Read This Before You Use an At-Home Microneedling Tool

Roll on, but follow these tips first.

Microneedle tools sitting on wooden plank
Photo: Anastasiia Shiff/Getty Images

The concept of microneedling — an in-office skincare treatment that involves puncturing the face with tiny needles — is intimidating in itself. So DIY-ing the procedure at home understandably seems terrifying. But, with the right derma roller and expert tips, microneedling at home can be a cost-effective way to smoother, firmer skin.

To find out exactly how to microneedle at home, along with which derma roller is best for your skin concerns, we turned to Jordana Mattioli, licensed esthetician at CompleteSkinMD in New York City, to get her expert insight.

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What Is Microneedling?

A microneedling device looks like a paint roller covered in spikes. The tiny needles puncture the skin as you run it over your face. Piercing the skin with tiny holes stimulates collagen production and essentially kick starts the skin's natural healing process. This is what makes microneedling such an effective method of minimizing acne scars and signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles.

Using a derma roller can also help your skincare products work better. "These tiny punctures allow skincare ingredients to penetrate faster than they would on their own, therefore making changes in your skin faster," explains Mattioli.

What's the Difference Between In-Office and At-Home Microneedling?

While in-office treatments are usually done with an electric or battery-operated device that can resemble a traditional roller or pen, at-home microneedling is most commonly performed with manual derma rollers. The main difference between an esthetician or dermatologist performing the procedure versus doing it yourself is that the professional version will use longer needles that go much deeper into the skin to treat acne scars, wrinkles, and other skin damage.

"The at-home microneedling rollers simply get rolled onto the skin. There are tiny needles that make punctures on the skin, but the at-home versions will just get your skin a little pink. They aren't deep enough where you'll see blood droplets," says Mattioli. "At-home microneedling with a roller isn't going deep enough to treat deep scars or deep wrinkles, but they will absolutely improve the texture of skin and make those deep wrinkles or scars look a little better."

Mattioli says there are two ways at-home treatments will improve skin conditions: the needles penetrate just deep enough to stimulate your skin's epidermal growth factors to boost collagen and, they can help the topical skincare products you apply after microneedling penetrate deeper for enhanced results.

So, How Do I Know Which Derma Roller to Buy?

A foolproof way to purchase the right derma roller for your skincare needs is to first consult your esthetician or dermatologist for their recommendations on needle length and ask for a quick tutorial on how to use it.

If you can't talk to a medical professional, Mattioli recommends researching brands, reading reviews, and choosing the correct needle length. Don't settle on a deal to save money, because you won't always end up with a quality derma roller.

To ensure you won't break or tear the skin, Mattioli says to stick with rollers that have needles that are either .2mm, .25mm, or .3mm. "Never go over .3mm for the face," she says. Her favorite microneedlers are from Environ, one of the first brands to make these devices available for at-home use.

How Do You Actually Use a Microneedling Device?

While you can use a microneedler on all skin types, Mattioli stresses that you should never use one if you have active acne, extremely sensitive skin, rosacea, cold sores, or cuts. She also suggests doing the treatment at night since your skin will get a little pink from doing it, and to start off using a derma roller once a week at first, working up to three to five times a week.

After you've cleansed and applied your serum of choice to your skin, apply gentle pressure to roll the microneedler over your skin vertically, horizontally, and diagonally. "You should do two to four passes vertically, followed by two to four rolls horizontally on the same section. Then, move on to the next area," Mattioli says. Next, apply a second layer of serum (it can be the same one you used pre-rolling or a different product).

Once you've covered your entire face, she recommends waiting a few minutes before applying any other creams or lotions. Also, since microneedling enhances product absorption, it's best to use caution when applying certain active ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids or retinols because they can irritate the skin.

How Do I Keep My Microneedler Clean?

As soon as you're done using your derma roller, sterilize it in alcohol or specialized cleaner for three to five minutes and let it air-dry before storing it back in its container.

It's also important to replace your derma roller once its time is up. "Replace the roller every month if you are using it frequently," says Mattioli. "Your first roller will last about three months, but if you're using it a few times a week, you'll want to get a new one every month since the needles will get dull."

Now, roll on with one of the following five microneedling tools.

ORA Microneedle Face & Full Body Roller Kit

ORA Microneedle Face & Full Body Roller Kit

For a full-body microneedling experience, this six-piece kit is your best bet. It includes different sized attachments for small spots like the under eyes and large areas like the stomach.

To buy: $90;

BEAUTYBIO GloPRO Microneedling Regeneration Tool

BEAUTYBIO GloPRO Microneedling Regeneration Tool

It's the microneedler you've seen all over Instagram, but this fan-favorite micro-exfoliation tool lives up to the hype. It was actually made by the inventor and patent-holder of microneedling technology. On top of minimizing fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and uneven skin texture, it has a built-in LED red light and vibration feature that helps speed up the skin's regeneration process, so you see results faster.

To buy: $199;

Nurse Jamie Beauty Stamp

Nurse Jamie Beauty Stamp

Instead of rolling this tool, you gently stamp it on your face. The 0.2-millimeter needles leave teeny-tiny pricks in your skin, which sets the outermost layer of your skin into repair mode and leaves you with a firmer, smoother complexion. Bonus: Your favorite serums will penetrate the skin deeper.

To buy: $40;

Rodan+Fields Redefine Amp It Up Special

Rodan+Fields Redefine Amp It Up Special

If you can't figure out what skincare products go with microneedling, Rodan+Fields has you covered. This set includes a derma-roller, a cleaner for the tool, plus a firming toner, face mask, serum capsules, and daytime and nighttime moisturizers.

To buy: $400;

ORA Face Microneedle Dermal Roller System 0.5mm

ORA Face Microneedle Dermal Roller System 0.5mm

Consider this simple, but effective derma roller your microneedling training wheels. The small needles painlessly prick skin to boost collagen and elastin to tighten skin and even out tone.

To buy: $38;

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