What Is Microneedling — and Is It Safe
Would you roll needles all over your face for smoother skin? That’s the promise of the trendy treatment microneedling, with compelling before-and-after photos (and some horror stories) flooding the internet.
In the microneedling procedure, a dermaroller wand studded with tiny needles is run over skin to even out its texture, including wrinkles and scarring, says Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. There are even claims that it can help reduce stubborn stretch marks.
But is microneedling safe and does it work? Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab skin scientists and dermatologist experts weigh in on everything you need to know about microneedling, and if you should ever do it at home.
What does microneedling do for your skin?
The treatment (which can be performed by a dermatologist or aesthetician in-office or done at home) involves rolling a roller with tiny needles along the skin. The microneedling pen’s needles produce micropunctures in skin that can enhance the absorption of skincare products and cause an increase in collagen production, which can minimize fine lines and scarring from causes like acne over time, among other benefits, Dr. Gohara explains.
Is microneedling effective?
Yes: When done by a professional dermatologist, “microneedling can be effective at boosting the penetration of topical skincare and plumping skin, and there is data to show its efficacy in reducing fine lines and wrinkles,” Dr. Gohara says. “And a study found microneedling may be as helpful lasers and other resurfacing devices for reducing acne scars.”
It’s also a great option for minimizing stretch marks, experts say: “In my opinion, microneedling is the single best treatment for stretch mark reduction,” says Manish Shah, M.D., a plastic surgeon based in Colorado. “Microneedling improves the color and appearance of stretch marks by creating tiny pinhole injuries in the stretch mark itself. The skin responds by making new collagen, filling in the broken dermal layer. As the dermal layer expands, the color fades because the skin thickens and the tiny blood vessels that give early stretch marks their pink/purple color retreat.”
And when you’re at home, what’s the best way to actually dermaroll (slash microneedle) your face?
I tried a few different at-home rollers, but found some to be pretty spiky on my sensitive skin, especially the ones with longer needles. (FYI: Both at-home and in-office dermarollers are made with needles that measure between 0.2 and 1 mm.) I thought the process would be more laborious than my current 10-step routine, but it was actually quick and easy. Apply serum, roll, and apply more serum.
There is a technique to microneedling. Benjamin explains that I should roll vertically, horizontally, and diagonally over my whole face for no more than two minutes. And I should add this to my routine three to five times a week. (And because I’m a scaredy cat, I also watched this video on technique first.)
You can use any serum or oil with your dermaroller—and therefore specifically tailor the treatment to your own skin type. “With the right corrective serums, microneedling is an effective, powerful way to prevent the aging process and create a youthful glow,” says Benjamin.
My at-home results were incredible.
OK, listen, I know there’s no legit science behind it. And as a health nerd, I’m a snob when it comes to seeing the science, so I was dubious at best. But I followed the regimen Benjamin and I put together for my skin type for a week and hoped for the best. It consisted of a couple of different serums to treat my few wrinkles, really dry skin, and a bit of hyperpigmentation from too many summers in the sun.
Not only did this roller not hurt (whereas, if I’m real-talking, the other ones I tried actually did), but after a few uses, I legitimately had glowing skin. Think: baby’s butt on steroids. I’m lucky that my skin’s pretty good to start with, but this was next level. Curious why at-home microneedling gets a bad rep, I asked Sadick what he thought of at-home dermarolling’s efficacy after I had microneedled.
“When someone does at-home needling, the superficial, small holes created can refresh the skin. Over time and with continued use, microneedling can show very nice results,” Sadick tells SELF. So while there are no official stats, there is the added element of self-confidence that comes with glowing skin. That, and I didn’t need any makeup. Which is kinda the biggest victory of them all, right?