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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 dermarolling (or microneedling, as it’s often called), the response has been amazing and overwhelmingly positive—and many readers want to get in on the dermaroller action themselves.
Watch Now: How to Use a Derma-Roller
We’ve gotten requests for details on how to try out dermarolling at home. After all, when you’re planning on trying something that hardcore, you probably want to know exactly what you’re doing. 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 to the serums you should be using, consider this your primer on all things microneedling. Let’s get things rolling, shall we?
Read on to learn exactly how to dermaroll at home.
Meet the Expert
Kerry Benjamin is an expert aesthetician and the founder of Stacked Skincare, a vegan, cruelty-free, non-comedogenic, sulfate-free, and clean skincare line.
What Is Dermarolling?
Dermarolling is a form of microneedling. The process involves rolling a small wheel that has hundreds of tiny needles over the face to gently prick the skin.
What Are the Benefits of Dermarolling?
A dermaroller 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. 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 dermapen, an electronic microneedling 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, you can use a cheaper, at-home dermaroller and still gets great results with regular maintenance. It requires a much lower pain threshold, too.
Is Dermarolling Suitable For All Skin Types?
Dermarolling can benefit all skin types, though those with sensitive skin should be mindful of how frequently they do it (more on that later). Though with aging skin will find it particularly useful, as it's 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. Dermarolling is also an effective treatment for acne scars and discoloration since it penetrates the skin so deeply.
How Do I Choose a Dermaroller?
First off, make sure you’re sourcing one from a quality retailer. I’ve purchased great (and cheap!) dermarollers on Amazon but would definitely suggest making sure it’s well-reviewed and from a verified seller before making your selection. That said, Benjamin’s dermaroller is high quality and still quite affordable.
The next thing you have to consider is needle size. Benjamin strongly advises only using 0.3 mm or lower, as anything thicker has a higher risk of damaging skin (especially on delicate areas around the eyes and lips). “If you want to do a deeper microneedling treatment with a larger needle size, I recommend going to a professional,” she adds.
How to Safely Dermaroll at Home
1. Prep Your Skin
Prep your skin by cleansing and then exfoliating with a gentle chemical or fruit enzyme peel—this second step helps you really get the most out of the microneedling by increasing ingredient absorption even more, though I’ve also skipped exfoliation with good results.
2. Choose the Right Serums
After applying the peel (if you’re using it), add one to two layers of your serum of choice to your face. “One of the main points of microneedling 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.
One of the main points of microneedling at home is to really maximize the efficacy of your serums
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 microneedling to stimulate collagen, speed up cell turnover, lift hyperpigmentation, smooth out fine lines, firm, plump, and hydrate,” she says.
Don't pick products that have active ingredients like retinol and vitamin C—they can cause sensitivity, and using them in tandem with microneedling is a recipe for irritation.
3. Use Your Dermaroller
Take your dermaroller and gently roll it over your skin vertically, horizontally, and diagonally, rolling 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. How often you dermaroll is dependent on the size of your needles, as well as your skin type. If your dermaroller has longer needles, you may only need to dermaroll once per month. If they're shorter, you could potentially dermaroll every other day. If your skin is typically sensitive, ease into how frequently you partake in this skincare treatment!
Take special care on your lips and underneath your eyes, as this skin is especially delicate. Make sure to never apply serum or roll on your eyelids.
4. Apply Another Serum
After finishing, add a second layer of serum. If you aren’t overly sensitive to retinols, Benjamin says you can use them after rolling (though only at night).
5. Clean Your Dermaroller
After using, cleanse your roller with rubbing alcohol and store it in its plastic case. Also, be sure to replace your dermaroller often—once a month, if you’re using it several times a week, or after about 10 to 15 uses.
How Long Does It Take to See Results?
As with most skincare treatments, the amount of time it takes to see results can vary depending on your skin type, the dermaroller you're using, and how often you use it. It can take between two to six months to see results. As far as repeating the procedure goes, this is really up to you. You can safely use your microneedle 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 discoloration or fine lines, you may want to use yours more often).
Are There Any Side Effects?
As with any skincare procedure, there are potential side effects, especially if you aren't using your dermaroller properly and keeping things hygienic. The side effects of dermarolling tend to be mild but may include irritation, bruising, peeling, bleeding, and infection.
Iriarte C, Awosika O, Rengifo-Pardo M, Ehrlich A. Review of applications of microneedling in dermatology. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017;10:289-298. doi:10.2147/CCID.S142450
Amer M, Farag F, Amer A, ElKot R, Mahmoud R. Dermapen in the treatment of wrinkles in cigarette smokers and skin aging effectively. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018;17(6):1200-1204. doi:10.1111/jocd.12748
Ramaut L, Hoeksema H, Pirayesh A, Stillaert F, Monstrey S. Microneedling: where do we stand now? A systematic review of the literature. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2018;71(1):1-14. doi:10.1016/j.bjps.2017.06.006