At home microneedling sounds pretty horrific at first – after all, it does consist of rolling tiny needles across your delicate facial skin. And no matter what you choose to call it – microneedle therapy or derma rolling, it can be a challenge to get over that chill-inducing “needle” part.
But if you can get over the initial discomfort of needling your skin, you’ll reap the benefits. Why? Because microneedling is a ridiculously simple, safe, and inexpensive way to rejuvenate your face, and you can do it right at home.
Considering how simple the process is, it’s a beauty multi-tasker that helps correct pretty much every skin care woe under the sun, from acne scars and hyperpigmentation to wrinkles and stretch marks. Plus, microneedling has no down time, so as long as you’re a candidate, you can reap the benefits without having to break your wallet or spend days hiding out from the world.
No wonder it’s here to stay and will only grow more and more popular. But before you rush off to get your very own derma roller, you’ll want to know exactly what it is, how it works, and everything else you need to know to use it safely and effectively.
Let’s get started, shall we?
What is Microneedling and What Does it Do?
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The very first thing you’ll want to know is what exactly microneedling does. Microneedling is also known as “collagen induction therapy” because it induces collagen to step up production. Collagen comes from the Greek word “kolla,” which means glue.
And that’s exactly what collagen does. It holds our body together. We’ll skip that whole long (and likely boring) explanation. All that’s important for our purposes here is what it does for our skin.
One thing collagen does is help heal our skin. You have a cut; it heals. That’s collagen at work. It also helps rid our skin of dead cells and keeps our skin strong, firm, tight, and flexible. In other words, it keeps our skin youthful – as long as we’re young!
As we age, collagen production slows down, and our skin begins to fall victim to gravity and other dreaded signs of aging. The really bad news is that collagen starts breaking down around age 25. Who knew the aging process set in that early! But it takes a while to look old, depending on anyone’s idea of what old actually looks like.
So where does microneedling factor into all this? Microneedling tricks the body into increasing collagen production. With a dermaroller, you create controlled micro injuries in the upper layer of your skin. Your brain sends out an alarm for the collagen to get with it and step up production.
As collagen heals those injuries, it also works on fine lines, sagging skin, scars, and dark skin spots – the plagues of aging and the imperfections that can mar your skin at any age. That’s what makes microneedling one of the most effect cure-alls for skin imperfections: it targets a root cause, i.e. the loss of collagen, and by inducing collagen production, improves everything from acne scars to stretch marks.
How Exactly Does Microneedling Work?
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If you’ve been researching microneedling, you have probably heard the term “dermaroller” come up a lot. That’s because this little device is what is used to perform microneedling.
So what is a dermaroller? It’s a handheld device that looks somewhat similar to a paint roller, except it’s much smaller.
It’s closer in size to a razor, and it has that kind of handle. The important part? The dermaroller is filled with tiny, very thin needles that very gently perforate the skin.
If that sounds gruesome to you, it’s not as harsh as other skin-rejuvenating measures. It doesn’t burn the skin as laser surgery does, and it doesn’t dissolve the skin as chemical peels do. It doesn’t abrade the skin as dermabrasion does.
Be assured that the needles do not hurt and they do not draw blood – assuming you do the procedure correctly. We’ll get to that in a bit. First, let’s go over who will benefit from microneedling and who will not.
What are the Benefits of Microneedling?
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As you already know, microneedling will improve the overall appearance and health of your skin. Here are some specific benefits you can expect from microneedling.
- Microneedling is an effective treatment to fight the signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, and bags under the eyes.
- It also treats scars left behind from conditions such as acne, surgery, or chicken pox.
- It even reverses damage done to the skin from the sun and reduces hyperpigmentation (dark skin) from any cause.
- Have no skin imperfections? You lucky duck. You can still benefit from microneedling, since it also makes the skin more receptive to serums and creams that improve the appearance and health of your skin.
The majority of the benefits above focus on the the face. Just to let you know – microneedling can be used for more than beautifying your face. You can also use it to get rid of stretch marks and cellulite. You can even use microneedles to stimulate the scalp in cases of alopecia (hair loss). Professionals have even used microneedling to remove tattoos!
Thanks to the underlying benefit – stimulating collagen production – microneedling comes with a varying bevy of benefits. But before you get too excited, there are some things that microneedling cannot do.
Who Should Not Use Microneedling
Microneedling is generally considered safe for use unless any of the below applies to you.
- Do not microneedle if you have diabetes or any condition that hinders the natural healing of your skin. Likewise, if you have any condition or are on any medication that prevents blood from clotting properly.
- You cannot microneedle if your skin has any active infection or inflammatory condition, such as acne, rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis.
- Don’t microneedle if you have skin cancer or benign raised moles, warts, or lesions. Lesions include wounds, cysts, blisters and the like – anything on your skin that you can’t even imagine putting a needle into, no matter how tiny and thin the needle.
- Don’t microneedle keloid scars. Keloids are scars, but they are not scars that can be microneedled. The result from the healing response can go haywire, leaving scars that are thick and irregular and rise sharply above the skin and extend beyond the site of the original wound.
