Dermarollers 101 - Everything You Need to Know

Microneedling, AKA dermarolling. What is it? Why is it a powerhouse for skin? Can it really reverse aging? What are the different sizes of needles? Does it hurt? What is the best dermaroller on the market?

I always get an influx of questions about dermarollers from customers and it sparked an idea for having a blog that covered just about everything you need to know about dermarollers. While some people are a little hesitant to take the leap, others have been using dermarollers long enough and with beautiful results.

This article is designed to put your worries at ease, get you informed and get you comfortable with adding a dermaroller to your skincare collection. So, first things first.

What is Microneedling?

Microneedling and dermarolling are used interchangeably. They refer to the same action: using a microneedler (AKA dermaroller) to create clean, microscopic punctures in the skin. There are a variety of tools that perform essentially the same thing:

  • Dermaroller
  • Aqua Pens
  • Dermapens
  • Aqua Stamps
  • Microneedle Masks

We're going to be focusing solely on dermarollers here, because dermarollers are a tried and true microneedling tool that has a variety of uses.

Real dermarollers (should) contain real, individual needles. With so much competition flooding the market, it's easy to come across cheap, fake knock-offs that have some pretty bad side effects. Compared to real, individual needles, these dermarollers contain metal wheels with spokes; a surefire way to damage the skin and potentially induce scarring.

So What Does a Dermaroller Do, Exactly?

Dermarollers, when rolled along the skin, create micro-punctures. These are essentially microscopic wounds in the skin which serve one purpose and one purpose only: to trigger the body's healing response. This translates to boosted collagen, elastin, and circulation. Key factors in anti-aging.

Collagen: the building blocks of skin, collagen is a protein that keeps skin plump and youthful looking. After the age of 25, we begin to see a decrease in collagen production of around 1% per year.

Elastin: similar to collagen, elastin is another protein essential to youthful skin. While collagen keeps skin plump and full, elastin contributes to the elasticity and resilience of skin. It is about one thousand times more flexible than collagen.

Circulation: increased circulation means increased bloodflow. As many of you might know, blood is oxygen and nutrient rich, and so providing increased circulation to an area of skin can provide fast-acting healing benefits and anti-aging processes. It also helps transport carbon dioxide and toxins away from the area, a cleansing effect that can't really be achieved with any other method.

How Many Sizes of Dermaroller Needles Are There?

When it comes to needle sizes, there are six that I currently offer in my own store:

  • 0.20: best for sensitive skin
  • 0.25: best for beginners
  • 0.50: best for wrinkles
  • 0.75: best for acne scars or small scars
  • 1.00: best for deep acne scars
  • 1.50: a body dermaroller only

While some sites like Amazon sell 2.00mm or even 2.50mm, I don't see any additional benefit from such a long needle. As you increase the needle size, you are penetrating deeper in to the skin and there are certain depths you just don't need to touch. Every anti-aging or collagen boosting activity you need to do can be achieved just fine by the sizes listed above.

The following table is an overview of which needle sizes are best for which pain point, as well as a frequency of use in the far most right column. Consult this if you have any doubts about which needle length to use.

How Do You Prepare Skin Before Dermarolling?

  • Roll your dermaroller along an alcohol wipe to disinfect
  • Place in case to allow to dry
  • Gently cleanse and exfoliate your skin

And this is pretty much it. I don't like to get too crazy with apply products before you dermaroll, as I much rather prefer apply serums post-rolling.

How Long Does It Take to See Results?

I get asked this question a lot and there really is no straightforward answer. Everyone's skin is unique. That being said, results are going to be relative. For some people, they see results in as little as a day. For others, it may take months to achieve the same results. The key here is consistency as well as a little bit of patience. 

Also, it's important to remember that results depend on what it is you're trying to achieve. Do you want brighter skin? Less wrinkles? The time it takes for wrinkles to disappear is going to be much different than the time it might take to notice more subtle differences like brighter skin. Things like erasing acne scars, however, can take as long as 6 - 12 months.

What's the Best Technique for Dermarolling?

I normally start at the forehead and work my way down. It's important to remember to never roll back and forth, but to slide and lift in a single direction. This means you slide, lift, and start from the beginning point and slide again. For the forehead, I recommend 6 - 10 slides maximum in one direction. Now repeat this for each direction: up, down, vertically, horizontally, and diagonally.

Tip: If the pain feels too intense, consider numbing cream for the areas you're applying with a dermaroller.

Next, I start at the cheeks, starting at the jawline and rolling up towards the cheekbone. Do this for both sides of the face, making sure to lift off the cheekbone once you reach the end of your roll. Next, roll in vertical and diagonal directions before continuing to the chin.

Can I Dermaroll If I Have Acne?

This is a large, bright, resounding no. Dermarolling while you have acne is not a good idea because you can puncture already irritated pimples that may pop or bleed. In addition, rolling over inflamed skin can cause scarring and further damage. 

Can I Dermaroll My Lips?

Yes! Dermarolling the lips, AKA, the cheap alternative to lip fillers, is a unique dermarolling technique that makes lips plumper and have more volume from the influx of collagen and increased circulation.

Keep in mind that dermarolling the lips may hurt and so for those more sensitive to pain, I wouldn't recommend doing this. Also be sure to not press too hard; being gentle is key when dermarolling sensitive skin like the lips or around the mouth.

What Products Should You Apply After?

After dermarolling, the skin has a tendency to dry out and especially during cold, winter months (and even summer months with dry heat), it's important to make sure your skin is moisturized after you've finished rolling.

I personally like to use two products, post-dermaroller:

While hyaluronic acid provides moisture and hydrates the skin, Vitamin C Serum brightens and provides further anti-aging benefits, while Vitamin C Cream repairs the skin and provides further benefits.

Are There Side Effects to Dermarolling?

One of the major side effects of dermarolling may be excessively dry skin. While this may occur for the next couple of days, it's important to battle this with plenty of moisturizers and oils.

Lastly, dermarolling does cause redness, but it shouldn't cause excessive redness, bleeding, or swelling. If this occurs, you may be rolling with too much pressure, rolling for too long, or using too long of a needle size on your face. Rule of thumb? If you're using a 0.5mm on your face, do not use more than once per week.

What is the 72 Hour Rule?

After dermarolling, your skin is going to be sensitive and it's important to not expose it to certain elements and situations. For 72 hours post dermarolling, you should refrain from:

  • Gym/Sweating
  • Sun Exposure
  • Hot Water/Hot Showers

Always be sure to use SPF sunscreen if you happen to be going out into the sun and try to don large hats, sunglasses, or any protective wear that you can think of to protect your skin from the sun's rays. This is a very important element of aftercare and is the most important to remember.

Should you need a visual tutorial on the information provided above, check out this video on my YouTube!

Thank you Amber Babies for tuning into this blog and I hope all the information here was helpful! Check out my YouTube Channel for more informative videos and I'll see you next time!

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