Microneedling has received a lot of buzz in the skincare world (?industry) in the last few years, and rightly so! If you are curious about microneedling and how it can help your skin, including some dos and don’ts when buying and using the right device, this guide is for you.
First thing’s first: microneedling is typically performed by a professional medical aesthetician or dermatologist using a specialized microneedling pen. It can also be done at home safely with a derma roller, a handheld tool with tiny little needles on a drum-like roller.
The physiology behind how it works is that tiny needles create micro-injuries that stimulate a healing response consisting of increased blood flow and new collagen production [source]. This subsequently encourages skin renewal, enhanced penetration of product actives, and improves the appearance of wrinkles and acne scars [source].
Microneedling At Home
Home microneedling is a little milder, in that the needles are typically quite a bit shorter than the ones used in a professional setting. It can be done to improve the appearance of very fine lines or areas with larger pores. It is also useful to increase the absorption of your skin serums and other cosmetic products [source].
Does it have to be painful to work?
No. You may have some mild discomfort, depending on how sensitive your skin is, but it should NOT be painful. The longer the needle, the more discomfort you may experience. That’s why the longer needles are used only in the professional clinics after the application of a topical anesthetic.
The needles for home use are so short, they do not reach the pain receptors in the deeper layers of skin. So if it is painful with a roller designed for home use, that means you are pressing too hard and potentially damaging your skin.
Will there be blood?
No. The needles are tiny, and the rolling is very light; the at-home tools for microneedling should not create wounds with blood. If you see blood, you are likely too aggressive in your approach, or your needles are too long for the area being treated.
It is important to avoid the eye area for this reason. Professionals have tools with longer needles, and these are used for deeper skin issues like scarring and deep pigmentation.
Is it true that the longer the needle, the better?
No. The derma roller lengths for the face should never be greater than 1.0 mm. In fact, the 0.25 mm, 0.5 mm and 0.75 mm are typically recommended for at-home use on the face. The thinner the skin area, the shorter the needle needs to be.
Will I see results overnight?
No. Microneedling is a process for which patience is essential. It takes 3–6 months for new collagen to form and before the best results are noticed. Continuous use is needed for significant results. There are no quick fixes when it comes to our skin as the best treatments support the health and natural healing of the skin.
Can I use a derma roller daily?
This is not recommended and may actually be harmful. The needle length will determine how often you use your derma roller. The smaller the needle, the more often it can be used: 0.25 mm may be used every other day on the skin, whereas a 1.0 mm may only be used every other week.
It all depends on the sensitivity of your skin and how quickly it recovers. There is a fine line between encouraging new collagen production and causing scarring. More isn’t always better.
Will skin be red after use?
Possibly. Skin will often turn pink immediately following use, but prolonged redness and skin irritation are not normal, and you should stop using your derma roller if this occurs.
The more rolling, the better, right?
Wrong. Over-rolling is dangerous and can cause inflammation and even scarring. Roll over an area 2–3 times maximum and move onto another section of the face.
Will it help my acne scarring?
For areas of acne scarring, keloid or burn scar tissue [source] or stretch marks, microneedling can help, but it will require a stronger intervention with longer needles requiring an application of topical anesthetic. That is best done by professionals in the clinic and not with an at-home roller [source].
Can I share my derma roller with a friend?
No. Nope. Never.
The Basics of Using a Derma Roller
The pressure used to roll the derma roller should only be enough to glide it over your skin.
Always apply to clean skin.
Follow use with a serum. Be aware some serums may sting or tingle after rolling because you have exposed the skin to enhance delivery of the active ingredients in the serum. Definitely be mindful of the products you are using immediately following a treatment.
Make sure it is a relatively fresh product that is less likely to be contaminated with bacteria from sitting around for a long time after repeated applications to the skin (potentially having been inoculated from the bacteria on your fingers).
Use good quality products. The derma roller will only work as well as the skincare products you are using, so invest in good quality serums and oils to get the most beneficial results. Use an organic product with very few and only natural ingredients. Avoid products with alcohol and harmful chemicals.
Clean your derma roller after each and every use by dipping it in rubbing alcohol. Don’t leave a derma roller out in a bathroom where it can be susceptible to moisture and bacteria; a covered container is preferred (once it is completely dry).
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Haley, a board-certified dermatologist with extensive experience in medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical review board here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Photos by Ana-Maria Stanciu598