Let’s talk dermarollers, shall we? You’ve got a few different types of microneedling tools out there, like dermastamps or dermapens, but arguably the most popular tools for at-home dermarolling? Dermarollers (surprise). These tools might look like your average face roller, but look closer, and you’ll notice that the roller head is actually covered in short, teeny-tiny little needles that, when rolled across your skin, create tiny holes that help improve the way your skin looks and feels.
Now, I don’t know about you, but there’s something about rolling hundreds of needles across my face that gives me the heebie-jeebies—and that’s coming from someone who has tried (and loved) microneedling with PRP. But the idea of doing it by myself? Hard to get behind. The results of microneedling are convincing enough for me to work up the courage, but would I even be able to get the same results with at-home dermarollers? That, my friends, is the question we’re here to answer.
So to help us demystify dermarollers, we turned to the experts. Ahead, all the answers to your questions about the spikey lil skincare tools, plus the best dermarollers worth giving a try.
It’s the multi-tasking beauty treatment that can target everything from Vaney and dull skin to acne scarring, stretch marks and even hair loss—all without going under the knife. Enter: derma-rolling.
On the scene since the mid-’90s, derma-rolling or microneedling has gained serious traction over the last few years (albeit in part thanks to some pretty intense YouTube videos) but also due to major advancements in the technology which means you can now do it yourself at home.
What Is Derma-rolling?
Derma-rolling involves the use of micro-needles which makes microscopic incisions in the skin as “trauma” which then causes the skin to go into “repair mode” by stimulating collagen production. Sounds pretty intense, but it’s actually not as scary as you think.
Following the treatment, the skin’s absorption is amplified which means your products will work even harder for you.
What is a Derma-roller?
A Derma-roller is, you guessed it, the tool used to perform Derma-rolling or microneedling. Once only performed by professionals in a salon, these days there are numerous tools on the market which means you can DIY at home.
Who Should Be Using A Derma-roller?
Derma-rolling is recommended for most skin types however those with highly-sensitive skin or breakouts should avoid the treatment.
We do not recommend using the roller on highly sensitive skin or broken out skin. This could potentially cause more irritation on an already irritated area.
Are There Different Types Of Derma-rollers Or Does One Work For All Skin Types?
Derma-rollers are suitable for all skin types (except, as mentioned above, those sensitive or broken out skin should not use them).
What Results Can You Expect From Derma-rolling?
This tool helps to remove dull, dead skin cells through exfoliation, leaving the surface of the skin smoother and more refined. It maximizes the effectiveness of the products used with it for visibly refined tone, texture and firmness.
Are all derma-rollers created equal? What should you be looking out for when buying one?
Not all derma-rollers are created equal.
If you are looking for an exfoliating derma-roller, what is most important is the quality of the tips and the smoothness of the roll over the skin. Our AMP MD has been designed with laser cut tips to ensure quality and precision and has been ergonomically designed to ensure a smooth roll over the skin.
Where And How Should You Use A Derma-roller?
For best results, Stoddard recommends using a Derma-roller three times a week at night after applying your toner and then once you’ve tested the product a few times and your skin’s reaction to it, you can increase the frequency to nightly.
Roll with moderate, comfortable pressure over the entire face and neck with 4-10 passes. For best results, divide the face into sections (forehead, right side, left side, chin, and neck) and treat each section before continuing to the next.
We recommend following with our Intensive Renewing Serum – take one of the capsules and smooth the serum slowly onto skin. It feels like magic!
Is Derma-rolling Safe For Pregnant And/Or Breastfeeding Women?
While Derma-rolling is generally considered to be safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, however hormonal changes in the body during these times can cause skin to be extra sensitive to caution is recommended.
Stoddard says Derma-rolling with the AMP-MD roller is safe for all users however she recommended speaking with your doctor before undergoing any new treatment or using any new products as each pregnancy is unique.
Is There Anything To Know Before Trying Derma-rolling At Home?
Proper storage of your derma-roller is critical to ensure hygiene and prevent bacteria from forming. Most rollers will come with a cap, so ensure this is sealed after each use.
