PMD Personal Microderm

PMD Personal MicrodermPMD Personal Microderm, $159

I’ve been questing to achieve skin that doesn’t piss me off for a while now. Around the holidays, I ordered a PMD Personal Microderm system from Nordstrom to try. My concerns:

  • General exfoliation/cellular turnover
  • Sebaceous filaments
  • Skincare product absorption
  • General preventative aging stuff

PMD Personal Microderm describes their device as…

…a revolutionary at-home skincare tool that provides the same brilliant results as professional … treatments. PMD Personal Microderm combines Patented(1) Spinning Disc technology(2) with Perfectly Calibrated(3) Vacuum Suction to brighten, smooth, and even skin tone and texture. Personal Microderm reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, blemishes, and enlarged pores. This exfoliation process removes the dead, dull skin cell barrier, increases blood flow, and boosts the body’s natural production of collagen and elastin.

Having a Patent isn’t as Big of Deal as it Sounds

First things first: I hate when marketing departments throw the word, “patented,” in front of something. It’s a buzz-word. It isn’t more impressive simply because it was patented. Not to be crass here, but toilet tissue was patented, too.

Patented

Just add, “Technology!”

Second, more marketing criticism – “Spinning disc technology.” You know what else uses spinning disc technology?

frisbee

Perfection is Ambitious

Third, throwing in that golden adjective, “perfectly,” is a little bold. Different skin types need different things, so let’s not pretend that there really is a one-size-fits-all level of suction. That is what the PMD Personal Microderm devices offer, but to call it perfection is a bit much.

The Device

The PMD device receives largely positive reviews, but my first impression of the PMD Personal Microderm was that it felt lightweight and flimsy in my hands. Here’s this fairly large handle…made, clearly, of hollow plastic. The balance was poor. It wasn’t comfortable in my and and felt awkward to hold. On top of that, I nudged the power rocker several times during normal use. Poorly thought out.

The PMD Personal Microderm device is not battery powered, so treatment needs to take place near an outlet, which may be a detractor to some. I’d rather have consistent power and performance than the freedom to traipse around my apartment while sloughing off my skin’s outermost layers. There are two threaded plastic caps that hold the exfoliating, spinning disc in place; one wide, one narrow. The wide discs and cap are intended for larger surface areas (cheeks, forehead) and the smaller discs and cap are used in narrower spaces (around the nose, etc).

To switch discs, unscrew the cap, pull the disc cylinder out, and replace. I found that the disc cylinders were a little snug and stiff when it came to removing and replacing, but I accepted this if it meant they were secure.

Usage

Prior to use, you should wash your skin with a mild cleanser and pat dry. Skip moisturizers.

Starting at the bottom center of your face, hold the PMD Personal Microderm to the skin and use the other hand to hold the treatment area taut. Moving outward and upward in steady strokes, move the device across the skin. Easy enough. PMD has you start with a super-gentle white disc to help you acclimate to the device and prevent you from destroying your skin.

After the first two uses, I graduated from the white discs to the light grey (ultra-sensitive) and blue (sensitive) discs. After each use, my skin was red but not in pain. My skincare products did sink in quickly after use and that day and the next my skin was fairly bright.

Over Time

Using it once weekly for six weeks did not seem to be significantly impactful, however. I had to work hard to deal with sebaceous filaments just as I would have without the device, and the lines that developed in my forehead woefully (albeit not unexpectedly) early are just as noticeable as they ever were.

Also, although the exfoliation was there I didn’t find myself getting better with the device – I didn’t go slowly by any stretch of the imagination, but it was difficult to smoothly glide over my skin; the disc wouldn’t stay in proper contact with my skin as I moved the PMD Personal Microderm device around. It would skip with the suction and tug a bit, which was uncomfortable but not injurious. I did not have difficulty lining up my strokes to avoid a, “tiger stripe,” effect that some users reported.

Reviews report that the devices loses suction after about a year. That’s disappointing considering the cost of the device. If it truly gave professional results, a limited lifespan would be completely worth it (after all, how much is microdermabrasion at a med-spa?)…but it doesn’t.

The Bottom Line

A rarity, I ended up returning the device after six weeks of use. I wouldn’t recommend. Why?

  • The results were not consistent with the marketing or hype.
  • I found it challenging to use consistently without skipping over my skin.
  • I did not see anything beyond short term, 1-2 day benefits.
  • Limited lifespan at approximately one year.
  • High replacement/consumable cost at $15-20 for a set of 4-6. When each disc should be replaced every 3-4 uses, that adds up!
  • Sensitive heads feel decently abrasive (not painful); can’t really see someone using a coarser disc without discomfort.
  • Device felt flimsy and isn’t designed with ergonomics in mind for the cost.
  • Seemed that I had to work entirely too hard to contend with sebaceous filaments, which are common and not stubborn…if I had that much trouble with that, how much difficulty would someone using it for anti-aging concerns have?
  • The lines in my forehead are just as obvious as ever. I’m not trying to get rid of them, per se – of course I have lines in my forehead as a cynical twenty-something – but this did nothing to them, which I think would be concerning, again, for someone looking into the PMD Personal Microderm device for DIY anti-aging treatment.

