I've never been a fan of needles. I'm not saying I cry whenever I have to get a shot—okay, maybe I tear up a little—but using a needle device, even a "microneedle," as part of my skincare routine seemed too terrifying to even try. But then I ended up going down a TikTok rabbit hole about microneedling and dermaplaning and their benefits—glowy skin and improved texture, to name just a couple—and knew I needed to try it.
While microneedling is designed to be done by a professional, there are options for microneedling at home, too. But let me—and the microneedling expert I spoke to, innovative tool guru Kerry Benjamin—be very clear: Using a derma roller at home can be dangerous and damage your skin if not done properly. As ever, always make sure to talk to your dermatologist or esthetician.
How does microneedling work?
Microneedling is exactly what it sounds like: the process of using a derma roller on your face. A derma roller is made up of clusters of tiny needles that penetrate the skin when rolled across the face.
According to Benjamin, there are two main benefits to microneedling: “It stimulates epidermal growth factors to boost collagen and elastin that plump and firm skin, and it increases absorption of active ingredients by 90 percent, making this procedure one of the most powerful and effective ways to stop early signs of aging.”
Microneedling sets the stage for dewy skin and an even complexion, thanks to the collagen being produced more regularly. It also helps with fine lines, age spots, and acne scarring—what can't it do?
Is microneedling at home safe?
As stated above, professionals are your best bet for a thoroughly safe—and more effective—microneedling process. However, microneedling can be done safely at home, too. The most important thing to be certain about: The needle size.
“At-home microneedling should be done with rollers that are .2mm," says Benjamin. "These are considered cosmetic needling and safe and effective to use at home daily for great results. Needles .5mm and longer should always be used by a licensed professional.”
And I'm sorry to say this, but if you're dealing with active acne, you should skip at-home microneedling, or else you might be spreading bacteria and causing more problems. However, Benjamin adds that a derma roller can be used on acne that is not pustular, e.g. filled with fluid or pus: “ If you have a pimple, you can roll around it. For cystic acne, it's great to use to help drive actives deeper into the lesion to treat it quickly.”
How do I use a derma roller at home?
First things first: Make you’re using a sanitized device—you should always clean your device before and after each use—and that the needles are not too dull. You’ll know it’s time to change your dermaroller head when you start to feel resistance when using a roller. Here's your step-by-step guide to microneedling, per Benjamin:
- Cleanse your skin with your favorite cleanser.
- Apply your serums. Extra points for niacinamide and hyaluronic acid-based products for maximum supple skin.
- Roll vertically, diagonally, and horizontally 2-3 times in the four areas of the face: forehead, cheeks, lips/chin, and neck.
- Apply another layer of your serum or serums.
- Finish off with your favorite moisturizer.
- While redness and inflammation are normal, you can cool down using an ice roller or jade roller kept in the freezer.
Which products work best with microneedling?
Serums that have active ingredients, like skin-plumping hyaluronic acid, and growth factors to help maintain healthy skin. “These are the types of ingredients that will really maximize the effects of microneedling to stimulate collagen, speed up cell turnover, lift hyperpigmentation, smooth out fine lines, firm, plump, and hydrate,” Benjamin says.
What should I do after microneedling at home?
The inflammation and redness will usually calm down in about an hour. Make sure to avoid using retinol or retinoid products, and especially Vitamin C, warns Benjamin. “Vitamin C can be very active and unstable and cause a lot of irritation, especially because it is being driven deeper into the skin," he says.
On the flip side, serums and moisturizers that contain peptides, growth factors, and hyaluronic acid are fair game. In fact, they’re encouraged to help with cell turnover and ensuring skin grows healthy and strong.
When will I see results?
Benjamin says that if you keep a solid rolling regime with the right serums you will start seeing results in a couple of weeks. “I always say, 'the more you roll, the more you glow'! However, the results will vary depending on your skin condition and concern.”
You’ll know it’s working when your skin starts to look healthier and more radiant. The overall texture of your skin will improve, leaving a smooth and even brighter complexion.