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Derma Rolling/Micro-Needling: How-To Maximize Its Benefits

derma rolling micro-needling

Derma Rolling Micro-Needling History

Call it derma rolling, micro-needling or collagen induction therapy, the cosmetic procedure in which tiny needles are rolled or stamped and inserted into the skin’s layer may sound torturous, but it is actually quite beneficial. The first known micro needling-type procedure was performed by a German dermatologist, Ernst Kromayer. By using different-sized, motorized dental burs, Kromayer treated scars, birthmarks, and hyperpigmentation.

The derma rolling procedure with which we are familiar in this day and age was initially used in 1995 by Dr. Desmond Fernandes in Philadelphia to address wrinkles and scars with hypodermic needles. Dr. Fernandes also designed a small needle stamp to prompt and enhance collagen production. Since then research has proven its effectiveness against many skin conditions.

Derma Rolling Micro-Needling Benefits

  • Minimizes scars and stretch marks
  • Increases skin elasticity and thickness
  • Reduces discoloration and wrinkles
  • Maximizes product absorption

The Science Behind Derma Rolling Micro-Needling

By inducing microscopic wounds, derma rolling encourages collagen and elastin production. Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body and is responsible for holding together connective tissue like skin, muscles, tendons, cartilage, and bones.

Despite how painful micro-needling may seem, it’s really a minimally invasive procedure with very little downtime, if any at all. The recovery process mainly depends on the length of the needles used. The longer the needles, the longer the recovery time (because the wounds are deeper).

Not All Derma Rollers are Equal

With a flood of derma rollers on the market, it’s not so obvious to recognize the differences, but not all derma rollers are manufactured the same. Some may consist of titanium needles, others of stainless steel. Although, titanium needles seem to be more durable, stainless steel is overall stronger and more hygenic, making it the preferred metal by medical professionals.

Another not-so-obvious, but significant difference is the assembly of the needles. Some derma rollers have the needles on a wheel, much like a circular saw blade, whereas other rollers have individualized needles secured in a silicone mold. The saw-like needles get larger as they attach to the base, which causes inconsistent punctures to the skin. On the other hand, the individual needles have the same diameter from end to end. The concept of derma rolling/micro-needling is to puncture the skin and create small, neat wounds. The individual needles achieve this concept by nicely perforating the skin, whereas the needles on a wheel tear into the skin, damaging more than creating a controlled wound.

What Needle Size To Use

The needle size will depend on what skin condition is to be treated. We recommend seeing a professional for needle sizes greater than 1.0 mm.

ConcernsNeedle length (millimeters)
deep acne scars, surgical scars, stretch marks1.5 to 2.0 mm (see your dermatologist)
skin discoloration, enlarged pores (.25 to .5), and shallow acne scars0.25 to 1.0 mm (start with the smallest, a combination of smaller and larger needles is ideal)
wrinkles, uneven skin tone or texture, sun-damaged, or sagging skin0.5 to 1.5 mm (a combination of smaller and larger needles is ideal)

Contraindications

Do not use a derma roller when/on:

  • presence of active acne
  • infection of herpes or warts
  • eczema
  • rash, open wounds/sores
  • skin infection
  • sunburnt skin
  • using retinol
  • keloids or keloidal tendency
  • on coagulant, chemo-, or radiotherapy

How To Use Your Derma Roller

It is important to sterilize your roller before and after a treatment in order to avoid any hazards and unwanted infections. Refer to the steps below to help ensure a safe at home treatment.

Step 1: Disinfect roller

Disinfect your derma roller by letting it soak in 70 percent isopropyl alcohol for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse off with hot water.

Step 2: Cleanse and prepare skin

Thoroughly wash your face using a gentle cleanser. If you’re using a derma roller with needles longer than 0.5 mm, wipe down your face with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol before the rolling process.

Step 3: Apply numbing cream, if needed

Depending on your pain tolerance, you may need to apply an anesthetic cream.

When using a numbing cream, follow the instructions the manufacturer provides, and make sure to completely wipe it off with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol before you start rolling! 

Step 4: Roll with it

Just like the instrument itself, the technique is key. Begin by dividing up your face into sections like below. Avoid rolling in the eye sockets area.

