Complete Derma Rolling Guide

When it comes to skincare routines and treatments, there are lots of options to choose from. A lot of people visit spas and derma clinics for regular skincare procedures, and one of those is micro-needling or also known as derma rolling. Putting needles in the skin sounds like something that is uncomfortable as it punctures wounds on the skin. In fact, you can never be certain how people are going to react when you say that you enjoy rolling needles into your face. 

Some people might think how inserting hundreds of little needles into the face can be relaxing, and why would others want to do that anyway. While it might sound crazy at first, derma rolling actually comes with a lot of benefits for the skin. Aside from visiting derma clinics and spas, derma rolling can be done at home, too.  In fact, derma rolling is like the DIY version of micro-needling but a little less invasive. If you are curious about this skincare procedure, we are here to help you. In this post, we are giving you a complete derma rolling guide.

What is Derma Rolling?

person undergoing a derma rolling treatment

Derma rolling is also referred to as micro-needling or collagen induction therapy. It is a cosmetic procedure wherein thousands of tiny needles are inserted into the surface of the skin by using a rolling or stamping device. The process of derma rolling uses a derma roller device to puncture the skin gently so that skincare products can penetrate deeper. It is commonly done to help dark spots fade and rough spots on the face to smooth over.[2

This skincare procedure works by creating microscopic wounds on the skin that encourage collagen and elastin production. Collagen is the richest protein found in the body. It is responsible for holding together connective tissues, such as skin, tendons, muscles, bones, and cartilage. As people age, it is believed that collagen production slows down, which leads to skin thinning and impaired barrier function.[1

Even though derma rolling may sound alarming, it is actually a minimally invasive procedure that causes little to no downtime. However, the recovery process of this cosmetic procedure depends on the size of the needles used. The lengthier the needles, the deeper the wound, which also means a longer recovery time.[1]

Benefits of Derma Rolling

woman enjoying a derma rolling procedure

A derma roller has hundreds of tiny needles that create micro-injuries on the skin to send collagen and elastin production into overdrive to compensate as it heals. The process leaves a person’s complexion tighter and plumper than it was before. In addition to that, when this skin care procedure is done in conjunction with a serum, it can boost ingredient absorption.[3]

Even though derma rolling can draw blood, it is still considered a minimally invasive procedure. Some people might compare the feeling to rubbing sandpaper on the skin. This is because longer needles may cause more pain, but everyone’s tolerance to pain varies. 

Derma rolling is not recommended for people in their 20s unless they have a specific skin condition that warrants it, like acne scarring. When a person enters their 30s, they may experience the decline and degradation of collagen. That is why needling is a practical option for them. However, once the skin is very thin with age, it is less advantageous to needle.[4] 

If you decide to use a derma roller, below are a few potential benefits that you might get from it:[4]

  • Diminishes the appearance of wrinkles, stretch marks, and fine lines
  • Rejuvenates and brightens the skin
  • Reduces acne scarring
  • Thickens the skin
  • Reduces discoloration of the skin
  • Enhances product absorption
  • Stimulates hair follicle growth

However, take note that derma rolling might not be suitable for people who have autoimmune diseases, psoriasis, diabetes, and eczema. Allergies, medications, and lifestyles also come into play. Therefore, before you opt to try needling, it is important to do your research first to make sure that it is suitable for you.[4] If you are unsure, always consult a dermatologist or esthetician first.

Choosing a Derma Roller

a white derma roller

As mentioned earlier, the process of derma rolling is done through the use of a derma roller. When it is rolled onto the skin, it creates hundreds of tiny wounds.  The type of derma roller you need to choose depends on the results that you want. Below are some of the important factors you need to consider when choosing a derma roller:

1. Needle Length

The length of the needle to choose mainly depends on the skin concern that you wish to solve through derma rolling. Take a look at the chart below to learn more about this:[4]

