Clearer, brighter and firmer skin in a matter of minutes—from the comforts of our home? It sounds too good to be true, right? But according to the many proponents of microneedling (and there are indeed many), it’s one of the easiest ways to improve the texture and tone of your skin short of getting a series of pricey in-office procedures like chemical peels or laser treatments.
Before you get started, however, there are some important things you should know. After all, easy or not, microneedling at home still involves rolling needles over your face and should therefore be practiced with care to prevent injury or risk of infection.
What is microneedling?
Let’s start with the basics. Also known as “dermarolling,” microneedling is the process of creating teeny tiny (we’re talking microscopic here) holes in the surface layers of your skin using a device that is aptly named a “microneedler” or “dermaroller.”
The device itself resembles a mini paint roller, which sounds cute until you realize the roller is covered in small needles that puncture your skin—albeit superficially. These microinjuries are supposed to signal your body to go into repair mode, thereby prompting new collagen and elastin growth. (Both are essential to maintaining the firmness and elasticity of your skin and are significantly reduced as we age.) The tiny punctures also create little channels for your skin-care products to absorb more efficiently.
Does microneedling at home really work?
Most dermatologists we’ve spoken to agree that at-home microneedling is akin to getting a light exfoliation. This is not to say there aren’t any benefits to doing it; it’s just to say the results are subtle and much less significant than what you would get from an in-office treatment.
This is because in-office treatments use medical-grade devices with needles that range anywhere between 0.3 mm to 1 mm and longer to reach deeper into your skin. As a point of comparison, most at-home rollers have needles that are much shorter—typically 0.25 mm or less (which is intended to minimize risk of injury).
In short, the needles in most at-home devices aren’t long or sharp enough to actually stimulate new collagen growth. However, they can boost the effectiveness of your skin-care products by opening those aforementioned little channels in your epidermis, which allows for better absorption overall.
OK, now that our expectations are in check, let’s get ready to roll.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to microneedling at home:
- Always start with a clean slate. Make sure that you remove any makeup, dirt and surface oils from your skin before microneedling. You don’t want anything that could potentially clog or infect your pores sitting on top when you create these micro-channels in your skin.
- And keep your device clean, too. Sterilize the needles using isopropyl alcohol (80 percent or higher) and give the tool adequate time to air-dry (usually between ten to fifteen minutes) before every use. Don’t have alcohol (apart from a handle of Titos) on hand? You can also submerge the roller head in boiling water for five minutes. Again, let air-dry before use.
- Apply a thin layer of serum. This is to ensure maximum absorption of your skin-care products, as well as provide a smoother surface for the roller to move across your skin.
- Roll gently. Using a soft, even pressure, roll the device in vertical, horizontal and diagonal strokes across your cheeks and the sides of your face, forehead, chin, upper lip and neck. Repeat rolling over each section no more than two times to three times per session.
- Seal everything in with more serum. We’d recommend pairing microneedling at home with an active ingredient like vitamin C (for brightening) or peptides (for firming).
- Repeat as needed. Depending on how well your skin tolerates the treatment, you can use a microneedling roller every couple of days to every other day. To be extra safe, we’d advise that you consult your tool’s manual for their recommended usage—especially if it’s your first time.
What are the best at-home microneedling tools?
Depending on your budget, there are a few rollers that come highly recommended—sorted from lowest to highest price for your shopping convenience.
- Stacked Skincare Micro-Roller ($28) Consider this your starter tool or introduction to microneedling at home. At a much more palatable price point than most other options, it’s a fan favorite for being gentle yet effective. With 0.2 mm stainless-steel needles that lightly prick the surface of your skin without causing irritation, it’s basically goofproof (making it a solid option for beginners).
- ORA Microneedle Face and Full Body Roller Kit ($85) It comes with multiple heads to target various parts of your face and body. Each one is interchangeable and features titanium needles of different lengths. (1.0 mm for thicker areas of skin like your legs, back and stomach; 0.255 mm for thinner or more sensitive areas like your eyes and around your lips.) Note: You can also purchase a face roller on its own for a fraction of the cost ($26).
- Beauty Biosacience GloPro Microneedling Regeneration Tool ($199) This one’s a longtime editor favorite thanks to its many bells and whistles. In addition to the requisite needles, the GloPro also employs red LED light therapy and VibroTactile stimulation to further encourage skin regeneration. (Hence, the name.) Bonus fun fact: The GloPro was created by the inventor and patent-holder of microneedling technology. How’s that for a vote of confidence?
- Environ Cosmetic Gold Roll-CIT ($298) It’s definitely the fanciest of the bunch and a top pick for many of our go-to dermatologists. As such, it’s distributed exclusively by derms and aestheticians (as opposed to your local beauty store). The roller comes with 14-carat gold-plated needles of the highest-grade surgical 316 stainless steel (whew, what a mouthful) and are naturally resistant to bacteria. What this means for you? A longer shelf-life of up to one year, as opposed to just one or two months (like most other at-home tools).
Are there any precautions we should keep in mind when microneedling at home?
The biggest concern for at-home microneedling is hygiene. That said, you want to make sure that you’re properly disinfecting your tool before and after every use. Again, to do this, simply spray or wipe the needles down with isopropyl alcohol (80 percent or higher) or submerge the roller head in boiling water for five minutes before letting it air-dry sufficiently (usually ten ti fifteen minutes). On that note, it’s equally important that you clean your hands and face before every treatment as well. Not to hit you over the head with it, but hygiene is of utmost importance when using needles of any length on your skin.
You should also replace your roller once a month or every other month (or approximately every ten to fifteen uses). The needles on at-home devices tend to dull quickly, making it far less effective over time.
And finally, never roll over active breakouts or sores. This can spread the bacteria from one area of your face to another and further delay healing. Wait until the spot has cleared completely before rolling again.
Bottom line: With the proper precautions, microneedling at home can be a nice supplement to your skin-care routine.