It is not necessary to roll diagonally as it causes too much stress. Keep in mind that the idea is to only perforate the skin in such a way that it can heal quickly.

Roll vertically in one direction 6 to 8 times, depending on your skin tolerance and sensitivity, and make sure to lift up the roller after each pass before repeating. Avoid rolling back and forth by lifting the derma roller after each pass. This will prevent “track marks” from appearing, which can look like a cat clawed your face. After rolling the same area 6 to 8 times, move on to the next area, and repeat until the entire section of skin is treated. Rolling away from your eyes prevents any accidents.

Once the vertical rolls are done, go back over each area and repeat the process in the horizontal direction. By the end of this entire procedure, each area should have been rolled 12 to 16 times — 6 to 8 horizontally, 6 to 8 vertically.

Step 5: Rinse with water

After micro-needling, rinse your skin with cool (not cold) water only.

Step 6: Clean roller

Clean your derma roller with dishwasher soap free from dyes and perfumes. (Dish soap dissolves the oils and proteins better than other soaps.) With hot water, create a sudsy mixture in a larger container, swish around the roller, making sure the roller doesn’t hit the sides of the container. (Hitting the sides of the container may damage the needles.)

Step 7: Sterilize roller

Sterilize your derma roller again by soaking it in the 70 percent isopropyl alcohol for 10 minutes. Keep it safely tucked away in its case.

Step 8: Keep it Simple Skincare

Follow up derma rolling with a simple skincare routine free of chemicals, exfoliants, and active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, tretinoin, etc. Avoid sun rays the next few days and wear sunscreen, as always.

How often should you derma roll?

The frequency for derma rolling also depends on the length of needles that will be used. Below is a guideline for the number of times you can use a derma roller within a given time frame.

Needle length (millimeters)How often
0.25 mmevery other day
0.5 mm1 to 2 times a week (starting with less)
1.0 mmevery 10 to 14 days
1.5 mmonce every 3 to 4 weeks; best done by professional
2.0 mmevery 6 weeks (avoid this length for home use)

Be certain your skin is completely recovered before starting another session! Healing is key in collagen production. Too little time in healing can produce the opposite results.

Aftercare

To maximize results, use products that focus on hydrating, healing, and increasing collagen production. Apply a serum packed with collagen, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, even niacinamide. Be sure to wear sunscreen and stay away from direct sunlight. We love the Bioscience Peptide Serum.

What to expect after micro-needling?

After rolling, the skin may:

  • be red and feel like a sunburn, the degree of which all depends on the needle size
  • have minimal swelling
  • feel like your face is pulsating because the blood is circulating

There will be some minor redness for about two or three days, and the skin might start peeling. If peeling occurs, do not pick at it! The skin will shed naturally with time.

Results

We would love to se your results. Share your before and after pictures with us on Instagram.


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Skin Commandments

food healthy wood nature

Simple rules for healthy, beautiful skin:

  1. Hydrate inside and out. Besides water, try green and herbal teas; they’re packed with antioxidants. Minimize your intake of caffeine and alcohol as they dehydrate and inflame tissue. Moisturize two times a day.
  2. Sleep is restorative and your skin regenerates and absorbs serums best while you sleep.
  3. Eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, nuts and fish. Multivitamins are great to supplement any nutrient gaps, but the goal is to intake most of your vitamins and minerals through fresh food. Minimize your intake of salt and processed foods/sugar.
  4. Exercise increases blood flow and gives your face a healthy glow. Don’t be afraid to sweat! Sweating rids the body of toxins and sheds dead skin cells so new ones can grow.
  5. Fresh air equals O2. Oxygen is essential to the health and maintenance of cells. It boosts blood flow, which has a domino effect on collagen and elastin tissue.
  6. Sun care 365 days, rain or shine.
  7. Hands off your face.
  8. Exfoliate weekly.
  9. If you smoke, quit. Never quit quitting smoking. Try and try again with patches, gum, hypnotherapy, or read Allen Carr’s The Easy Way to Stop Smoking.
  10. Smile! It immediately brightens your appearance and creates positive thinking.