Microneedling at home, which is more accurately termed as “derma-rolling” – we will use both terms interchangeably. It is the use of a prickly time machine that’ll purportedly erase superficial skin concerns. It’s a type of collagen induction therapy.
As the name suggests, derma-rolling is a skincare procedure that uses a roller with fine needles to puncture the skin, causing controlled skin trauma. This trauma prompts the skin to encourage collagen and elastin production, which will, in turn, help smooth out your skin tone and texture.
During the procedure, a penlike tool called a derma roller is rolled over the skin. The small, fine needles on the roller cause micro-injuries or micro-punctures, creating a controlled skin injury. The superficial damage caused by the needles encourages your body to repair itself by producing elastin and collagen to fill them in and heal them. This new collagen and elastin make skin look and feel firmer, tighter, and may reduce the appearance of fine lines.
It is essential to remember that micro-needling is not a quick fix. It may take several sessions over a few months for you to see optimal results.
Is derma-rolling suitable for you?
Derma-rolling is a minimally invasive treatment that requires no down-time. It’s considered safe for most people.
Who is it for?
Address skin problems
Derma-rolling may be used to address skin concerns, such as:
- Wrinkles and fine lines
- Acne scars and skin hyperpigmentation
- Aging skin
- Stretch marks
Also, one of the most significant benefits of derma-rolling is its ability to improve the penetration of skincare products into the deeper layers of the skin.
Total prep and procedure duration is approximately two hours.
Dermarollers are available for an affordable average of $20. In comparison, each in-office session will cost anywhere from $200-$700 – a price that’s too expensive for many people.
Derma-rolling rarely penetrates deep enough to confer dramatic results (for more affected skin) but can enhance exfoliation and product absorption. You can see improvements if you use it consistently over four to six months. If you are interested in more dramatic, long-term results, in-office micro-needling is a better option than a store-bought derma roller.
Who is it NOT for?
You may not be an ideal candidate for derma-rolling if you:
- Have an active skin infection
- Have keloid scarring
- Have sensitive skin
- Are pregnant
- Have open wounds
- Have certain skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis
- Have had radiation therapy recently
Furthermore, derma-rolling is not for you if you need drastic and immediate results.
Derma-rollers have shorter, blunter needles that are not meant to penetrate the skin, which means that it will not be as effective as in-office micro-needling devices.
Derma-roller size chart
Different lengths of the needle on the derma-roller work best for different types of skin concerns. Here’s a table summarizing what length should be used for your skin concern:
|Concerns||Needle length (millimeters)|
|Enlarged pores and blemishes||0.25 to 0.5 mm|
|Uneven skin tone or texture||0.5 mm|
|Wrinkles||0.5 to 1.5 mm|
|Skin discoloration||0.25 to 1.0 mm|
|Sun-damaged or sagging skin||0.5 to 1.5 mm|
|Shallow acne scars||1.0 mm|
|Deep acne scars, surgical scars, or stretch marks||1.5 mm|
Note: Dermarollers that are greater than 0.3 mm in length are not approved or cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
How often should your derma roll?
The frequency of your treatments will depend on the length of your derma roller’s needles and your skin’s sensitivity. If your needles are shorter, you may be able to roll every other day, and if the needles are much longer, you may need to space out treatments every three to four weeks. If you’re looking to rev up your results, you may want to consider incorporating additional skincare treatments between your micro-needling sessions.
How often you derma roll depends on the length of needles, you’ll be using. Below is the maximum amount of time you can use a derma roller within a given time frame:
|Needle length (millimeters)||How often|
|0.25 mm||Every other day|
|0.5 mm||1 to 3 times a week (starting with less)|
|1.0 mm||Every 10 to 14 days|
|1.5 mm||Once every 3 to 4 weeks|
Replace your derma-roller after 10 to 15 use.
Stainless steel vs. titanium derma rollers
Derma rollers come with either stainless steel or titanium needles. Titanium is more durable because it’s stronger than stainless steel. This means the titanium needles will last longer, and the sharpness won’t blunt as quickly. However, stainless steel is more sterile. But for all intents and purposes, both types will get the same job done.
How to use a derma roller
Follow these steps precisely to avoid any infections or hazards.
Step 0: Microneedling at-home kit
Here’s your five-step method:
Step 1: Disinfect your derma roller
Disinfect your derma roller by letting it soak in 70 percent isopropyl alcohol for 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 2: Wash your face
Thoroughly clean your face with a pH-balanced gentle cleanser. If you’re using a derma roller with needles longer than 0.5 mm, you’ll also need to gently wipe down your face with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol before you start rolling.
Step 3: Apply numbing cream, if needed
Depending on your pain tolerance, you might consider applying a numbing cream. Numbing is especially crucial for anything above 1.0 mm since the needle length will draw blood via pinpoint bleeding.
Step 4: Begin derma rolling
Before you start, mentally divide your face into four sections, avoiding the orbital (eye socket) entirely.
- Gently and firmly roll in one direction. Repeat 6 to 8 times, depending on your skin tolerance and sensitivity. Make sure to lift the roller after each pass.
- Adjust the derma roller slightly, and repeat. Do this until you’ve covered the entire section of skin you’re treating.
- Repeat the process in the perpendicular direction. For instance, if you finished rolling across your forehead vertically, now would be the time to go back and repeat that entire process horizontally.
By the end of this procedure, you should have rolled over each area 12 to 16 times – 6 to 8 horizontally and vertically each.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to roll diagonally. Doing so creates an uneven pattern distribution with more stress on the center. Also, remember not to roll over active acne!
Step 5: Rinse your face with water
After you’re done rolling, rinse your face with clean water only. Pat it dry with a clean pad.
Step 6: Sanitize your derma roller
Clean your derma roller with dishwasher soap. Create a soapy water mix in a plastic container, then swish around the roller vigorously, making sure the roller doesn’t hit the sides. The reason we use detergents like dishwasher soap after rolling is that alcohol doesn’t dissolve the proteins found in skin and blood.
Disinfect your derma roller again by soaking it in the 70 percent isopropyl alcohol for 10 minutes. Put it back in its case.
Step 7: Continue your basic skincare routine
Follow up derma rolling with a basic skincare routine. That means no chemical exfoliates or active ingredients like tretinoin, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, etc.
- Vitamin C
- Growth factors (e.g., epidermal growth factor)
- Hyaluronic acid
- Peptides (e.g., copper peptides)
Also, you’ll need to follow the aftercare instructions to prevent infection. This often involves keeping the area clean for a few days, as well as using antiseptics to ward off bacteria.
The Bottom Line
Micro-needling at home is generally a safe and effective procedure that can improve the appearance of skin. While derma-rollers are widely accessible and cost-effective, they will not provide the drastic results that professional micro-needling otherwise would.