Skincare tools are the secret keys to youthful, glowing skin. And as far as I’m concerned, no anti-aging skincare routine is complete without at least two!
One of my favorite at-home beauty gadgets is the derma roller. Whether you’re trying to target post-inflammatory pigmentation (acne scars), sunspots, or just visible signs of aging, dermarolling may be the answer to your prayers.
I highly recommend getting microneedling done by a professional if you don't feel confident doing it yourself.
However, if new beauty tools excite you as much as they do me, then maybe you've been wanting to try out a dermaroller for some time. But, you have a lot of questions —how often should you use a derma roller? How to clean a derma roller? How to use a derma roller??
Microneedling is a complex treatment, and should not be carried out at home without doing your homework. There's a lot to learn before you put a derma roller anywhere near your face. So, let's get into this.
Table of Contents
What Is Microneedling?
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 microneedle 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 titanium needles.
I know, stabbing your face with tiny needles sounds like torture to me too! But, the results of microneedling are quite 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 creates plumper, tighter skin, giving a more youthful appearance with reduced lines and wrinkles.
What Aniston is referring to is the fact that micro-needling can dramatically accelerate the effects of topical serums. It provides a short window of opportunity for post-treatment products to permeate the skin through fresh channels, reaching levels of the epidermis, at concentrations otherwise impossible. Far exceeding the depth at which skincare can normally penetrate the skin.
According to the expert's micro-needling works on all skin types. But, it is especially effective for those who have dark patches on the skin from acne scarring or hyperpigmentation. "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.
Dermarolling 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 magazine 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.
6 STEP GUIDE TO MICRO-NEEDLING
As with any at-home skin device, it's always best to ask an esthetician for advice first, and even book a few treatments. Especially when it involves needles.
I highly recommend doing your own research before putting a dermaroller anywhere near your face. To perform a safe micro-needling treatment you need to prepare properly or you run the risk of damaging your skin.
1. HOW TO SPOT A FAKE DERMA ROLLER
Amazon knockoffs from china are great for some things. But not when it comes to buying a derma roller for your face! Look for a titanium needle 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.
*Check out The Rich Skin Club Amazon Storefront to shop my personal derma roller recommendations here
2. CORRECT POST-CARE PRODUCTS
Post-care products are just as important as safe rollers. These tiny holes that you've just punctured all over your face will act as channels transporting whatever you apply directly into your epidermis.
Therefore, it's crucial to use clean beauty formulas post microneedling. Check the ingredient lists. Using a serum with known synthetic irritants, like fragrance or harsh alcohols will damage your skin.
My top two post-care products are HA Serum and Squalane because they are both 'skin-identical' ingredients. This means they are non-irritating, replenishing ingredients that help to repair and restore your skin barrier. I follow up with an all-natural night balm because my skin can get super dry overnight after microneedling.
This is my go-to post-microneedling serum. Suitable for all skin types its infused with Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Green Tea, and Jojoba Oil. Super hydrating and moisturizing.
MyChelle Ultra Hyaluronic Hydrating Serum $47
A nourishing blend of Hyaluronic Acid and Squalane to boost moisture levels and soften skin. This is a great post-microneedling serum to soothe irritation and neutralize free radicals.
* Check out my personal post-care recommendations here
Your skin needs hydrating, nourishing, and replenishing ingredients right now. Hyaluronic acid is one of the best ingredients to use post microneedling. It is a skin-identical ingredient and will not cause irritation to sensitized skin.
If you have dry skin after serum apply an organic botanical oil.
It's very important that skin is kept clean too. So don't touch your face unnecessarily and make sure your pillowcase is clean. Avoid the gym, makeup, fake tan, and sun exposure for 24-48 hours depending on the needle size used.
*Avoid using any products that contain actives ingredients, such as Retinol/Retin A, Vitamin C, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, or Kojic Acid.
3. HOW TO CLEAN A DERMA ROLLER
Improper use of a derma roller can be hazardous because it involves breaking the surface of the skin.
Isopropyl rubbing alcohol 70% is needed to properly sterilize derma rollers —before and after use. Not mouthwash, barbicide, witch hazel, Dettol, or any other disinfecting agents.
