Dermarolling Your Scalp Is Proven to Increase Hair Growth and Thickness — Here's How to Do It
If you're a skincare enthusiast, you've probably heard of or even tried dermarolling, which is an at-home skincare treatment that utilizes a device with tiny needles to puncture the skin to boost collagen, improve product absorption, and even fade dark spots.
But as it turns out, the benefits of using a dermaroller extend beyond basic skincare — it can also be beneficial for scalp health. According to Helen Reavey, celebrity hairstylist and founder of the haircare brand Act+Acre, scalp dermarolling can help promote healthy hair growth.
So after seeing a video of Reavey dermarolling, we were curious to find out how exactly it helps as well as the right way to do it, considering dermarolling admittedly isn't the most relaxing skincare experience for many of us. Ahead, we spoke with Reavey and other trichologists to answer our questions and learn more about the benefits of scalp dermarolling.
What Are the Benefits of Scalp Dermarolling?
According to our experts, there are plenty of benefits of dermarolling the scalp — both as a DIY at-home treatment or in tandem with other hair growth therapies.
"Dermarolling the scalp is essentially the process of causing controlled superficial trauma to the skin to trigger increased blood flow and growth factors as part of the healing process," says Afope Atoyebi, a certified trichologist. "When used correctly, the increased blood flow and release of growth factors can stimulate hair growth as well as increase the thickness and density of the hair."
Reavey explains that the micro-tears caused in the skin cause the body to produce stem cells, which speeds up the production of natural growth hormones that promote hair growth. "Hair grows at half an inch per month, maximum and slower sometimes if you aren't getting enough nutrients in your diet, stress, or have some scalp concerns," says Reavey. "Dermarolling and using scalp treatments is the only way to speed up hair growth."
Similar to skincare, the tiny punctures in the skin also help with product absorption, which is why dermarolling the scalp is proven beneficial when combined with haircare products and other treatments.
"When rolled over the scalp or hairline, a dermaroller makes it easier for the active ingredients of topicals and oils to reach the hair follicles," says Gretchen Friese, a certified trichologist of BosleyMD.
Dr. Azadeh Shirazi, a board-certified dermatologist, agrees and says, on its own, dermarolling brings blood flow and nutrients to the scalp and stimulates growth factors. When combined with other treatments, the results are also promising.
A recent study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology showed that combining micro-needling (the professional version of dermarolling) and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) increased hair growth. Over 75 percent of the patients in the study also said they were satisfied with their results after the first session. "The study showed an increase in the number of new and total hairs and an increase in the hair shaft diameter," says Dr. Shirazi.
In addition to increased hair growth, density, and thickness, a dermaroller can also encourage collagen production, stimulate cell turnover, and improve scalp circulation, which provides a healthier environment for hair to grow, says Friese.
Can All Hair and Scalp Types Use a Dermaroller?
"Dermarolling (when used with the correct methods and in the correct context) can be beneficial to most people," says Atoyebi. More specifically, those with fine, thin hair or even a healthy scalp will see the benefits of dermarolling the scalp. However, Atoyebi explains that it's most effective for those in the early stages of hair loss and less for those experiencing late stages of hair loss or total baldness.
Similarly, dermarolling could be problematic for those who have seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis. "Given that scalp conditions like these are already inflammatory responses, the added inflammation caused as part of the dermarolling process could worsen the condition or result in an infection," Atoyebi tells InStyle.
"If you have inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis, dandruff, eczema, scalp acne, it's best to see your dermatologist and treat these conditions before dermarolling," advises Dr. Shirazi.
How Do You Use a Dermaroller on the Scalp?
The first step in scalp dermarolling is choosing the right tool. "Dermarolling with needles between 0.8 to 1.5 millimeters are generally quite safe to use," says Atoyebi. "Using needles that exceed this length can go too deep into the dermis and damage the hair follicle and worsen the condition the dermarolling intended to remedy."
Next, Reavey says it's best to use a dermaroller on a clean, wet scalp. "First, part the hair and then roll front to back once, and then side to side without applying too much pressure." Repeat this process all over your head in sections. "Parting the hair will help to ensure the needles can puncture the scalp adequately without getting caught in the hair and potentially damaging it," adds Atoyebi. You can rollover the same area about four to five times, recommends Friese.
Once you've finished, following up with the proper scalp and haircare is necessary because the scalp will now easily absorb whatever you put on it. Opt for a product that targets any of your hair concerns. For example, if you experience androgenetic alopecia, Friese says you'll want to follow up with a product formulated with minoxidil like the BosleyMD Hair Regrowth Treatment ($40, ulta.com).
To maintain hair health and growth, you can also opt for a hydrating serum. We recommend the Act+Acre Cold Processed Stem Cell Serum ($85, revolve.com), which is a lightweight formula that feels refreshing on the scalp and also helps reduce hair thinning, dryness, fallout, and protects against sun damage and pollution.
How Often Should You Use a Dermaroller on the Scalp?
"It depends on the length of the needles on your dermaroller," says Friese. "The shorter the needles, like 0.25 millimeters, the more often you can use it." She recommends every two to three days. For longer needles, like 1.5 millimeters, she recommends every couple of weeks since it punctures more deeply.
Regardless of your hair type or particular scalp condition, be careful not to overdo it because it can cause more harm than good. "Dermarolling more often doesn't mean improved or quicker results," says Atoyebi. "If one isn't careful, doing so too frequently can cause short-term shedding as part of the inflammatory reaction to excessive trauma and increase the risk of infection as the skin's barrier will be in a constant state of trauma and never get to heal properly."
And finally, once you've finished dermarolling your scalp, always make sure to clean and properly store your tools. "Clean your device with rubbing alcohol after each use and be sure it's dry before you place it back in the case," says Dr. Shirazi. Once back in the case, store it in a cool and dry area.