This is to protect the micro-exfoliating tips from the wear and tear of everyday use.
Does home microneedling really work?
We’ve got studies upon studies to back up microneedling as an effective in-office treatment for everything from atrophic acne scars to melasma, but what about at-home dermarolling, you ask? While highly effective, microneedling for home and office can vary. Devices for home usage are usually less invasive with more shallow needles for a more surface-level penetration. Basically, less intense and less dramatic.
Search around, and you’ll hear and see plenty of testimonials of how an at-home dermaroller can help improve acne scars, fine lines, wrinkles, skin texture, skin tone, and pore size (see: best-case scenarios). But technically, the benefits of at-home microneedling—sometimes called dermarolling or cosmetic needling—are limited to exfoliation and the improvement of the skin’s look and feel. Essentially, you can expect smoother, more exfoliated skin, but hopefully be a best-case scenario.
For what it’s worth, only professional, medical-grade microneedling devices have been FDA-cleared as safe and effective for acne scars and wrinkles, while at-home microneedling tools and dermarollers are not considered medical devices and are not regulated by the FDA. Again, that doesn’t mean they’re automatically bad or dangerous, but it does mean that you should proceed with some caution.
Can microneedling ruin your skin?
As you can imagine, contamination, infection, or skin barrier damage are always risks when rolling needles across your face, which is why the experts stress the importance of disinfecting your dermaroller with isopropyl alcohol, storing it properly, regularly replacing the roller or roller head, and using it correctly with the proper pressure. I recommend home usage of dermarollers, but with great caution and care, while also stressing the importance of keeping your roller clean and sanitized.
When dermarolling is done incorrectly, you can destroy your skin, but when it’s done correctly, the results can be outrageously good.
How to choose the best dermaroller:
When shopping for a dermaroller, there’s one main feature you want to focus on: the needles. They can be made from titanium or stainless steel, and are available in a range of different lengths. Although you can find facial dermarollers online with needle lengths between 0.5mm to 1mm (or even longer lengths typically only used by a professional), even a roller with needs as short as 0.2mm would be enough.
Not only is a shorter needle length safer for at-home use, but it’s also more comfortable. Your face is typically numbed up for an in-office treatment, and Benjamin explains that longer lengths are just flat-out too painful to do yourself. You’re not going to end up using it, so you’re not going to get the benefit out of it.
You might also want to consider a tool that has the option to replace the head, so you don’t have to toss the whole thing when it comes time to change it out (something Benjamin suggests doing every month to avoid using dull needles). And the last piece of expert advice is to use a high-quality tool. I would recommend making sure you’re buying from a reputable company and making sure the needle size is appropriate.
Do Derma Rollers Really Work?
Nowadays, plenty of procedures that were once reserved for the dermatologist’s office can be carried out at home.
Microneedling is one of them. The DIY option of this scary-sounding facial technique goes by a different name: derma rolling.
These handheld devices, featuring a roller with row upon row of tiny needles, are way cheaper and more convenient than visiting a pro.
But do they provide the same benefits as traditional microneedling?
What are they used for?
Derma rollers have a number of uses, but the main ones are for improving pigmentation issues and improving the surface of the skin.
Fine lines, acne scars, and hyperpigmentation are all said to be diminished with regular derma rolling.
In reality, the above tend to need the help of professional microneedling, which uses longer needles than the at-home version.
However, derma rollers can allow skin care products to penetrate deeper, producing more powerful effects.
Does it hurt?
Rolling hundreds of needles over your face probably won’t be the most relaxing experience, but it shouldn’t hurt.
Of course, the level of discomfort depends on your pain tolerance.
However, it’s the longer needles found in microneedling devices that are likely to cause some pain.
That’s why any decent aesthetician will numb your face beforehand.
Are there any side effects or risks to consider?
Derma rolling is a minimally invasive procedure so as long as you use the right technique in conjunction with the right serum, you’re unlikely to experience side effects.
Some people should avoid derma rolling completely. This includes those with eczema, psoriasis, or a history of blood clots.