70% isopropyl alcohol is recommended over 99% because it evaporates more slowly, remaining in contact with microbial organisms for longer than 99%. 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.
*After use, wash and rinse your derma roller before sterilizing. Alcohol cannot dissolve the proteins found in skin and blood, so it's necessary to wash first.
4. HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU USE A DERMA ROLLER
Needle sizes range between 0.2mm —the smallest, up to 2.5mm. However, anything above 1.0mm should be performed by a professional only, and these needle sizes are generally only used on the body. These derma rollers can draw blood and for obvious reasons need a numbing cream!
The professionals suggest starting with the smallest needle size and time your treatments accordingly;
0.2/0.25mm - Every other day
0.5mm - Once a week
0.75mm - Once a month
1.0mm - Every 5-6 weeks
I use a 0.5mm derma roller once a week, a 1.0mm every 6 weeks a month, and a 0.25mm on my lips and around my eyes. I try to do this routine for 4-6 months, then have a little break, ot just do one for a few months.
5. WHAT SIZE NEEDLE TO CHOOSE?
Derma roller needles come in various sizes to treat different skin concerns. Check the chart below to see which needle size you need. Keep in mind that 0.20mm and 0.25mm needles are too short to stimulate collagen synthesis. They can be used more frequently as part of your skincare routine to help topical products penetrate deeper into the skin.
6. STEP-BY-STEP MICRONEEDLING DIRECTIONS
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 3-4 times in the same spot. Make sure to lift the roller between rolls. DON'T DRAG THE PINS ACROSS YOUR SKIN!
Lift the roller completely up off 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 3-4 times. Lifting and rolling to cover section.
If this is your first time rolling, just go up and down, and across the skin. If you have been microneedling at home for a while go over the same area in diagonal lines. You want to make sure you needle as much of your face as possible —without overdoing it!
Roll your brows carefully and avoid the eye area unless using a 0.2mm/0.25mm roller. Never roll the eyelids.
Move in small sections all around the face until you have covered one half, then repeat on the other side.
For beginners, roll your face for 4-5 minutes. If you are more advanced you can spend longer, but I don't do it for longer than 10 minutes —15 minutes if I'm doing my neck. Roll around your nose as much as possible if you have large pores in this area. Only roll around the mouth and lips with a 0.25mm roller. Spend extra time on frown lines if this is an area of concern for you.
A couple of things to keep in mind, pressure should be firm, not heavy
Sterilize hands before you begin, Apply serums and oils immediately after you finish. I highly recommend using night cream post-microneedling. Apply sunscreen when leaving the house.
DO NOT USE A DERMAROLLER 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.
STAY OUT OF DIRECT SUNLIGHT AFTER MICRO-NEEDLING
REPLACE YOUR DERMA ROLLER ARE 15 USES, OR 3-4 MONTHS
The results of microneedling are not instant. It takes anywhere from 3-6 months of consistent treatments to see results. If you are trying to get rid of acne scars it may take 12 months. Also, if you have ten year old scars, I'm afraid microneedling won't help you with these.
This is an at-home skin treatment that you really have to commit yourself to, but will pay off big time!
I have been microneedling regularly for two years now, with great results. Around the 3-4 month mark, I began to see improvements. Reduced lines, faded pigmentation marks, and scars, plumper, softer more hydrated skin. I also use a radio frequency/LED light device which makes a big difference to my results.
This post was first published in 2019, so am updating it and figured I'd add my thoughts after derma rolling my skin for nearly four years! I have found that combining regular microneedling sessions —0.5mm weekly, 1mm every other month, and a 0.25mm every other night, with all of the other treatments I do keeps my hyperpigmentation under control.
However, life has been really hectic the last 4 -5 months and I kind of neglected my derma rolling session. I've had a word with myself and decided to move on and do better! In fact, 3 brand new roller arrived yesterday, so who wants to join me for a microneedling challenge?
Get the guide! I've created an amazing step-by-step microneedling guide to help you get started on your derma rolling journey to smoother, brighter skin.