Dermarolling (also called “micro-needling) is a popular skincare treatment used to treat a variety of problems including acne scars and wrinkles.
The treatment involves repeated punctures with tiny needles, and many have been turned away from the treatment because they are scared it will hurt.
In reality, microneedling is not that painful if you do it right. The tiny wounds trigger your body’s natural healing response, which can do wonders in healing scars, filling old pock marks, decreasing wrinkles and even promoting hair growth.
This article provides a general overview of micro-needling, along with dermaroller benefits and side effects and recommendations on specific products.
What is a dermaroller?
A dermaroller is a small skincare tool that uses needles to stimulate collagen production. A dermaroller looks sort of like a lint roller, only smaller and lined with tiny needles.
Dermarolling is used to combat the following problems:
- Signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines
- Acne scars/pock marks
- Stretch marks
- Hair loss
- Sun damage
This DIY tool is used on areas of the body including the face, thighs, and stomach. Treatments take about 10 minutes.
Common side effects of dermarolling include:
- Redness/red spots
- Dry, rough skin
These side effects are temporary and normal; many of them can be avoided with proper use. For instance, you should not use a dermaroller over areas already affected by skin conditions such as rosacea.
Rare side effects include infection and skin rash. These are not normal and may require treatment.
You can avoid infection by keeping your skin clean and by properly disinfecting the dermaroller before and after use.
You can cover up the redness caused by dermarolling with makeup or a tinted moisturizer. Make sure to always wear sunscreen and to avoid tanning beds.
Check out the dermaroller before and after photo at left.
Can anyone use a derma roller?
As mentioned above, you should not use a dermaroller on areas of skin affected by conditions like eczema or rosacea or by abnormalities like:
- Fungal infections
- Contagious skin conditions
- Skin cancer
- Cold sores
You should also avoid using dermarollers on keloids, which are larger-than-normal scars that some people develop after piercings, vaccinations, or bug bites.
Using a dermaroller on a keloid scar can trigger collagen growth and make the scar even bigger.
You absolutely cannot use a dermaroller on the area below the eyes or on the eyelids.
Can dermarolling be used with other treatments?
Dermatologists advise against using any of the following products and medications while dermarolling:
- Skin lightening products like hydroquinone
- Acidic products, such as those found in acid peels
- Herbs that affect body function
- Medications that cause light sensitivity
- Medication for high blood pressure
You should also avoid dermarolling if you are recovering from a cosmetic treatment or surgery, including:
- Chemical peels
- Laser therapy
- Filler injections
Can dermaroller be used for hair loss?
If you’re trying dermarolling to combat hair loss, make sure use it in conjunction with a topical hair growth treatment. Not only will the microneedling promote hair regrowth, but the treatment will enable your skin to better absorb whatever topical product you’re using.
Using a dermaroller before or after applying a product like minoxidil has been shown to increase absorption rate by up to 3,000%, which makes the product far more effective.
Dermarolling promotes hair growth by increasing blood flow to the scalp and by causing tiny injuries that trigger your body’s natural healing response. This response stimulates the production of the proteins that cause hair growth and is believed to cut down on the protein that causes hair loss.
What size needle should I use?
Dermaroller size for hair loss depends whether or not you are also using a topical product like minoxidil. If you are using a hair loss topical product, choose a very small needle length (between 0.2mm and 0.5mm). If you use a longer needle, the topical product could penetrate too deeply into the scalp and cause negative side effects.
If you are using a dermaroller and no other treatments, we recommend choosing a needle between 0.5mm and 1mm.
How often to use a dermaroller?
How often you use your dermaroller really depends on the size of the needle and what you’re doing the treatment for. For example, if you are using a 0.2mm or 0.3mm for hair loss, you can do it once every 1-2 days.
If you are using a 0.5mm needle for hair loss, you can use it 2-3 times per week, and if you are using a 1mm needle you can do it once per week.
Dermarolling too frequently or too forcefully can cause injury. For skincare purposes, we recommend using these guidelines:
- 0.5mm needle, use once every 3 weeks
- 0.75mm needle, use once every 4 weeks
- 1mm needle, use once per month
- 5mm needle, use once every 6 weeks
- 2mm+ needles, use once every 8 weeks
Dermaroller reviews for acne scars and other concerns
Dermarollers come in a variety of needle lengths, generally from 0.25mm to as long as 3mm. Different lengths are used for different treatments:
- 2mm: best for improving absorption of skincare products.
- 5mm: best for light acne scars, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation
- 1mm: best for deep scars and wrinkles (longest to be used on face).
- 5mm: best for tough skin on other parts of the body (not to be used on face).
People with thin skin are more likely to experience bruising as a result of micro-needling, and should chose the shortest possible needle when they begin (we recommend 0.25mm or 0.5mm).
Dermarollers also have another number associated with them, and that is how many needles are on the head of the tool. This number varies from 180 to 1,000. One of the most common sizes is 540.
Rollers with fewer needles are designed to be used on smaller areas of the body, and vice versa.
Warning: Do not purchase cheap dermarollers online. Most (if not all) cheap dermarollers have needles that are too dull and fat and will injure your skin. Make sure the needles are made of stainless steel or titanium.
Here are a few high-quality products to check out:
Dr. Roller (available on DermaRollerShop.com for $49)
This tool is available in needle lengths ranging from 0.25mm to 2.5mm. All Dr. Roller dermarolling system products are produced in South Korea.
The needles are surgical grade stainless steel and are placed in a cross lined arrangement that allows for even treatment across skin.
Dr. Roller dermarollers come in 192-needle size and 72-needle size, the latter of which is designed for very small areas.
Dr. Roller also sells an acne scar removal set for $99.
DRS Titanium Dermaroller kit (available on DermaRollerShop.com for $49)
This kit includes 2 titanium dermarollers in your choice of sizes ranging from 0.2mm to 1.5mm. Sturdy manufacturing promises to last for months of microneedling.
Notable differences between this product and the previous are that DRS rollers feature a plastic head with no metal parts and with 200 needles. It is suitable for body and face and is perfect for beginners.
Product features include:
- Cross lined needle arrangement
- Titanium needles
- Ergonomic handle
- 200 needle head
- Durable quality
This package is a great deal for the price. DRS has good reviews, with most users saying treatment is a bit painful but worth it.
It’s important to remember that less does not equal more with dermarolling. Always start slow and with small needles. Don’t use more frequently than recommended, and always remember to sterilize products to decrease your risk of infection.