I had acne for a big part of my life. Along with acne come scars and dark spots. My micro needling experience improved my skin by showing me how to pay attention to my skin and use the right actives while supercharging my products with regular micro needling sessions.

Update April 2017

Since the writing of this article I’ve significantly improved my skin care routine and can’t guarantee the recommendations here are good. For example, I used Vichy Normaderm for years without realizing it was way too drying for my skin. An up to date guide to formulating a good skin care routine is in the works and will be linked to here as soon as it’s ready.

If you want more current information on the right way to do micro needling I’ve written about the benefits of micro needling, how to choose the best micro needling device, and a tutorial on how to start micro needling at home.

A History Of Bad Skin

Some of my clearest (and most uncomfortable) memories from my preteens are of my dear mom dragging me around to different dermatologists and skin care specialists.  Nothing I tried seemed to work and the worst part of it was that my acne always left marks that ended up being way worst than the actual acne because they wouldn’t fade for years.

At 27-28 years old I was still getting the odd pimple but overall my skin was clear except for persistent dark spots. I’ve since learned that this isn’t typical and just an individual genetic quirk I’ve been gifted. Any and all blemishes I get from pimples on my face to small scratches on my legs turn into dark marks that just don’t fade.

There are a ton of products on the market geared towards improving the appearance of dark spots. I had tried a lot of options, from hydroquinone to intense pulse light (IPL) laser therapy.

Now at almost 30 years old my dark spots are pretty much gone and I’m closer to having the skin I’ve always wanted than I’ve ever been before.

My Micro Needling Experience

I did a lot of research before I did my first treatment. You can find it all in this post where I go over literally everything you’ve ever wanted to know about micro needling.

I was hesitant after my first treatment. I used a 0.5mm needle and wasn’t sure it had done much at all. I obviously had no experience and didn’t know what to expect but when I noticed improvement after 3-4 days I committed to a regular routine.

Now, almost two years after my first treatment my dark spots are almost gone. My before and after pictures may not provide the best comparison but it’s all I have. The before picture is a still from a video I was recording. I don’t have any other before pictures because I was always wearing makeup and would never take close ups.

What I’ve Tried In The Past

Personally I’ve tried everything from expensive products like Estee Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Cream to homemade DIY lemon juice and baking soda concoctions (which are pretty bad for your skin for the record). I’ve also tried treatments like professional and DIY microdermabrasion, light therapy, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) laser treatment and DIY micro needling.

I mean it when I say I’ve tried everything.

My experience with professional treatments like IPL is that I didn’t notice a big difference in the days and weeks following treatment, and it was so expensive that I didn’t want to invest more in a treatment that might not be effective.

My Treatment Regimen

Update April 2017

Since the writing of this article I’ve significantly improved my skin care routine and can’t guarantee the recommendations here are good. For example, I used Vichy Normaderm for years without realizing it was way too drying for my skin. An up to date guide to formulating a good skin care routine is in the works and will be linked to here as soon as it’s ready.

If you want more current information on the right way to do micro needling I’ve written about the benefits of micro needlinghow to choose the best micro needling device, and a tutorial on how to start micro needling at home.

Cleanse/Exfoliate

I use an Olay cleansing brush with Vichy Normaderm as a cleanser. It has salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid that prevents acne. I love it and swear by it because it just feels so much better than comparable products. It smells better, feels nicer going on, and really makes my skin feel clean.

One comparable product that’s really popular amongst beauty bloggers and skin care addicts is CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser, which also has salicylic acid. It has a huge cult following online for it’s reasonable price and effective ingredients so of course I had to try it.

It goes on a bit like Spectro Jel – that is to say, like a gloopy gel that doesn’t spread very nicely, doesn’t smell very pleasant, and doesn’t leave my skin feeling particularly clean. Even with the cleansing brush, it just goops up in the brush and flies off in big globs.

Personally, I’m not a fan. I still have my almost full bottle that I tell myself I might use one day if I run out of everything else but I probably won’t. That being said, it might be better for you if you have extra dry skin because the Normaderm can be quite drying.

The Vichy Normaderm has been a long time favourite but I strayed a way because I thought it was too expensive. Honestly, if I think about how long a bottle lasts it really isn’t that expensive. I’m willing to spend a bit more to make my skin care routine something I truly enjoy and want to do every night.

