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A derma roller is often used as an at-home alternative to microneedling for hair. It can be used on the scalp as a way to stimulate hair growth.

Hair loss is quite common, affecting up to two-thirds of men by the age of 35. Hair loss isn’t exclusive to men, however. Up to 40 percent of those experiencing hair loss are women.

There are many solutions to hair loss, but they can be costly and require a visit to see a professional. Derma rollers are the latest at-home tools touted for hair growth benefits.

Here, we take a deep dive into whether they really work.

You’ll notice that the language used to share stats and other data points is pretty binary, fluctuating between the use of “male” and “female” or “men” and “women.”

Although we typically avoid language like this, specificity is key when reporting on research participants and clinical findings.

Unfortunately, the studies and surveys referenced in this article didn’t report data on, or include, participants who were transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, agender, or genderless.

A derma roller is a handheld device. It has a handle and roller covered in tiny needles that usually vary in length from 0.2 mm to 1.5 mm. This may sound intimidating, but derma rolling shouldn’t be painful. You might experience some discomfort, but it should be tolerable.

Derma rollers can be used on your skin, beard, and scalp. The idea is to stimulate collagen, circulation, and cellular turnover for skin and hair benefits.

Some people experiencing hair loss turn to derma rolling as a hair growth solution. Like microneedling performed in a dermatologist’s office, at-home derma rolling creates small tears in the skin or scalp, which signals the brain to begin the healing process. This sends blood flow and collagen to the area.

According to the FDA, derma rollers are medical devices that need to be registered with the FDA. Although some are now available to buy and use at home, derma rolling is most safely carried out in a dermatologist’s office.

Pros

  • affordable
  • can be used at home
  • easy to use
  • results in increased hair density and thickness
  • tackles hair loss

Cons

  • can cause redness, irritation, or discomfort
  • comes with side effects
  • can be difficult to know which size needles to use
  • can’t see the back of your head when derma rolling on yourself

A derma roller is for anyone looking for an at-home hair loss solution. It can be used as a starting point for hair regrowth or in conjunction with other topical products, such as hair loss serums.

Anyone can use a derma roller, but not everyone should. People with skin conditions, like psoriasis and eczema, or a history of blood clots should check with a doctor or dermatologist before using a derma roller.

Active acne or warts can also spread from one part of the skin to another through derma rolling.

Derma rollers can be purchased online or in select stores.

Bondi Boost Hair Growth Derma RollerRoselynboutique Derma Roller Beard Growth KitORA Deluxe Microneedle Dermal Roller System
Where to buyBondiBoostAmazonDermstore
Needle length1.5 mm0.25 mm0.25 mm
Key characteristicfeatures 540 medical grade stainless steel needlessuitable for beards and facial hair as well as skincan also be used on the scalp for thinning hair

There are many derma rollers to choose from, so it’s important to pay attention to the length of the needles. The needle length can vary from 0.2 mm to 1.5 mm. Smaller needles tend to be safer for home.

The derma roller should also be suitable for use on the scalp. Many are intended for facial skin.

Using a derma roller seems simple, but the device has tons of tiny needles, so it should be handled with care.

To use a derma roller for hair regrowth, focus on the scalp. Run the roller across the scalp in multiple directions: horizontally, vertically, and diagonally — in that order.

Press down firmly enough so you feel some pressure, but not hard enough to where you feel pain.

Don’t roll over the same area too many times. This can cause injury or even an infection if you break the skin.

For best results, use a derma roller once or twice per week. Derma rolling more than twice per week can do more harm than good.

Derma rolling at home may show some results, but this may not be as effective as microneedling sessions in a dermatologist’s office.

There’s limited evidence that derma rollers work for hair regrowth. Most of the research is on the effectiveness of microneedling, which has been shown to effectively promote hair growth.

Derma rolling may share these same benefits. An older 2013 study found that using a derma roller with minoxidil was superior to using minoxidil alone for hair growth.

A device with tons of tiny needles can pose some safety concerns. Though derma rolling is relatively safe when performed as intended, there may be some side effects, like:

  • irritation
  • stinging
  • discomfort
  • swelling

Failure to properly clean and care for your derma roller can increase the risk of an infection.

You should avoid derma rolling or speak with a professional first if you:

  • have a history of blood clots
  • use Accutane or other medications
  • have a skin condition, like eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea

You should never derma roll over acne, inflammation, warts, or moles.

To reduce the risk of side effects, use the smallest needle size available: 0.2mm.

If derma rolling doesn’t work for you or you don’t like the idea of rolling tiny needles all over your scalp, it’s not your only option.

Other at-home hair loss treatments include:

  • over-the-counter (OTC) products containing minoxidil, such as Rogaine, Hims, and Hers
  • scalp massages
  • rosemary and peppermint essential oil
  • vitamin supplements, like biotin

If at-home treatments aren’t working, or if you’re ready to see a professional, a dermatologist can prescribe medications or perform other treatments.

Professional treatments include:

  • laser hair therapy
  • prescription medications, like finasteride and spironolactone
  • steroid injections

You should consult a doctor before derma rolling if you:

  • take any medications
  • have any skin conditions
  • have any health conditions

You should see a doctor if you experience side effects or pain from derma rolling.

If you don’t see results within 2 to 3 months, it may be time to see a dermatologist or hair loss specialist for other treatment options.

Is derma rolling safe for your hair?

Derma rolling is relatively safe when performed as intended. There may be some side effects, like stinging, redness, and irritation.

Which derma roller size is best for your hair?

Derma roller needles vary in length from 0.2 mm to 1.5 mm. For home use, shorter needles are safer.

Can derma rolling make hair worse?

Derma rolling may worsen scalp and hair health if used incorrectly. Avoid going over the same area too many times, and don’t use the tool again until the area has fully healed.

Derma rolling is an accessible and affordable at-home hair loss treatment. It involves a tool that’s popular in skin care for creating micro-tears that encourage healing and circulation.

While derma rolling might not be as effective as in-office treatments, like microneedling, it may help promote hair growth. There’s limited research on the effectiveness of derma rolling, so have realistic expectations.


Lacey Muinos is a health, wellness, and beauty writer based in Southern California. She holds a BA in English. Her work has appeared in digital publications like Livestrong, Verywell, Business Insider, Eat This Not That, and others. When she’s not writing, Lacey is likely pursuing her other interests: skin care, plant-based cooking, pilates, and traveling. You can keep up with her by visiting her website or her blog.