It might look like a primitive torture device, but derma rolling or micro-needling can be an extremely effective tool in your skincare regime. Using a derma roller at home is effective and safe when done right, and can give you a spa-like glow. But before you get rolling, you should read this article. Here’s everything you need to know about using one.
How does a derma roller work?
A derma roller has a wheel spiked with microneedles that you roll gently over your face. It is available with needles in different sizes, so you can choose the right size for your purpose. When you use a derma roller at home, it creates tiny pinpricks in your skin. This creates a rush of healing on your facial skin, which in turn gives you brighter, fresher and plumper skin.
What are the benefits of using a derma roller?
Using a derma roller at home has these benefits:
- Better absorption of your skincare products
- Fades fine lines and acne scars
- Evens skin tone and boosts radiance
- Stimulates increased collagen and elastin production for anti-ageing benefits
Have I just returned from a massage near me? How does my skin look so glowy? Are my skincare products working better than usual? Most people find themselves asking these questions once they begin using a derma roller at home.
However, you should avoid using a derma roller if you have:
- Active acne (because the derma roller may spread the bacteria)
- Infectious conditions like warts or cold sores (the derma roller may spread the infection to other parts of your face)
- Facial eczema or psoriasis (open wounds may intensify the condition)
- Sunburn, recent wounds or scars, or hives
If you have darker skin tones or are prone to scarring, be diligent with your skincare and sunscreen after derma rolling. Exposure to the sun may cause hyperpigmentation.
Do note that derma rolling is not the same as dry needling or acupuncture. Derma rolling is used for skin rejuvenation while dry needling or acupuncture are alternative medicine therapies that are used to treat several medical conditions.
How to choose the right size needles for your home derma roller
When you’re buying your first derma roller, you’re likely to be confused by the different sizes of needles. If you’re new to derma rolling at home, it is best to go with the smallest size, which is between 0.25mm and 0.5 mm.
While all needles will help your skin absorb skincare products better, here are the recommended purposes for different sizes:
- 0.25-0.5 mm: Use this as a part of your healthy ageing ritual, and for treating enlarged pores, fine lines
- 1mm: Use this for treating mild scars from acne, stretch marks, inelastic skin
- 1.5 mm: Use this to treat very deep scars from severe acne or surgery. However, it is best not to use this site unless you are experienced at using a derma roller at home.
Is it safe? Is it painful?
Yes, it is safe to use a derma roller at home if you follow all the right precautions (see below for a full list), learn how to use it the right way and keep your derma roller clean.
If you have sensitive skin, you might feel some pain. Most people do not feel anything except a light tingling.
The only two safety tips to remember are: Be gentle with your skin when rolling; and make sure to sterilize the roller, your face, and your hands.
How often should I use a derma roller?
If you’re just beginning, start with derma rolling once a week, or twice a month if you’re very sensitive.
How do I use a derma roller at home?
Okay, now that you’ve bought your derma roller, you should know how to use it.
- Avoid using any retinol products on your skin for 5 days before you use your derma roller.
- Sterilize your roller well before you begin, using an alcohol-based cleansing solution or rubbing alcohol.
- Clean the surface on which you’ll be laying down your roller or use a paper towel. You do not want your roller to pick up any bacteria and pass it on to your skin.
- Cleanse your face thoroughly before you begin. It is recommended that you wash your face and then wipe away any residue and bacteria with an antiseptic cleanser.
- Never run the roller over your eyelids. Keep about an inch away from your lower lash line.
- Run the derma roller lightly over your face in the following way, lifting the roller after each stroke to go back to the start point (which means don’t roll it back and forth on the same patch). Repeat each stroke 3 or 4 times.
Follow this pattern when using your derma roller at home:
- Mid-forehead to the right temple
- Mid-forehead to left temple
- Right under-eye towards the right ear
- Left under-eye towards left ear
- Right cheek, from the side of the nose to where the jawbone meets the ear
- Left cheek, from the side of the nose to where the jawbone meets the ear
- The right side of the mouth-to-ear
- Left side of the mouth to ear
- Mid-chin to the right jaw
- Mid-chin to left jaw
- Lightly across the upper lip
- Now go vertically on each side, jaw to under-eye, and from eyebrow to hairline. Repeat 2-3 times.
- Roll downwards and gently on the nose.
That’s it. Rinse your face with water and let it breathe for a few minutes while you clean your derma roller.
- Use warm water and a soapy solution to clean the roller – dishwashing liquid or soap is recommended to remove any residual skin or blood. Sterilize it by soaking it in rubbing alcohol for 10 minutes, then let it air-dry and put it away.
- Now it’s time for that lovely nourishing serum. Avoid using anything with retinol or Vitamin C as this might irritate your skin. Choose something gentle and moisturising.
- You might see some redness or swelling on your face in the hours after your derma rolling session. You may also see some mild peeling a few days later, but avoid pulling the peeling skin.
Here’s how you can get the most out of derma rolling
- Do your derma roll at night so that your skin has time to recover?
- Avoid using make-up the next day.
- Avoid the sun the next day if possible.
- Don’t introduce any new skin products after your derma rolling session.
How to use a derma roller on your body
A derma roller is not just for your face. Many people use it on body parts that need skin rejuvenation or to treat stretch marks or old scars. It can also be used to firm saggy skin or to improve the texture of the skin.
Stretch marks may appear with sudden weight gain or weight loss when the skin does not have enough time to adapt. If your body shrinks or expands faster than normal, the skin develops tears in the collagen that show up as stretch marks. For example, an expanding body during pregnancy or sudden weight loss after bariatric surgery may cause new stretch marks to appear.
Stretch marks may appear darker when new and turn lighter as time goes by. New stretch marks are more responsive to treatment so it is most effective to learn how to use derma roller treatment for recent marks.
To use a derma roller on stretch marks, follow these steps:
- Cleanse the area you plan to treat
- Use a hydrating serum to moisturise the area
- Run the derma roller across the skin with light pressure. Avoid going back and forth in the same area or applying firm pressure.
- Change the direction of the roller with each stroke.
- Do not roll more than 10-15 times.
- Follow with an application of serum.
- Disinfect the derma roller thoroughly and allow it to dry fully before putting it away.
- Repeat twice a week.
Using a derma roller on stretch marks may take a long time to show a difference. For most people, you can expect to see changes in 30-45 days but this depends on the age and intensity of the stretchmarks.
Here are some precautions to take note of:
- Avoid exposure to sun, chlorinated swimming pools or salty ocean water immediately after dermarolling your skin.
- Do not use the derma roller if you have skin that is tanned, sunburned, or peeling or you may risk hyperpigmentation on the area you have treated.
- It is recommended you do this at night so that you can wear light, soft clothing and allow your skin time to heal after treatment.
- Do not use chemical exfoliators on your skin before or after your microneedling session. A light nourishing lotion or gel is sufficient.
If you do your microneedling session at night, plan a quiet evening for yourself. Apply a soothing moisturiser, create a relaxing atmosphere with essential oils, drink a glass of water, and indulge in a light self-massage. After a good night’s sleep, your skin will show the results.
What is a derma stamp?
If you’re worried about how to use a derma roller at home or if you are a beginner, you might like to start with a derma stamp. This is built to be pressed lightly against your skin and not rolled. People with thin or very sensitive skin might be more comfortable with a derma stamp because it is easier to use.