Does poking tiny little holes into your face with needles sound insane? Is this another 'beauty fad' or are there real benefits to be had for your skin...
For this article I am focusing on the 'Home-Care' derma roller (also known as a Micro-needle Roller, Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT), Micro-needler, or a Skin Roller) This is a revolutionary hand-held device for use on your face, neck, and hands. Body Rollers are also available and have a larger needle size.
Micro-Needling - Lowdown
Micro-needling naturally increases blood flow and activates the growth of new cells, your skin's absorption of topically applied vitamins, enzymes, lipids, and other nourishing ingredients is greatly enhanced. They can be used twice a week for up to one hundred times (then heads should be replaced). After use, the rollers have to be cleaned in hot tap water and shaken dry, personally I also soak my roller in a mix of water with Tea Tree essential oil for a while then let it air dry and place it back into the container. This helps keep the roller clean and protects the needles. Roller cleansers are also available.
TIMELINE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF MICRO-NEEDLING
1995 - Orentreich and Orentreich described subcision or dermal needling for scars
1997 - Camirand and Doucet described needle dermabrasion using a "tattoo pistol" to treat scars
2006 - Fernandes developed percutaneous Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT) with the Derma-Roller.
HOW THEY WORK
Firstly we need to understand a little about the skin...
Epidermis - The outer layer of the two main layers of the skin.
Papillary Dermis - The thin top layer of the dermis (the inner layer of the skin). The papillary dermis has connective tissue and blood vessels that give nutrients to the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) and that helps control the temperature of the skin.
Dermis - The inner layer of the two main layers of the skin. The dermis has connective tissue, blood vessels, oil and sweat glands, nerves, hair follicles, and other structures. It is made up of a thin upper layer called the papillary dermis, and a thick lower layer called the reticular dermis.
THE SCIENCY BIT
The tiny needles on the Micro-needler pierce the stratum corneum (outer layer of skin) and create micro-channels (holes) without damaging the epidermis. It has been shown that rolling with a standard derma-roller containing 192 needles of 0.2 mm length and 0.07 mm diameter over an area of skin for 15 times results in approximately 250 holes per square cm.
Micro-needling leads to the release of growth factors that stimulate the formation of new collagen (natural collagen) and elastin in the papillary dermis (uppermost layer of the dermis). In addition, new capillaries are formed-this neovascularisation (the natural formation of new blood vessels) and neocollagenesis (the process of making more collagen) leads to the reduction of scars. Micro-needling is also beneficial for the treatment of skin photoageing. In approximately one to two hours after the application of the roller, these micro-channels fully close through the body's natural healing process.
One to three times per week - depending on your skin tolerance.
WHERE DO I USE THE MICO-NEEDLER
Face, neck, hands (for a face roller)
Body with a body-specific roller, this has longer needles to tackle thicker skin.
WHEN SHOULD I USE?
Evening time is recommended.
0.2 mm to 0.5 mm on the face. If you want to do a deeper (0.5 - 2 mm) micro-needling treatment with larger needle size, find a professional with an excellent reputation. Deeper penetration i.e. larger needles cause pain a professional will apply a topical anesthetic prior to the procedure.
0.04 mm - Is the thickness of the top layer of skin the Stratum Corneum
0.1 mm - Is the thickness of the Epidermis
A 0.2 mm - Will get through both these layers and into the top layer of the Dermis known as the Dermal-Epidermal Junction. This is the region that actives such as peptides work their magic.
Below 0.2 mm is into the Dermis which we know is where our blood vessels, oil, and sweat glands and nerves, etc are located. Only a professional should go 'here'.
WHEN DO I NEED TO REPLACE MY ROLLER?
Depending on usage between 3-12 months
DO NOT USE OVER:
- The delicate area around your eyes*
Moderate to severe chronic skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis
- Local infection such as warts
- Experiencing a cold sore outbreak
- Active Acne
- Broken Skin
- Avoid using very active ingredients like retinol and vitamin C, they can cause sensitivity, to begin with, therefore using them in tandem with micro-needling can cause strong skin irritation.
- Avoid using with 'Acids' these are intended for the outer layer of skin
- Pregnant? Some brands state they are safe to use while pregnant and breastfeeding - to be safe check with your physician / GP prior to using.
Always use your own personal Micro-needler and avoid sharing.
*Some Brands offer specific Micro-needlers for these areas with detachable interchangeable heads.
WHAT ARE THE SKINCARE BENEFITS?
