The quest for perfect skin has led the beauty industry to offer a multitude of complexion perfecting treatments but it's hard to know which one is best for you. Facials seem to be the quick fix solution and are more pampering than permanent while dermatologist's treatments have a deeper and more lasting effect. Now, a lot of companies are offering safe at-home treatments so people can service themselves without an appointment. Here's my take on the major procedures you might have heard your friends or dermatologists buzzing about -- microdermabrasion, chemical peels and photo facials:




The Procedure: Microdermabrasion

Who It's For: People of all ages who want smoother, clearer, younger-looking skin

How it works: A device is used like a fine sandblaster to spray tiny crystals onto the skin. This same device then vacuums up all the dead skin basically polishing your complexion to a smooth clean finish. Because it deals with the epidermis only, it is perfect for removing dry patches, blemishes and fine lines. However, it will not work on major skin discolorations and deeper lines.

The best time to get it done: It is a great treatment to get in the beginning of spring to replenish your skin after winter's harsh drying effects.

At-home versions vs. Professional treatments: Professional treatments can take away acne-scarring, fine and deep lines, sun damage, age spots and even rosacea. It's also a wonderful way to stimulate collagen production. At-home versions are usually battery-operated skin polishers that come with grainy creams. They are not as intense as the procedures performed at a dermotologist's office or with an aesthetician at a salon, but they offer great results.

Maintenance Tips: Microdermabrasion is best done in a series. I always recommend four to seven treatments at first and then once a month for maintenance and prevention.

If you decide to try an at-home version, I recommend:

DermaNew Facial Rejuvenation System ($70)

Pond's Purely Polished Microdermabrasion Anti-Aging Kit ($13.99)




The Procedure: Chemical Peels

Who it's for: People who want to smooth out wrinkles, unclog their pores, erase discolorations, remove acne scars

How it works: An acid -- usually a fruit acid -- is applied to the skin, burning off the dead upper layer, lightening and smoothing the surface. There is no pain just an irritating sunburnlike sting. The circulation it causes boosts cell rejuvenation and collagen production for newer, younger-looking skin. Recovery time varies with the percentage of solution used but most treatments known as "lunchtime peels" are mild and you can go right back to work with a subtle pink glow to the skin. A couple days later your skin will peel a little giving way to fresh baby skin underneath. Usually a series of peels is needed to see the full effect, although after one treatment the results are incredible.

At-home versions vs. Professional treatments: It's best to see a dermatologist for this treatment so the adjusted level of the solution is tailored to your skin type. At-home peels are usually low dose glycolic solutions in the form of pads, face washes, lotions or spot treatments.

Maintenance Tips: Protect your skin by applying a moisturizer with SPF and sunscreen daily. If you don't use a high SPF all the old problems can return.

If you decide to try an at-home version, I recommend:

Neutrogena Advanced Solutions Facial Peel ($24.99)

Skyn Iceland Nordic Skin Peel ($45)




The Procedure: Photo Facials aka Pulse Light Therapy

Who it's for: People suffering from major sun damage and rosacea and those who want to reduce the appearance of moles, cherry anginomas, freckles and acne scars: This type of facial is will help erase these pesky problems with a healing time of a week or two. It's also great for anyone who just wants to tighten and tone their skin.

How it works: It's a laser light treatment that gently penetrates the surface of the skin.

At-home versions vs. Professional treatments: Dermatologists and other skin care professionals are the only ones to be trusted with this system, as proper training is required. There is no at-home version as of yet.

Maintenance Tips: You will need several treatments for maximum results.

If you want to reduce redness at home, I recommend:

MD Formulations Anti-Redness Kit ($55)