Skin Concerns Needle Length (mm)
Surface-level acne 1 mm
Deep acne scars 1.5 mm
Enlarged pores 0.25 to 0.5 mm
Blemishes 0.25 to 0.5 mm
Skin discoloration 0.2 to 1 mm (start small)
Sun damage or saggy skin 0.5 to 1.5 mm (a combination of both is best)
Stretch marks 1.5 to 2 mm (do not try using 2mm at home)
Surgical scars 1.5 mm
Uneven skin tone or texture 0.5 mm
Wrinkles or fine lines 0.5 mm to 1.5 mm
Hair loss on the scalp 0.5 mm to 1.5 mm

Even though derma rolling works on some blemishes, it can’t treat pink blemishes or redness. Also, it is not recommended to be used during acne breakouts.[4]

2. Stainless Steel vs. Titanium Rollers

two black derma rollers

There are two types of materials used for derma roller needles. One is titanium, and the other one is stainless steel. If you want a sturdy roller, you can pick titanium, as it is a tougher alloy and more durable. The needles will not dull fast and will last longer.

Stainless steel needles, on the other hand, are more sterile. Even though the needles will dull faster, these are the same needles used by medical professionals, tattoo artists, and acupuncturists. Both types of needles work fine when it comes to derma rolling. The one to choose depends mainly on your personal preferences.[4]

Price

When browsing your options, you will find derma rollers to be priced from under $10 to more than $100. Sometimes it is tempting to pick those that are in luxurious-looking packaging, which is commonly more expensive. However, some of them do not necessarily offer any additional benefits. There are times when a mid-range option can get the job done. 

However, it is also important to research and buy a derma roller that has real needles and not metal barbs. If you are going to buy online, make sure that you check all of the photos and read the reviews to ensure that you are getting a quality product. Also, once you receive the roller that you ordered, take a close look to make sure that everything is in order. It’s because it is also possible to receive a very cheap one with rust and bent needles.[4]

To further help you choose, below are some examples of derma rollers that you might want to try:

  • Lexi White Beauty Derma Roller: This derma roller can be used by both men and women to improve the appearance of dull-looking skin. It has 0.25mm titanium needles, which is a good length to provide the perfect amount of penetration.
  • Sdara Skincare Derma Roller: This is a simple and safe-to-use derma roller. It has 0.25mm needles which can be used not only on the face but as well as on the scalp or beard to help stimulate hair and beard growth. It can help you save from expensive micro-needling sessions.
  • YaFex 6-in-1 Derma Roller Kit for Face and Body: This is a derma roller kit that includes 3 titanium needle roller heads, a small stamp head, a silicone face cleaning brush head, and a storage case with disinfecting basin. It comes with five different replaceable heads that are ideal for the face and whole body to meet different skin treatment needs. The needles range from 0.25mm to 0.29mm, which are safe for home use. 

How to Use a Derma Roller at Home Safely

woman using a derma roller on her face

Since the use of needles is involved when derma rolling, staying safe should be your number one concern when doing it at home. If you want to try derma rolling at home, below are the things that you need:

  • Derma roller
  • 70% isopropyl alcohol
  • Cleanser
  • Numbing cream (optional)
  • Follow-up serum

Below are the methods that you can follow to derma roll at home safely:

1. Disinfect the Derma Roller

Before you start the procedure, make sure that you disinfect your derma roller first. Let it soak in 70% isopropyl alcohol for about 5 to 10 minutes before using it on your skin. 

2. Wash Your Face

Aside from disinfecting the derma roller that you will use, it is also very important to clean your face. First, clean your skin using a gentle pH-balanced cleanser, and then cleanse it again. You might also want to try wiping your face with 70% isopropyl alcohol before you begin rolling to make sure that it is clean.

4. Apply Some Numbing Cream if Needed

If you are sensitive to pain, you may consider applying some numbing cream after washing your face. You will surely want to apply some if you have advanced your treatment to using longer needles. Derma rolling can be mildly uncomfortable, depending on the depth and caliber of the needles used. If you wish to apply some numbing cream, do so 30 minutes before the procedure.[5]

5. Begin Rolling

Before you start derma rolling, divide your face mentally into four sections, avoiding the eye area completely. The sections are upper left, upper right, lower left, and lower right. Firmly but gently roll over one area in one direction two to three times. This can be done either vertically or horizontally. Make sure to lift the roller before each roll. 

