You can never be certain how people are going to react when you declare to the world that you really enjoy rolling needles into your face. Fortunately, after telling the tale of how I permanently removed my under-eye bags by way of derma-rolling (or micro-needling, as it’s often called), the response has been amazing and overwhelmingly positive—and many readers want to get in on the action themselves.
That being said, we’ve gotten many requests for more details on how to try it out at home. Which is totally valid, by the way—when you’re planning on trying something that hardcore, you probably want to know exactly what you’re doing beforehand. I get it!
So we’re covering it all, with the help of celebrity esthetician and Stacked Skincare founder Kerry Benjamin. From the correct needle size and technique to the serums you should be using (and avoiding), consider this your ultimate primer on all things micro-needling. Let’s get things rolling, shall we?
In case you didn’t know, a derma-roller contains hundreds of tiny needles. When in use, these needles create micro-injuries on the skin, which in turn sends collagen and elastin production into overdrive to compensate as it heals—leaving your complexion tighter and plumper than it was beforehand. This makes it an ideal method for filling in fine lines and wrinkles, thickening and plumping the skin under the eyes (thus diminishing the appearance of dark circles and bags) and even plumping up lips. Micro-needling is also a very effective treatment for acne scars and discolouration since it penetrates the skin so deeply. Plus, when used in conjunction with a serum (as it should be), it boosts ingredient absorption up to 90%.
For a more intense, in-office treatment, many dermatologists use a derma-pen—an electronic micro-needling device that oscillates as it punctures the skin. These treatments often have immediate and dramatic results but also have side effects like pain and bleeding. They also tend to be very expensive.
Fortunately, at-home derma-rolling is a much thriftier alternative that still gets great results with regular maintenance. It requires a much lower pain threshold, too.
How Do I Choose a Derma-Roller?
First off, make sure you’re sourcing one from a quality retailer. I’ve purchased great (and cheap!) derma-rollers on Amazon, but I would definitely suggest making sure it’s well reviewed and from a verified seller before making your selection. That being said, Benjamin’s derma-roller is high quality and still quite affordable.
The next thing you have to consider is needle size. Benjamin strongly advises only using 0.3-millimetre needles or lower, as anything thicker has a higher risk of damaging the skin (especially on delicate areas around the eyes and lips). “If you want to do a deeper micro-needling treatment with a larger needle size, I recommend going to a professional,” she adds.
Pick Your Serum
“One of the main points of micro-needling at home is to really maximize the efficacy of your serums,” says Benjamin. Still, she notes, “It’s really important to buy the right serum with the right active ingredients to get the most benefit and also cause no adverse reaction.” That means embracing some ingredients and steering clear of others.
Benjamin recommends choosing formulas that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, stem cells, peptides and growth factors. “These are the types of ingredients that will really maximize the effects of micro-needling to stimulate collagen, speed up cell turnover, lift hyperpigmentation, smooth out fine lines, firm, plump and hydrate,” she says.
On the other hand, very active ingredients like retinol and vitamin C are no-nos, as they can cause sensitivity to begin with (using these in tandem with micro-needling is a recipe for irritation).
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Prep Your Skin
After applying the peel (if you’re using it), add one to two layers of your serum of choice to your face. Take your derma-roller and gently roll it over your skin vertically, horizontally and diagonally. Roll the device twice over your cheeks, forehead, chin, lips and neck. No need to press too hard or put yourself in pain—apply as much pressure as you can comfortably tolerate. Take special care on your lips and underneath your eyes, as this skin is especially delicate. (And never apply serum or roll on your eyelids.)
After finishing, add a second layer of serum. If you aren’t overly sensitive to retinol, Benjamin says you can use one after rolling (though only at night).
Cleanse After Using
After using, cleanse your roller with rubbing alcohol and store it in its plastic case. Also be sure to replace your derma-roller often—once a month, if you’re using it several times a week, or after about 10 to 15 uses.
When to Roll Again
This is really up to you: You can safely use your micro-needle as often as a few times a week, but I simply use mine once a month and have really been able to maintain my results that way. It really depends on what you’re most comfortable with and what kinds of skin issues you’re treating. (If you have a lot of discolouration or fine lines, you may want to use yours more often.)
Any other questions? Come ask us in our dedicated Facebook group The British Beauty Line.
This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.