatives and emulsifiers and stabilizers (without which it would look like unshaken salad dressing).

Microdermabrasion is a serious treatment. In fact, any kind of intense exfoliation should be approached with caution. During a microdermabrasion treatment, a trained esthetician gently puts a diamond tip against the skin. This abrades the skin removing the dead skin cells and breaking up some of the cells of the outer layer of skin. The
body interprets that as a mild injury and rushes to replace the lost
skin cells with new and healthy ones.

The problem (and one of the reasons not to overdo this process with stuff that your dentist would use for an entirely different purpose) is that skin cells don't renew themselves indefinitely because of something called the Hayflick Limit.