For instance, if you have started vertically, after covering one section two to three times this way, move the roller a bit and repeat until you have covered the whole section in that one direction. After that, go back and repeat the whole process horizontally, using a cross-hatch pattern.[5

6. Rinse Your Face

When you’ve finished derma rolling, rinse your face using clean water. After that, pat it dry using a clean pad. 

7. Sanitize the Derma Roller After Use

After using the derma roller, wash it using dishwasher soap. Then, soak it in the 70% isopropyl alcohol for 10 minutes and put it back in its case. Also, do not wait too long before replacing your roller. It should be replaced with a new one after 10 to 15 uses. Therefore, if you are rolling several days a week, you might need to get a new roller once every month.[5]

After derma rolling, you can proceed with your skincare routine. However, avoid using chemical exfoliates or harsh chemicals like salicylic acid, tretinoin, or benzoyl peroxide to prevent negative skin reactions. 

Best Types of Serums to Use after Derma Rolling

a derma roller with a bottle of serum

Since derma rolling can enhance product absorption, after the procedure is the best time to get the most out of the serums or masks that you have at home. After derma rolling, products that hydrate, heal, and boost collagen can reach deeper into the skin and deliver more dramatic results.[4] If you wish to use serums after derma rolling, below are the ingredients that you need to look for to get the best results:[5]

1. Hyaluronic Acid

Serums that contain hyaluronic acid are great is they can help attract and retain moisture on the skin. Applying these types of serums after derma rolling can help plump and hydrate the skin.[5] Below are some examples of serums with hyaluronic acid to help you pick:

  • Cerave Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Face: This serum is lightweight and hydrating. It contains vitamin B5 to help soothe the skin. It continuously releases moisturizing ingredients when applied to the skin, and it provides 24-hour lasting hydration. It is suitable for dry skin, sensitive skin, oily skin, and acne-prone skin.
  • Cosmedica Skincare Hyaluronic Acid Serum: This is a natural and organic hyaluronic acid serum that can help improve skin texture and brightness. It is gentle on the skin and effective. This serum is paraben-free, oil-free, and does not contain any dye, fragrance, or filler.
  • Tree of Life Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Facial Serum: This is a lightweight serum that can lock in moisture on the skin to plump, soothe, and support elasticity and achieve silky, smooth skin. This product is cruelty-free and dermatologist-tested. It is also packed with thoughtfully-chosen ingredients for the skin.

2. Peptides

Copper peptides are naturally occurring complexes in the skin. When it is applied topically, it has been found to increase the production of collagen.[5] This makes it a good type of serum to be applied to the skin after derma rolling. Below are a few examples of serums with peptides to help you choose:

  • Advanced Clinicals Peptide Facial Serum: This peptide serum can increase skin hydration by 88%. In just a week, it can make the skin feel softer, smoother, and firmer. It contains 6 powerful peptides, which are proven to diminish the look of premature aging and improve the elasticity of the skin. It is also enriched with 13 organic antioxidant botanicals to fight free radicals and brighten the skin. It is lightweight and non-greasy, which can refresh and hydrate rough and dry skin.
  • Eva Naturals Collagen Peptide Serum: This is an anti-wrinkle serum that can plump the skin, face, and lips. It uses hyaluronic acid, hazel, and jojoba to help hydrate and even out the skin. It can also help lessen dark spots, age spots, freckles, and sun spots when it penetrates deeply into the skin.
  • Neogold 6X Anti-Aging Peptide Serum: This is a powerful serum that is loaded with 6x peptides to reduce the signs of premature aging. It can soften wrinkles, target crow’s feet, and reduce dark circles and puffiness around the eyes. It is a weightless hydrating serum that absorbs into the skin quickly to refresh and brighten it. It can be used on its own or layer with additional skincare products.

