The history, benefits and directions for safe, at-home micro-needling
Have you noticed a few extra wrinkles around your eyes or mouth lately? Maybe you wish to get rid of those old acne scars that just won't budge no matter how committed you are to your exfoliating acids. Or, perhaps pigmentation marks caused by sun damage are your pain point.
Whatever your skin issue the derma roller may be the answer to you prayers. Referred to as medical micro-needling, this procedure was strictly professional-only until recently with spa prices ranging from £250- £350 for a single treatment. Which you'll need one of on a regular basis for at least 6 months to achieve the desired results.
By the end of this post you will know;
How to buy a safe derma roller
How to properly clean a derma roller
How often to use a derma roller
What size needle is best
Micro-needling at home step-by-step directions
What Is Micro-Needling?
Firstly, a little bit of skincare history. Micro-needling has actually been around for a surprisingly long time. The first recorded use of a derma roller was over a century ago. A German dermatologist, Ernst Kromayer experimented with dental burrs mounted on a motor-driven flexible cord to treat scars, birthmarks and pigmentation.
Thankfully we've come a long way since 1905! Today's derma roller is a small hand-held device that is used to roll over areas of the face. It looks a lot like a miniature paint roller covered in hundreds of tiny needles.
I know, stabbing your face with tiny needles sounds like torture to me too, so let's get to the good bit ––the benefits of this torturous little device. The results from microneedling are really remarkable, if done correctly and regularly. This is because the needles create lots of 'micro-injuries' that signal your body to produce more collagen and elastin to repair the affected area. This extra boost of collagen and elastin makes for plumper, tighter skin thus giving a more youthful appearance with reduced lines and wrinkles!
"I do micro-needling! I just learned about it a couple months ago from a facialist in New York. It allows the serums and whatever products you’re using to really sink in" – Jennifer Aniston
What Aniston is referring to is the fact that micro-needling can dramatically accelerate the effects of topical serums containing anti-aging ingredients like hyaluronic acid and antioxidants. It provides a short window of opportunity for post-treatment products to travel into the skin through fresh channels reaching levels of the epidermis, at concentrations not otherwise possible. Far exceeding the depth at which skincare can normally penetrate the skin.
According to the experts, micro-needling works on all skin types but is especially effective on those who have acne scarring and pigmentation marks. "By creating small areas of injury, it jumpstarts the skins repair cycle, inducing collagen and elastin synthesis," says Dr Maryam Zamani, an Oculoplastic surgeon, Aesthetic Doctor and creator of MZ Skin
"It can also be used on hyperpigmentation because it helps shed the top layer of skin while also helping in the absorption of topical agents that can be used concurrently to help to prevent the formation of new pigmentation," says Dr Zamani.
Derma rolling can help reduce acne scars, stretch marks, cellulite, large pores and can even be used for hair regrowth. Aesthetician Kerry Benjamin, founder of Stacked Skincare tells SELF that the purpose of micro-needling is two-fold: to stimulate collagen production and to increase the absorption of skincare products. "With the right corrective serums, micro-needling is an effective, powerful way to prevent the aging process and create a youthful glow," says Benjamin.
Micro-Needling For The Lips
Vlogger Farah Dhukai claims at-home derma rolling to be an alternative for lip fillers.
"I've thought about getting fillers, but decided to try THIS alternative method instead and I LOVE IT!" says Dhakai in her Instagram post which shows her micro-needling her lips.
6 STEP GUIDE TO MICRO-NEEDLING
As with any at-home skincare device or tool, it's always helpful to ask your esthetician or beautician for advice first, and even book a few treatments. Especially when it involves needles!
I highly recommend doing thorough research before putting a derma roller anywhere near your face. To perform a safe micro-needling treatment at home you need to prepare properly or you run the risk damaging your skin.
1. How To Buy A Safe Derma Roller
First things first. Buy a real derma roller. Not a china knock off! Look, I buy Amazon knockoffs from china sometimes. Some of which have been great, others ended up in the bin. But, when it comes to your micro-needling the most important thing to avoid when purchasing a derma roller is fake needles. ONLY buy a derma roller with individual needles, as opposed to needle wheels (pictured below) which can damage the skin.
A good rule of thumb when buying derma rollers is to compare prices. If one is much cheaper than the rest, then it's likely a bad quality roller. It's best to buy from a reputable company and an authorized reseller. Also, look for the holograph sticker on the case.
FDA approved derma rollers brands with REAL needles
2. What Post Care Products Should You Use?
What you apply to you skin post dermarolling is of the utmost importance. Natural products are a must! Now that you've punctured tiny holes all over your face the last thing it needs is damaging synthetic ingredients, like chemical fragrance and harsh alcohols.
Please apply 'clean beauty' formulas that boost the skin with hydrating, nourishing ingredients. It's very important that skin is kept clean, so do try not to touch your face unnecessarily. Avoid the gym, makeup, fake tan and sun exposure for 24-48 hours depending on the needle size used.