Serum/Treatment

As I mentioned above I used a 0.5mm device. The exact roller I used has been discontinued but the closest one currently available is the Adelie 0.25mm roller, but my recommendation is actually the Healthy Care 0.25mm roller. If you want more info on choosing the right roller for your needs check out my post How to Choose the Best Micro Needling Device for Home Treatment.

After thoroughly cleansing and preparing your micro needling device (safety first, always use sterilized devices) you can either apply the serum and needle over it, or apply it right after treatment. The number one recommended product to improve treatment is a vitamin C serum. I used serumtologie C serum with hyaluronic acid, ferric acid and vitamin e. I’ve recently decided to try Skin Solutions C + E because the serumtologie serum wasn’t available.

I’ve also had really good results with Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair line (a great entry level retinoid for anti-aging and tone repair at the same time.)

Also, I love love love Neostrata Lotion Plus AHA on days I don’t micro needle. I use the 15% glycolic acid version but it also comes in 20%. I think it locks in all the needling benefits and just keeps the very surface of my skin looking amazing. Tone is improved, everything looks smoother and my pores even look smaller. If you’re new to glycolic acid, start with a lower concentration like 8% in Derma e Evenly Radiant Overnight Peel or Nip Fab Glycolic Acid Pads.

Also if you’re not sure how to do the actual micro needling, see my step by step guide on how to use a micro needling device.

After Treatment

Wait about 10-15 minutes to let the serum really sink in and then apply your after treatment. It should be a cream that’s more emollient and more soothing because you’ll feel like you have a sun burn. I really like Estee Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Cream but it’s on the pricey side (I only used it because it was in my Birchbox). A good and inexpensive alternative is pure vitamin E (I use Jason Vitamin E Oil).

Wait another 10 minutes or so and then always apply sunscreen during the day…even if you’re inside.  Nothing is worse for dark spots than the sun. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer is the sunscreen that made me fall in love with sunscreen. I didn’t even know that was possible. I knew it had a huge cult following before I tried it and after trying it I can see why. It makes my skin feel silky, doesn’t leave a white cast (even on darker skin tones I’ve been told) and it’s so reasonably priced that it’s almost a steal.

If you’re embarking on a dark spot/hyper pigmentation crusade and you try any of my suggestions, drop me a line and let me know how its working for you.

Author

Cristina is the founder and editor in chief of bold + blush. She's been covering the beauty beat here for almost three years, applying the research skills she picked up in law school to cut through the beauty industry hype and find the products and practices that actually work. Her other interests include wellness, yoga and cooking. When she isn't writing about beauty on bold + blush you can usually find her freelancing as a writer, blogging at cristinaskitchen.com, or spending time with her husband and dog at home in Amsterdam. Fun fact: She's usually reading half a dozen books at any given time.

4 Comments

  1. Your post had helped me so much!! The photos, the frank discussion, and what you learned have all be so helpful, I can only hope that you have attained what you wanted. You are beautiful. Thank you! Best, Cynthia

    • Cristina Reply

      Thank you so much for the kind words Cynthia. I’m so happy to hear that this helped you. Hope it goes well for you too and if you like please keep me posted!

  2. Hi! I am wondering what micro needling at home device you bought? Help much appreciated thankyou so much x

    • Cristina Reply

      Hi Kendal!

      I’ve used a lot of different devices from different manufacturers over the years. Many devices are manufactured to virtually identical specifications. The exact device I used has been discontinued, but you can get something almost identical to what I used. I updated the post with recommendations under My Treatment Regimen > Serum/Treatment. The most important factor is needle length. I mainly used a 0.5mm needle for my treatment, though I tried a lot of different devices along the way here and there. Although the studies say that 0.5mm isn’t supposed to work on hyper pigmentation and indented acne scars, I had great results. I think part of that was the glycolic acid and vitamin C (which was especially effective in combination with needling.)

      More recently I’ve switched to a 1.0mm needle for my regular treatment to see if I can take my skin to the next level. It’s still early so I’ll probably wait a couple more months before I report on my findings.
      The device you choose should be the right one for your needs. If you’re uncertain you can check out my posts on How to Choose the Best Micro Needling Device for Home Treatment and my rundown on the science of how micro needling works in Does Micro Needling Work? Results, Before and Afters, and Everything Else You Should Know.

      Good luck and please let me know if you have any further questions.

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