Does At-Home Microneedling Work? What To Know About This Beauty Routine

The saying "beauty is pain" might refer to this tale of a thousand tiny needles.

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Roller Microneedling Tool
Photo: Neeila / Getty Images

After testing umpteen beauty products and honing a multi-step skincare routine so rigorous it could make Estée Lauder shake in her boots, a girl gets prone to boredom. Buzzy new launches offer a tingle of excitement that ultimately wears off, and tested favorites keep on delivering, as one would hope. So I thought to myself, how can I level up?

Long intrigued by the at-home microneedling tools, also known as dermarollers, that I'd seen blowing up on Amazon, it seemed like as good of a baby step into the skincare tool game as any. Prick my face hundreds of thousands of times in the name of beauty? As they say, beauty is pain.

Dermaroller Tool

What is Microneedling?

So, what is microneedling? It's a treatment, performed either at home or in the dermatologist's office, that includes using a tool outfitted with hundreds of teeny-tiny needles to penetrate your outermost layer of skin. Performing the treatment is said to boost collagen production, minimize the appearance of pores, fade dark spots, and enhance the effectiveness of the products you apply afterward.

"As we age, the body produces less collagen, and skin begins to lose its youthful firmness and elasticity," says Dr. Corey L. Hartman, Birmingham-based board-certified dermatologist. "Microneedling is designed to kick the body's natural healing process into gear to rejuvenate your skin."

How Does Microneedling Work?

By creating hundreds of micro-injuries, the tool spurs your skin to immediately start "repairing" itself, which is what improves your overall complexion over time.

Unsurprisingly, microneedling with a lesser-grade device at home will not be as effective as an in-office treatment. A dermatologist-provided treatment uses a numbing cream and more penetrative needles to garner noticeable long-term results like scar reduction and wrinkle smoothing, especially after three to five sessions.

"If you do try it at home, choose a pen with short needles, do not apply enough pressure to break the skin and cause bleeding, and be sure to sanitize the instrument properly between uses," Dr. Hartman recommends.

What Results Can You Expect From Microneedling?

At home, you can expect encouraging but more minimal results. After a month of testing, my skin looks decidedly smoother and more even-toned, and there's always an instant glow behind the temporary flush. But my favorite thing about at-home microneedling, or dermarolling, is how it makes my skin feel the following day—it's baby soft.

I also like to think I'm preventatively staving off wrinkles and fine lines, but the perfectly exfoliated softness has me going back for more. (Spoiler alert: It doesn't hurt that bad—just tiny pinches.) My ultimate goal is to make those pores disappear into thin air, but that might take a miracle and a trip to the doctor's office.

How to Try At-Home Dermarolling

  1. Cleanse and prep your face with a serum. (Try a hyaluronic acid serum for slightly dry skin due to regular use of retinol.)
  2. Roll the microneedling tool on your cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin in cross-sections, about four times in each direction. Do not ever, ever, ever roll over an active blemish.
  3. After rolling your entire face, apply an antioxidant-packed, vitamin C-focused, or firming serum to promote healing and brightening. I used Glow Recipe's Pineapple-C Brightening Serum, but Amazon shoppers' favorite TruSkin Vitamin C Serum would also be a great pick.
  4. Apply moisturizer and eye cream.

A Warming About Dermarolling

Don't be alarmed when your face is super flushed afterward.—that's normal. Most recommend starting only once a week and building up from there—and avoid applying retinol on the same night, as using both could be too much for your skin to handle.

Most importantly, you must take your tool's disinfecting and cleaning very seriously. Spray isopropyl alcohol on it before and after each use, and rinse with warm water. If not, you risk infecting your whole face with whatever gunk is growing on there. Remember, you're poking holes in your face. Open wounds!

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  1. Yale Medicine. Microneedling.

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