Hyaluronic acid serum is the best product to use after derma rolling as this is a skin identical ingredient that will not cause irritation to sensitized skin. Check out this post for more info on this miracle anti-aging ingredient.
Avoid using a serum that contains actives ingredients, such as retinols/retin A, vitamin C, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or kojic acid.
My top HA serum to use post micro-needling is Radha Beauty's HA Serum. The amount of vitamin C is too low to cause irritation.
Other clean beauty HA serums;
3. How To Sterilize Your Derma Roller
Derma rolling needs to be taken seriously if you don't want to damage your skin. Rollers must be sterilized with 70% isopropyl alcohol/rubbing alcohol before and after use. DO NOT USE mouthwash, barbicide, witch hazel, Dettol, or any other disinfecting agents. 70% isopropyl alcohol is recommended over 99% because 70% evaporates more slowly, therefore it remains in contact with microbial organisms for a longer period of time. This means it kills everything!
First wash your derma roller carefully in soapy water (dish soap is suitable) and rinse. Then soak it in 70% isopropyl alcohol. You can also spray your roller with the alcohol, just make sure you thoroughly soak it.
When you have finished your treatment it's important to wash and rinse the derma roller before sterilizing it, as alcohol cannot dissolve the proteins found in skin and blood.
4. How Often To Use A Derma Roller
Start with the smallest needle size and time your treatments accordingly
0.2/0.25mm = Every other day
0.5mm = Once a week
0.75mm = Every 3 weeks
1.0mm = Once a month
1.5mm = Every 6 weeks
The professionals suggest starting with a 0.5mm derma roller. If you are a newbie to at-home beauty tools I strongly suggest starting with the smallest size needle. There are 6 different needle sizes to choose from, but anything above a 1.0mm —or if you're a seasoned skin pro, a 1.5mm should be performed by a professional only as they will draw blood and you'll need numbing cream.
I started my micro-needling journey with a 1.0mm derma roller which is doable without numbing cream. I don't use this one on my forehead or eyes. I use a 0.25mm around my eyes and for my lips.
My favourite roller size is my 0.5mm derma roller (above), because I can use this once a week and it helps to reduce my hyper-pigmentation, fine lines, as well as helping my serums and oils penetrate deeper post treatment.
Note: if using oils make sure they are organic.
5. What Size Needle Is Best
Ok, we've covered real and fake rollers, post-care treatment, sterilization, treatment frequency based on needle size... but what are all the different needle sizes for?
6. Step-by-Step Directions
*DO NOT USE A DERMA ROLLER ON ACTIVE ACNE, RAISED SCARS/KELOID SCARS, RAISED MOLES OR ANY SKIN ABNORMALITIES.
*DO NOT SHARE YOUR DERMA ROLLER.
*DISINFECT YOUR DERMA ROLLER BEFORE AND AFTER USE.
A couple of things to keep in mind, pressure should be firm, not heavy. Make sure your hands are clean.
Apply your serums and creams immediately after you finish rolling.
Use sunscreen when leaving the house. STAY OUT OF DIRECT SUNLIGHT AFTER MICRO-NEEDLING.
Again, avoid the gym, makeup, fake tan and sun exposure for 24-48 hours depending on the needle size used.
Cleanse your face before you start. Sterilise your face if using a 1mm needle.
Right then.. if you're still with me, let's roll!
Start on one half of the face and work in small sections till you've covered the entire area. Start with the outermost part of your cheek in front of the ear. Roll vertically up and down 4-6 times in the same spot
Lift the roller up off the skin (never drag the pins as it will damage the skin) and move inwards repeating the vertical rolling two more times in that section
Now roll horizontally across the same section, back and forth 4-6 time again in the same spot. Lift and repeat two times across this area
Now go over this same area in diagonal lines. You want to make sure you are needling every mm of your face!
Avoid the eye area unless using a 0.2mm or a 0.25mm roller! I really advise watching Gin Amber on YouTube. She has a ton of great tutorial videos on derma rolling including this really helpful one on rolling the brows and around the eyes.
Make sure you get all-around your nose as much as possible if you have any large pores in this area. It can be a bit tricky at first, but with practice will get easier.
Rolling around the mouth and lips can help reduce fine lines in this area, so spend a little extra time here. I also spend extra time on my frown lines too.
Move in small sections all around the face until you have needled one half. Then move to the other side. I spend around 20 minutes rolling my whole face.
The results of micro-needling are not instant. It takes anywhere from 3-6 months of consistent treatments to see reduced lines, faded pigmentation marks and scars, plumper skin and overall healthier, more hydrated skin.
This is a procedure you really have to commit yourself to, that will pay off over time. I have been micro-needling for two years now, and my skin feels softer and more hydrated. It has reduced my pigmentation marks, but I also use a radio frequency/LED light device which makes a big difference to my results.
Good luck rolling and take care!