- You also cannot microneedle solar keratosis – rough, thick, scaly skin caused by many years of excessive exposure to the sun.
The above list doesn’t apply to you? Great, let’s get started.
How to Choose the Best Dermaroller
When it comes to choosing the best dermaroller for you, the most important consideration is the needles. Most dermarollers come with one roller with a particular needle size, and you have the option of purchasing additional rollers with different size needles.
Some dermarollers come with three or four rollers, each with different size needles. Either way, you have to choose the right needle length for your purposes.
I believe in the saying, “Fools rush in . . . ,” so I may be overly cautious, but you lose nothing by starting out with a smaller size needle. That way, you can get the hang of dermarolling without worrying about doing something potentially harmful.
There are needles as small as 0.2 mm, 0.25 mm, and 0.3 mm. These smaller, thinner needles are used solely to prepare your skin for optimal reception of a skin product.
At-home dermarollers can also have needles that are 0.5 mm, 1 mm, and 1.5 mm. These slightly thicker needles also help products penetrate more deeply, but they also work on lightening and brightening your skin, improving hyperpigmentation, and helping to reverse the signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.
1 mm and 1.5 mm needles help smooth out deeper wrinkles, firm the face, and remove dark spots and scars.
2 mm needles are not advised at home, and 3 mm needles are only used by professionals.
The best microneedle on the market is currently:
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The Guide to At Home Microneedling
Now that you know what microneedling can and cannot do and you have the perfect derma roller for your needs, let’s find out how to perform at home microneedling!
Please keep in mind that these are general instructions. It’s best if you find out what the manufacturer suggests or, if possible, talk with a professional for advice.
Microneedling Warnings and Precautions
- Do not let other people use your unit and do not use someone else’s.
- Keep the roller clean and dry at all times.
- Do not roll more than advised by the manufacturer or professional.
- If your skin has a hypersensitive response, stop using and consult a doctor.
- Store your dermaroller in its case in a safe place, out of the reach of children and away from any area that may be subject to contamination (e.g., near the toilet).
Microneedling Prep: What to Do Before You Start Rolling
The most important thing to know is that the dermaroller must be sterile. When you open a new dermaroller, it should be vacuum-sealed to ensure it’s sterile. Can’t hurt to sterilize it again.
If you’ve used the dermaroller previously (or even if it’s new, but especially if you’ve used it), use a 12x magnifying glass to check the needles to make sure they are straight, sharp, and all the same length.
If they aren’t, do not use the dermaroller.
For sensitive skin, you can use a topical numbing cream an hour or so before the procedure.
Immediately before the procedure, thoroughly cleanse your face and hands to remove any bacteria that may cause infection. If you think that you may have to set the dermaroller down during the procedure, wipe the area with alcohol.
How to Perform Microneedling
Now you’re ready to rock and roll – or at least roll.
Use short strokes with the dermaroller to cover every area of your face. Use medium pressure (light in the area of the eyes) and be consistent. Roll five times vertically, five times horizontally, five times diagonally. Back and forth equal two stokes.
Tip: If you use your free hand to stretch the skin where you’re rolling, the needle will penetrate much more easily.
If you find it easier, you can roll the entire skin area horizontally, then vertically, then diagonally. Either method is fine as long as the pricks are spread evenly.
After the procedure, apply a cool mask or cold packs to eliminate any redness. If you use ice-packs, clean them with alcohol before putting them on your face.
There are many beneficial serums that you can apply after microneedling to improve the results. You might start out with a vitamin C serum or a Copper Peptide serum. Retinol cream is also safe and effective.
But one of the most important things you must do after microneedling is to clean your derma roller.
This is an absolute must. Wash it immediately in warm water and soap. Be careful not to damage the needles. Then soak the derma roller in disinfecting alcohol that is at least 75% alcohol for 20 minutes, making sure that the entire head of the derma roller is covered. Do not save the alcohol for future use.
Air dry the roller before putting it back into its case. Clean the case with hot water, but never with a cloth and sponge; they can be contaminated with bacteria.
What to Expect After Microneedling
Microneedling is an effective procedure, and like all procedures, there may be reactions. Some people are more prone to reactions than others. You may not have any reaction at all. But the following are reactions that need not concern you.
You may experience redness and irritation. This is a whole new experience for your skin. It’ll get used to it.
Your skin may be dry and rough for a few days. That’s what skin does as it’s in the process of being renewed.
You may experience irritation from the skin product you use after dermarolling. Start with applying any product lightly. If you have no problems, you can gradually apply more when you roll in the future.
If a product is irritating on normal skin, it will penetrate more deeply after microneedling and irritate much more. In particular, avoid products for hair growth and skin lightening. It may go without saying, but certainly don’t use an acid peel after a microneedling session.
Ready to be the first in your crowd to try it and have people wondering just why you’re looking so well? Give at home microneedling a go! And when your friends ask about your skin care transformation, you can share the reason or keep it your awesome little beauty secret!