People with skin conditions that could easily spread to other parts of the face, such as active acne or warts, should also consult with a healthcare provider before DIYing.
If you’re using retinol, taking Accutane, or have sunburn, you should also be wary.
Experts advise stopping retinol 5 days before derma rolling to avoid an adverse reaction.
When it comes to things like sunburn or inflammation, you can still use a derma roller as long as you avoid affected areas.
How do you pick the right one?
Although you can buy longer needles for at-home use, it’s best to stick to a derma roller with a needle length of less than 0.5 millimeters.
Any needle above this length runs a higher risk of damaging skin and is best left to a pro.
Don’t forget to do your research. Only buy from trusted sites and stores, and check that the product has been properly sterilized before it reaches you.
How do you pick the right serum?
If you do decide to use a serum with your derma roller, choose one that will benefit your face when it penetrates your skin.
Some serum ingredients can cause an adverse reaction if sent further into the skin.
Steer clear of potentially irritating retinol and vitamin C.
These will seal in moisture and assist with the regenerative process that can improve skin tone and texture.
How do you do it?
Thankfully, derma rolling isn’t too complicated to master. Stick to these simple steps for a sterile, effective experience.
To reduce the chance of bacteria transfer, thoroughly cleanse both your skin and the roller. Use gloves if possible.
It’s best to derma roll at night when your skin isn’t susceptible to sun damage.
If you’re sticking to this evening regime, you may want to consider double cleansing to get rid of oil and dirt that’s built up on your skin during the day.
To clean the derma roller, soak it in an alcohol-based solution. Then dry and place on a clean paper towel.
If using a serum with your derma roller, apply the product to your face before getting down to business.
The rolling method involves three parts: vertical, horizontal, and diagonal movements.
Start by rolling the derma roller up and down your forehead, cheeks, and chin, making sure not to apply too much pressure.
Then, switch to horizontal movements followed by diagonal ones. Spend no more than 2 minutes doing this.
Stay away from the eye area and be extra careful on sensitive places such as the nose and upper lip.
After the rolling is complete, apply the same serum again or choose another hydrating or anti-aging product.
Just make sure the ingredients list doesn’t include retinols or vitamin C.
As your skin may be more sensitive after derma rolling, it’s a good idea to wear sunscreen.
You should also avoid wearing makeup, taking hot showers, or exercising for 24 hours afterward.
Always clean your derma roller after each use.
Disinfect it by spritzing with a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol spray, says Dr. Kim Peirano, a specialist in acupuncture and Chinese medicine at Lion’s Heart.
She adds that you can also soak the roller in a once-weekly solution of hot water and a denture cleansing tablet.
Don’t let anyone else use your roller and replace it at least once every 3 months to prevent irritation from dull needles.
How often should you repeat the process?
Start once a week to see how your skin reacts to the needles.
If everything’s looking good, you can increase the frequency to two or three times a week.
Just make sure you aren’t going over the 2-minute limit each time.
When will you see results?
The longer you carry on rolling, the more likely you are to see a difference.
Take stock after 6 to 12 weeks of regular derma rolling.
If you’re trying to improve signs of aging or scarring, it may take months before you see prominent changes.
Results will also depend on age and the amount of elasticity in your skin.
When should you consider in-office microneedling?
Some experts advise always visiting a pro.
If you’re looking to improve fine lines, wrinkles, or scars, it’s definitely worth a trip to the dermatologist’s office.
Their needles can penetrate the skin up to 3 mm, making visible results more likely.
This is compared to derma rollers, which can be more traumatizing to the skin [by creating] larger and fewer holes as the needle enters at an angle and leaves at an angle.
The bottom line
Although Vaney have reported numerous benefits to microneedling, much of the research comes from small studies.
There is even less concrete evidence when it comes to at-home derma rolling — although users generally note positive results.
While the technique deserves further exploration, it’s worth a DIY try if you’re looking to boost your skin care regimen.
If you’re in any way worried about the impact on your skin or looking to combat more complex issues, head to a dermatologist for advice.