- Helps to stimulate the skin to produce collagen and elastin making the skin firmer and more youthful in appearance
- Enhance skincare products penetration through the outer dermal layer of skin allowing active ingredients to reach their targeted areas
- Hyper Pigmentation
- Skin Smoothing
- Fine lines
- Sun Damaged skin
- Enlarged pore size
- Acne Scars
HOW DO I CARE FOR MY MICRO-NEEDLER
Cleanse your new Micro-needle prior to initial use. Each time you use your Micro-needle cleanse it to ensure it is sterilized to prevent the spread or introduction of bacteria to your skin.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING A ROLLER
The main decisions to make is whether to choose Stainless Steel or Titanium needles, and the number of needles. Here are the pros and cons of each:
Stainless Steel Pros
- Extremely hygienic
- Extremely sharp
- Moderately strong
- Very easy to clean and sterilize
Stainless Steel Cons
- Not as durable - compared to titanium
- Strong and robust
- Resistant to wear and tear - needles don’t become blunt with use
- Resistant to falls - needles don’t bend
- Less hygienic - compared to stainless steel
- Harder to clean and sterilize
NUMBER OF NEEDLES
Rollers are commonly available with needles ranging from 192 to 540. The first derma roller was built using 192 needles. I have been using a roller with 0.25mm and 540 needles, I have rather reactive skin and have found that once per week is what my skin can tolerate. I will next be trying a roller with 0.25mm and 192 needles to assess what the skin difference is.
Other Features to consider:
- Red LED light function (enhance regenerative skin benefits) Skin Tip: Click here to read my article about LED Therapy to understand how Micro-Needling and LED Therapy work better together.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER USE?
Skin redness, skin-plumping, and tingling. You should not experience bleeding using the correct size needle on your face i.e. 0.1mm - 0.5mm. The next day the redness should have dissipated, a good rule of practice to apply a mineral-based sunscreen next time you venture outside.
Personally I think this is a great at home treatment which has flown under the radar, the skin care benefits it offers are worth the investment and your time. I have been using a Micro-needler for about six months once per week and it has gradually over that time made noticeable difference to the appearance of my skin. It is a painless five minute act of self care, it can be a little more sensitive on the neck area - yes people include your neck and hands! your worth it. I like to think of it as a delivery system for my active ingredients, a skin boost of all the goodness in Tanu - Cell Affinity Coactive Serum.
I believe you get what you pay for and must do your own research! Only buy and use good quality Micro-needler — there are many on the market from different companies; using poor quality rollers may lead to breakage of needles in the skin. My personal choice is Stainless steel and to replace the roller every 6 months due to my usage rate. As stated I have tried only 540 needles with 0.25mm depth and cannot comment of the difference in 'skin feel' nor results between this and the 192 roller model .
Use only as directed and clean, clean, clean! Absolutely make sure you serialise prior to initial use and after each time you use your roller. During use, Micro-needles tend to pick up bacteria and other micro-organisms from the skin surface. To avoid introducing these microorganisms into the skin, the Micro-needler requires thorough cleaning.
Do you use a Micro-needler? I hope this article has shed some light on the subject and would love to hear any of your experiences and comments.
Until next time...
be human | be kind | be you
- Doddaballapur, Satish. “Microneedling with Dermaroller.” Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery 2.2 (2009): 110–111. PMC. Web. Feb. 2018.
- Aust MC, Fernandes D, Kolokythas P, Kaplan HM, Vogt PM. Percutaneous collagen induction therapy: An alternative treatment for scars, wrinkles and skin laxity. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2008;21:1421–9.
- Fernandes D, Signorini M. Combating photoaging with percutaneous collagen induction. Clin Dermatol. 2008;26:192–9.
- Aust MC, Reimers K, Repenning C, Stahl F, Jahn S, Guggenheim M, et al. Percutaneous collagen induction: Minimally invasive skin rejuvenation without risk of hyperpigmentation-fact or fiction. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2008;122:1553–63.
- Orentreich DS, Orentreich N. Subcutaneous incisionless (subcision) surgery for the correction of depressed scars and wrinkles. Dermatol Surg. 1995;21:6543–9. Camirand A, Doucet J.
- Needle dermabrasion. Aesthet Plast Surg. 1997;21:48–51.Fernandes D. Minimally invasive percutaneous collagen induction. Oral Maxillofac Surg Clin North Am. 2006;17:51–63.
- Pub Med Health: Dermis / Epidermis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0022670/