Free shipping on all domestic orders over $39

PMD Personal Microderm at-home microdermabrasion device

June 15, 2012 Reviewed by TIA Community Member 9 Comments

I have been using the PMD Personal Microderm System ($179), an at-home use microdermabrasion device weekly for the past month. I had given my skin a full month to properly regenerate after a professional microdermabrasion treatment prior to starting use of the PMD System to ensure a fair review of the product. As a licensed esthetician, I have generally felt that some treatments should not be performed at home and are best left to professionals who have received specialized training. While microdermabrasion may be a common treatment, it’s not to be taken lightly and can seriously damage skin if not performed properly. Moreover, I rarely read directions myself prior to using any device I purchase for home use, thus I (perhaps unfairly) expect similar behavior patterns in other consumers. However, results reported by all three TIA testers of the PaloVia Skin Renewing Laser ($499) have made me reconsider any initial misgivings, and I was very much open to trying out the PMD. That said, let me preempt this review by saying that the PMD is a powerful little gadget and should be used with great care.

The PMD is a plug-in handheld apparatus and includes an instructional pamphlet along with a training DVD (in which the esthetician is an eerie dead ringer for Denise Richards) just under 10 minutes long. Although the machine has a simple on/off switch and seems fairly straightforward to use, it would be a mistake to use it without prior instruction. Prior to sending me the devic, PMD had made it clear that it was imperative to watch the training DVD. However, I went beyond that and mined PMD’s site for as much information as possible prior to use. That said, the most useful video I found was the demonstration video, which unfortunately was buried in the web manual under the “How to Use” tab on the site. I found the demonstration to be extremely helpful and wish it had been included as part of the training DVD.

The PMD System is a hybrid of professional crystal and diamond microdermabrasion tips. Like professional machines, PMD uses aluminum oxide crystals; however, it does not spray the crystals. Rather, the crystals make up a flat, sandy disc, similar to a professional diamond-tipped head. The PMD is equipped with a white training disc to test initial tolerance, and there are three options available based on skin tolerance: sensitive (blue) and medium (green) and maximum strength (red - not included). In addition, the kit includes both small and large discs for use on the face and body, respectively. The PMD also uses suction or a vacuum action that serves to pull the skin closer to the sandy disc in order to abrade the skin and remove dead skin cells. However, unlike on professional machines, the amount of suction cannot be controlled.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of good advice on the training DVD, such as testing the device on the inner arm prior to use and never performing more than two passes. It’s also important that the skin is absolutely dry prior to exfoliation and to stretch the skin out with your free hand while using the device. I was also happy to hear it all reiterated by Denise Richards’ look-alike, something I think is key (the reiteration part). I can’t comment on the PMD Regeneration System products, which include the company’s cleanser, toner and moisturizer as I did not use these products. However, if you decide not to use the PMD products, it’s essential to choose your products with care. PMD advises using a toner post treatment, but keep in mind that most toners are meant to strip skin of oils, which can throw off your skin’s natural pH and only sensitize just-exfoliated skin.

I found the exfoliation to be somewhat uneven due to the design of the headpiece as it comes closer in contact with skin on the curvier areas of the face. So I didn’t get the same abrasion on flatter areas, like my forehead, as I did on my cheekbones. I noted that many reviewers have reported red streaks or welts, especially along the cheekbone area, which makes sense to me because of the curvatures there. Like professional microdermabrasion, the frequency of use will really vary based on your skin type and conditions. While I wouldn’t say that the PMD can compete with a professional microdermabrasion machine, I would avoid it if professional treatments don’t suit you as this is still a very potent little device. I would discourage using it altogether if you have sensitive skin or suffer from rosacea. The PMD can certainly be useful if you have acne or crater-like scars, but it’s still important to use it carefully and not overdo it. Overall, I found the device to be relatively effective at exfoliating my skin and will continue to use it.

  • November 10, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi Kaitlyn, the PMD is really intended to exfoliate aging skin and wouldn't be appropriate for you. For treating acne and breakouts, we recommend blue LED light. You can see more here:

  • November 10, 2014

    by Kaitlyn

    I am a 15 year old female, I was wondering is this product, meant for young teens? I have oily/acne prone skin. I'm not sure if i have sensitive skin. Please help. Thanks!