3. Growth Factors

These are proteins that promote the production of healthy cells and tissues. They bind to the skin cells and signal to repair and rejuvenate the skin. For derma rolling, growth factors act hand-in-hand with thickening the skin.[5] Below are a few examples of serums with growth factors to help you pick:

  • Osmosis Skincare Growth Factor Anti-Aging Serum: This serum is powered by essential growth factors, collagen, and elastic precursors. It can rejuvenate the skin and protect it in order to achieve visibly younger-looking skin. Two pumps of this serum can be applied on clean skin in the morning and evening.
  • ZO SKIN HEALTH Growth Factor Serum Plus: This serum can help reduce the appearance of expression lines, fine lines, and wrinkles. It also strengthens weak skin and minimizes irritation. It restores hydration and enforces the protective barrier of the skin. It is cruelty-free and helps promote healthier and brighter skin.
  • Le Mieux TGF-B Booster Triple Growth Factor Facial Serum: This is a silky and hydrating serum that helps improve the appearance of facial contours. It also reduces fine lines and wrinkles for healthy and glowing skin. It has 4 potent peptides, 5 proteins, algae extract, superoxide dismutase antioxidant, and ginkgo biloba. It also has a hydrating base of hyaluronic acid. It does not contain any binders, thickeners, fillers, sulfates, or parabens. 

The Effects of Derma Rolling

The results of derma rolling vary depending on the unique nature of a person’s skin and the length of needles used. After derma rolling, below are some of the things that you may experience:[4]

  • Skin redness or sensitivity for about 30 minutes to 2 hours
  • A sunburn-like feeling
  • Minor swelling
  • Increased blood circulation

If longer needles were used, you might expect increased redness and sensitivity. In some cases, mild redness may be experienced for 2 to 3 days. Some may also experience peeling or discomfort. If this occurs, never touch your face. Just use plenty of moisturizers and let the healing take its course.[4]

After the derma rolling, you can see an immediate glow. But like many beauty procedures, in order to see a drastic change in your skin after derma rolling, being consistent is important. You can begin derma rolling once a week to build up the tolerance of your skin. After that, work your way up to thrice a week for continued results.[2]

Also, as with any skincare procedure, there are potential side effects, particularly if the derma roller is not used properly. However, its side effects are only mild, such as irritation, bleeding, peeling, and bruising.[3] But in case an infection occurs, make sure that you consult your dermatologist immediately.

Conclusion

Derma rolling or micro-needling at home probably is not something that most skin experts would recommend. But if you are decided to incorporate it into your skincare routine, make sure that you proceed with caution and do your research. 

Also, even though some dermatologists have reported numerous benefits to micro-needling, much of those research is from small studies. There is even less concrete evidence when it comes to at-home derma rolling. But most users generally experience positive results. 

While derma rolling still needs further exploration and studies, it is worth a try if you are looking for a treatment that can boost your skin care regimen. If you are worried about the impact of derma rolling on your skin or looking to solve other complex skin issues, it is important to consult a dermatologist to get the right advice and treatments for your skin. We hope this post helped you learn more about derma rolling. 

References

[1] Cobb, C. (Ed.). (2022, September 8). A Scientific, DIY Guide to derma rolling. Healthline. Retrieved January 23, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/derma rolling-how-it-works-before-and-after#how-does-it-work 

[2] Hall, C. (2020, June 12). What is derma rolling, and is it safe for my skin? Marie Claire Magazine. Retrieved January 23, 2023, from https://www.marieclaire.com/beauty/a32690022/what-is-derma rolling/

[3] Hoff, V. (2022, December 10). New to derma rolling? here’s everything you need to know. Byrdie. Retrieved January 23, 2023, from https://www.byrdie.com/how-to-use-a-derma-roller#toc-what-are-the-benefits-of-derma rolling  

[4] Hullett, A. (2020, October 26). Derma rolling 101: Everything (yes, everything) you need to know. Greatist. Retrieved January 23, 2023, from https://greatist.com/health/derma rolling#benefits 

[5] Konstantinovsky, M. (2019, April 27). Micro-needling at home: How often should you do it for benefits? Healthline. Retrieved January 23, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/micro-needling-at-home#aftercare