The Pros and Cons of "Dermarolling," AKA Stabbing Your Skin Thousands of Times with Needles to Make It Prettier

It can be the best or the worst thing.

Design by Betsy Farrell

Dermarolling, AKA microneedling, is an at-home treatment in which you use a small rolling pin-looking thing—though it's way scarier than a rolling pin because it's also covered in needles—to poke hundred or even thousands of very small holes on the surface of your skin. Sounds like a beauty horror story waiting to happen, no? But apparently lots of women swear by the prickly treatment to make their skin glowier, more even, and better all around.

Let's take it to the experts...

The Pros

It can improve skin's texture and tone."The collagen stimulation can produce subtle improvements in fine lines, hyperpigmentation, acne scars, and stretch marks," explains Dr. Arash Akhavan, MD, FAAD, and owner and founder of The Dermatology & Laser Group.

Your skincare products will work better. "When superficial, dermarolling will increase the delivery of the active ingredients of skincare products to make them more effective," says dermatologist Dr . Patricia Wexler.

It's quick and relatively painless. "There's little discomfort and recovery time compared to other forms of collagen stimulation—other than slight redness and peeling," says Dr. Akhavan.

It's cheap. Especially compared to pricey pro treatments! You can find a decent dermaroller for as little as $20.

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The Cons

It can irritate the skin. "Done too frequently, it can cause bleeding, swelling, breakouts and deeper trauma to tissue—especially if not cleaned properly between treatments or if rollers are shared," explains Dr. Wexler. "It can also cause scarring if a patient is on Accutane or has recently had radiation or laser treatments."

The results are subtle. "Those hoping to have profound effects with dermarolling alone are often left underwhelmed by the results," says Dr. Akhavan. "Whether you are treating hyperpigmentation or trying to generate collagen for the improvement of wrinkles, acne scars, or stretch marks, microneedling works best when it is combined with in-office procedures such as fractional laser skin resurfacing, chemical peels, or professional microneedling."

Pro Tips for Dermarolling at Home

Choose the appropriate length needle for your problem. "For increasing penetration of products, use a superficial needle between 0.25 and 0.5 millimeters long," instructs Dr. Wexler. "For treatment of wrinkles, both superficial and deep, use between 0.5 mm and 1.0mm for safe at-home therapy."

Do not apply too much pressure. "Anything more than moderately firm pressure puts you at risk for damaging your skin including causing rupture of delicate superficial blood vessels," says Dr. Akhavan.

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Do not treat inflamed skin. "Treating areas that have active acne or skin infections will add to skin inflammation and possibly spread infection," warns Dr. Akhavan.

Be wary of what you apply to your skin after. "Do not apply makeup or moisturizers that are on the thicker side immediately following dermarolling as they can clog pores, causing breakouts of acne."

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