  • July 20, 2013

    by Marta

    I have used this twice now and I am impressed by how sturdy, well made and powerful this is. Of course, nothing like professional level (but in my unprofessional hands that's probably a good thing). No redness or irritation and early effects are softer skin. I will wait a few more weeks before writing a full review.

  • June 5, 2013

    by Aleigha

    How old should you generally be to use PMD?
    If I'm still a teenager 16, can it do damage to my skin? I have a little bit of redness around my t-zone, and a bit of discolouration.
    Please help! Thank you :)

  • July 23, 2012

    by Ashely

    I was looking to purchase this Product helping me out with my Rolling acne scars/ Holes ... I wanted to know would this Help better the appearance of It ... Cause I have Clear skin I just Need to Better it because I Had Severe Acne & Now the Acne left be the Holes Remain .... Anybody plz

  • July 22, 2012

    by Heidi

    Thank you for this review, and for the comments. I have used the PMD device correctly for 2 treatments, but after my 2nd used (yesterday) red streaks appeared on my cheek bones and smile lines, and it alarmed me a little. They're not open so I"m hoping in a few days they'll go away. Reading here, has reduced my concern some, since it' happened to other women.

  • July 1, 2012

    by Nisha Buckingham

    Hi Danyel,
    It’s important to ensure that skin is completely clean & dry prior to treatment so an outstanding cleanser is essential prior to treatment. A product with excellent skin calming properties should ideally be used post-treatment. Estheticians apply a mask (based on skin type) after microdermabrasion as masks are concentrated and will penetrate better after exfoliation. I would recommend doing the same at home if you are using a device such as the PMD.

    I personally used HydroPeptide's Gentle Cleanse Cleansing Gel which is also what I use on clients in-spa. It's not inexpensive ($44) but it's a cleanser, makeup remover & toner all in one. While it does contain lactic acid, you'd wouldn’t know it as it's so well buffered & gentle. Yet the formulation is still effective at removing dirt & makeup (I always perform two full cleansing swipes prior to treatments like microdermabrasion to ensure all traces of dirt/makeup have been removed). Moreover, the gel formulation evaporates quickly, without drying out skin, which makes it ideal for use prior to microdermabrasion as skin must be dry prior to treatment. A cream cleanser may leave some “slip” which you don’t want . Moreover, a little of this gel goes a long way. The bottle is 6.76 oz so for twice daily use, it’ll last a while.

    A good mask for you to try is Lather’s Sea Kelp & Ginseng mask (which I also used) as you mentioned you have combination oily skin with flakiness. It’s a great soothing gel with ingredients to address your specific needs. It has thyme extract which is helpful in drying oily, blocked pore and also contains hops extract which treats dry flakes and smooths texture. You can even apply just a thin layer of the sea kelp mask all over your face to soothe skin and then spot treat your cheeks with something heavier over it to address the flakes. Lather’s Honey Moisture Mask is a good option as the formula has outstanding moisturizers that are also good for oily/sensitive skin. Or you could try a cream or ointment like Purepotions Skin Salvation Moisturizing Ointment which may help to alleviate the flaking.

    (Note: I’m not affiliated with HydroPeptide or Lather in any way)

  • July 1, 2012

    by Suzy

    I recently purchased this and have been using 2 months. At first I too, got red streaks on my cheeks and also had a red welt from the disk catching near my nose. Overall i have not seen much difference from just using this, however I think it takes off the dead skin and that helps other cremes sink in better.

  • June 15, 2012

    by Danyel

    Hello Nisha,

    I am so glad you posted a review on this product as I just purchased this device and was looking for a review I could trust. You noted that one should be careful in selecting products to use with this device. Do you have any particular products in mind for 24 year old combination oily skin with flakiness, acne scars and hyper pigmentation?

Join the discussion! Leave a comment below.

My Comment

Add a comment...

-or- Cancel Comment
* Required Fields
truth in aging's five best

Truth In Aging's Five Best

The very best to choose from for your skin concerns.

Read More

truth in aging videos

Truth In Aging Videos

Helpful how-tos and reviews from Marta and friends.

Watch Now

meet our contributors

Meet Our Contributors

The TIA community consists of our trusted reviewers.

Meet Them

be inspired

Be Inspired

Inspiring thoughts and women who are aging gracefully.

Read More