3 risky DIY skincare techniques

Pro-skincare-techniques_largeAfter getting a few spa services and watching a couple of online videos, you may think you’re ready to tackle a complicated skincare technique on your own. While you can try a number of things at home, it’s not without risk. That’s why it’s best to leave some beauty techniques to the pros to prevent skin injuries.

1. Microneedling

People looking to reduce fine lines, wrinkles and scarring are turning to microneedling. It’s a procedure that uses fine needles to create hundreds of minuscule holes in the skin to induce collagen and elastin production. Collagen and elastin help tighten and thicken the skin to improve its appearance.

When skincare professionals perform microneedling, we use a pen-like device with a disposable needle tip that can be adjusted anywhere from .25 to 3 mm for shallow to deep penetration. The varying depth allows us to address more moderate to severe concerns. The needle tip is thrown away after use. At-home microneedling devices are usually rollers that look like an aerator for your face. The needle depth ranges from .25 mm to 2 mm, depending on the device, and are usually not disposable. 

DIY microneedling can cause more problems than it’s worth, and that’s one of the reasons the Food and Drug Administration is considering regulating the devices. The small needles penetrate the skin creating a risk of bleeding or scarring from rolling too hard, too deep or too often. Also there’s a risk of infection because the devices can only be sanitized, not sterilized. 

2. Dermaplaning

Dermaplaning is a gentle exfoliation procedure that produces brighter, smoother skin without any downtime. During the procedure, aestheticians use a surgical steel blade to remove the top layers of dead skin and fine hairs from the face. The skin is cleansed before the procedure and, once it’s done, products that are appropriate for the skin, such as toner, moisturizer and sunscreen, are applied. 

There are several at-home dermaplaning tools on the market that you can use to get similar results. Their use can be fine, especially in conjunction with an office visit. The concerning part is the temptation to do a little more to get “better results.” Overdoing it or shaving areas of the skin multiple times can lead to inflammation, dark spots and scarring. You can also introduce bacteria to the skin if the tool isn’t cleaned properly, which can cause an infection.

3. Chemical peels

Skincare professionals use chemical peels to exfoliate the skin, brighten dark spots and treat wrinkles. Typical chemicals used include glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid and trichloroacetic acid (TCA). The type, combination and concentration of chemicals will vary based on the type of peel and the skin conditions you want to treat. During the treatment, the face is cleansed, a chemical solution is applied to the skin, left on for a few minutes and then neutralized and washed off. Following the procedure, you’ll have some redness and skin flaking or peeling for up to a week.

If you want to tackle a chemical peel, there are plenty formulated for at-home use. Just use them as directed and stick to acid concentrations of 10 percent or below. The danger comes when novices get their hands on professional strength chemical peels with high acid concentrations or that contain TCA, which is too strong for at-home use. Complications include skin discoloration, scarring and infection. 

Eve Suiter is an aesthetician in the department of plastic surgery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.