Fortunately, I found and use something else. Have you tried any at-home microdermabrasion substitutes?

Alpha Skin Essential Renewal Gel 10% AHA

Alpha Skin Essential Renewal Gel 10% AHAAlpha Skin Essential Renewal Gel 10% AHA, $15

Alpha Hydrox 10% AHA Lotion used to be a staple of mine, but I discontinued use because it felt greasy and gross to me. Time passed and I experimented with skincare, and I found that my skin likes a mix of physical and chemical exfoliation. During our break, Alpha Hydrox rebanded to Alpha Skin; new logos and packaging, new (higher) price tags. Little did I know, they sold the gel I now use, Alpha Skin Essential Renewal Gel 10% AHA, before. If I only knew!

Applying

Retailing at $15 for 1.7 fl oz, the Alpha Skin Essential Renewal Gel 10% AHA is a thin, clear gel that housed in a short squeeze-tube. When I use the product, I apply a pencil-eraser-sized dollop to clean skin in circular motions with my fingertips. It isn’t remotely greasy – I give it two minutes to absorb, then apply 2-3 drops of argan oil. I apply before bed and have glowing, smooth skin in the morning.

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Contigo Chill

Contigo Grace

Hydration is important. After about a year of using a Camelbak Eddy which was hard to clean, I switched to a Contigo Grace water bottle. I love that I can drink from it one handed; the Grace is designed such that you don’t have to fumble with unscrewing and re-securing a cap. It is lightweight yet sturdy and inexpensive to boot.

The Contigo Grace is great, but it isn’t insulated. Generally, I like my water cool (not cold – somewhere between room temperature and cold) but it is difficult to keep it that way if you’re carrying the bottle around by hand. It ends up warming up a bit more than I love when I’m running between meetings at work. Solution: Buy an insulated one.

Enter the Contigo Chill

Contigo Chill

The Chill features a similar one-handed, push-button dispensing design as the Grace, but it’s stainless steel and maintains temperature for about 12 hours. I’m really enjoying it so far.

So far, so good. I’m happy with it; I got the Scuba Blue one, but if my Target would have had the Matte Black/Berry one, I would have gotten it.

If you’re partial to one-handed use with sip-valves and straws, the Contigo Ashland Chill is your guy; my husband has the non-insulated version and it’s just as sturdy and excellent as the Grace. The straw

The Bottom Line

The opportunity to test the Contigo Chill in the heat of summer has not yet manifested because I’ve only had it for about two months. Do I think it will maintain cold or cool in 90+ degree heat for twelve hours? No, realistically – but even four hours would be awesome in those conditions. I convinced my husband to get a Contigo Chill in addition to his uninsulated bottle from them and we haven’t looked back.

No Buy Oops – What I Bought

I broke my no buy by getting a disappointing manicure. Fortunately, the pedicure I got with it was decent, but dear heavens is it difficult to get a manicure that doesn’t suck.

I learned my lesson – I DIY for a reason!

Anyway, while we’re at it – when I was planning, I failed to recognize that Ulta was going to release a 20% Platinum Perk and that Sephora was going to have its coveted BI sale smack in the middle of my attempted limited consumerism.

Oops.

It’s not all bad. I didn’t go crazy. I bought:

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Why I Don’t Get Salon Manicures

This is a legacy post that I’ve given a facelift because for some reason in April I think it’s a good idea to get a manicure…only to be disappointed every. single. time. Content is the same with spiffed-up formatting and another anecdote from this year.

Bitey

Once upon a time, I was a horrific nail-biter. Jagged, short, lame. I eventually stopped myself, but not by self-torture (bitter nail drops and whatnot), but instead I painted my ragged nails. I eventually did not want to mar the polish (or have it in my mouth), so I eventually broke the habit. Over time, I leveled up my polishing skill and now my nails are awesome and the envy of millions generally pretty nice!

In a Groove

Since then, nails became my thing. Long before I bothered with makeup or tried to pretend that I could manage my hair, nails were my thing. I feel put together when they’re tidy. My polish collection is decent and find the process relaxing, especially when I’m using gel polish that is relatively odor-free. I rarely have to clean around the nail afterwards, and I rarely have to retouch.

Praise be to DIY

I DIY most of my own manicures and do not bother with salon manicures. So many salons that are in a friendly price point do not take time with their clients; it’s all quantity over quality. I hate being rushed and I hate paying so much (even at a ‘friendly’ price point) for something I can do 20x better myself.

Beyond that, my collection consists all of polishes I like, so I don’t risk going to a salon and being left with a picked-over, old, separated, and thinned-with-thinner OPI polishes that are, frankly, the odd ones out – or, in the case of the topcoat in the OPI bottle, not even a freaking OPI product! Although I know I could bring my own polish, I usually don’t; the polish is part of the price for the service. You don’t get a discount for supplying your own product.

I am also not a fan of how it feels when someone else files my fingernails – I can’t describe it, but it bothers me at a cellular level. Too little is done to stabilize my fingers, and everyone knows that back-and-forth zig-zag filing is bad for the nail…yet so many do it! I can do just fine on my own and save money.

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