You may wonder, “How in the world is inserting hundreds of little needles into your face relaxing? And why would anyone want to do that?” It sounds unusual, but microneedling has a ton of benefits,
- reduced wrinkles and stretch marks
- reduced acne scarring and skin discoloration
- increased skin thickness
- facial rejuvenation
- enhanced product absorption
For anyone who’s looking for a way to tackle these concerns at home, microneedling might be your answer. However, microneedling is best when done in an office by a skin care professional.
Generally, your home is not as sanitary as a skin care professional’s office. Doing this procedure at home does pose safety risks, such as infection.
Here’s what you need to know about this process.
Microneedling, often referred to as dermarolling or collagen induction therapy, is a cosmetic procedure in which thousands of tiny little needles are inserted into the surface of your skin via a rolling or stamping device.
Dermarolling works by creating microscopic wounds that induce collagen and elastin production. Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body and is responsible for holding together connective tissue like skin, muscles, tendons, cartilage, and bones.
It’s believed that collagen production
Despite how alarming dermarolling may seem, it’s actually considered a minimally invasive procedure with little to no downtime. However, the recovery process does depend largely on the length of the needles used.
The longer the needles, the deeper the wound — and that means the longer the recovery time.
This will depend largely on what you’re trying to accomplish. Generally, a needle length of 0.25 mm to 1.0 mm works best. Since we’re all about simplicity, here’s a table summarizing what
|Concerns||Needle length (millimeters)|
|shallow acne scars||1.0 mm|
|deep acne scars||1.5 mm|
|enlarged pores||0.25 to 0.5 mm|
|postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (blemishes)||0.25 to 0.5 mm|
|skin discoloration||0.2 to 1.0 mm (start with the smallest)|
|sun damaged or sagging skin||0.5 to 1.5 mm (a combination of both is ideal)|
|stretch marks||1.5 to 2.0 mm (avoid 2.0 mm for home use)|
|surgical scars||1.5 mm|
|uneven skin tone or texture||0.5 mm|
|wrinkles||0.5 to 1.5 mm|
Note: Microneedling won’t help postinflammatory erythema (PIE), which is redness or pink blemishes.
Follow these steps precisely to avoid any hazards and unwanted infections.
It is important to remember that the following recommendations are generalized for almost everyone. Most studies on microneedling are
Consider starting with the shortest needle length, depth, and number of passes until you understand how dermarolling affects your skin.
Step 1: Disinfect your roller
Disinfect your derma roller by letting it soak in
Step 2: Wash your face
Thoroughly cleanse your face using a gentle pH-balanced cleanser. If you’re using a derma roller with needles longer than 0.5 mm, you’ll also need to wipe down your face with 70% isopropyl alcohol before the rolling process.
Step 3: Apply numbing cream, if needed
Depending on your pain tolerance, you might need to apply an anesthetic cream. However, you’ll most certainly want some numbing cream for anything above 1.0 mm, since that needle length will draw blood via pinpoint bleeding.
If you use numbing cream, follow the instructions the manufacturer provides, and make sure to completely wipe it if off before you start rolling!
Step 4: Begin dermarolling
The technique is very important. Visually splitting up your face into sections makes the whole process easier. Here’s a visual of what that looks like:
Avoid rolling in the shaded area, representing the orbital (eye sockets) area.
- According to one 2015 literature review, roll in one direction about four times, depending on your skin tolerance and sensitivity, and make sure to lift the roller after each pass. So, roll in one direction. Lift up. Repeat.
Lifting the derma roller after each pass prevents “tram track” scarring.
- After you roll in the same place several times, adjust the derma roller slightly, and repeat. Do this until you’ve covered the entire section of skin you’re treating.
- After rolling in one direction, it’s time to go back over the area you just rolled and repeat the process in the perpendicular direction. For example, say you finished rolling across your forehead vertically, now would be the time to go back and repeat that entire process horizontally.
Contrary to popular belief, we may not need to roll diagonally. Doing so could create an uneven pattern distribution with more stress on the center. If you decide to do this, please be careful and take extra precautionary measures.
Step 5: Wash your face with water
After you’re done microneedling, rinse your face with water only.
Step 6: Clean your derma roller
Clean your derma roller with unscented detergent. Create a soapy water mix in a plastic container, then swish around the roller vigorously, ensuring the roller doesn’t hit the sides.
The reason we use detergents directly after rolling is that alcohol doesn’t dissolve the proteins found in skin and blood, but detergents contain enzymes that can break down these proteins. According to the Cleaning Institute, the enzyme protease is best for cleaning protein stains, like blood.
Step 7: Disinfect your roller
Disinfect your derma roller again by letting it soak in the 70% isopropyl alcohol for 10 minutes. Put it back in its case and store it somewhere safe.
Step 8: Continue your basic skin care routine
Follow up the derma rolling with a basic skin care routine. That means no chemical exfoliants or active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, tretinoin, etc.
Use a gentle cleanser and moisturizer.
How often you derma roll also depends on the length of needles you’ll be using. Below is the maximum amount of times you can use a derma roller within a given time frame.
|Needle length (millimeters)||Frequency|
|0.25 mm||every other day|
|0.5 mm||1–3 times a week (starting with less)|
|1.0 mm||every 10–14 days|
|1.5 mm||once every 3–4 weeks|
|2.0 mm||every 6 weeks (avoid this length for home use)|
Use your best judgment here, and make sure your skin is completely recovered before starting another session!
Rebuilding collagen is a slow process. Remember, it takes the skin a fair amount of time to regenerate itself.
To take your results to the next level, use products that target hydrating, healing, and increasing collagen production. The single best thing you can do post-rolling is to use a sheet mask.
Not into sheet masks? Look for serums or products with:
- vitamin C (either ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbyl phospate)
- epidermal growth factors
- hyaluronic acid (HA)
If you choose to use vitamin C (ascorbic acid), take it easy! Its inherently low pH may irritate your skin. Instead, load up on it a few days before a microneedling session.
Remember that it only takes
After rolling, the skin may:
- be red for a couple of hours, sometimes less
- feel like a sunburn
- swell initially (very minor)
- feel like your face is pulsing and the blood is circulating
Less commonly, risks
- dark or light spots on the skin
- lines on the face (“tram track” scarring)
- cold sore flare-up
- swollen lymph nodes
People often mistake the minor swelling they experience for overnight success, but the plumping effect you see initially will subside within a few days. But as mentioned earlier, repeated rolling does have permanent results!
There will be some minor erythema (redness) for about 2 or 3 days, and the skin might start peeling. If this does occur, try your hardest not to pick at it! The peeling will fall off naturally as time passes.
Derma rollers come with either stainless steel or titanium needles. Titanium is more durable because it’s a stronger alloy than stainless steel. This means the needles will last longer and the sharpness won’t blunt as quickly.
However, stainless steel is inherently more sterile. It’s also sharper and blunts more quickly. Stainless steel is what medical professionals, tattoo artists, and acupuncturists use.
But for all intents and purposes, both types will get the same job done.
Derma rollers can be found online. You don’t need to overcomplicate things and get an expensive one. The cheaper ones will work just fine.
Some companies also offer package deals, offering both roller and serums, although their products may be pricier than purchasing everything separately.
Of course, continued use delivers better results. But the
Remember, if you do try dermarolling, never do it on active acne! If you have any hesitations or questions, consult your skin care professional before moving forward.
This post, which was originally published by Simple Skincare Science, has been edited for clarity and brevity.