At home micro needling or collagen induction therapy can be an effective complement to an existing skin care routine. Micro needling with a 0.25mm derma roller or similar has been clinically proven to increase product absorption by 1000x, giving you better results and making your skin care budget go that much further.
It may seem like an intense process, but it really isn’t. All you need to get starter is a micro needling roller, a good vitamin C serum, and a disinfectant to sterilize the device. If you want the long version keep reading below.
- Sterilize device using a bleach and water solution or alcohol.
- Cleanse face. You can also exfoliate with an AHA or BHA.
- Apply serum like vitamin C, which is most often indicated in the clinical studies.
- Work in sections by separating the face into four quadrants; forehead, right cheek, left cheek, chin and jaw area. Glide the roller across skin 10-15 times in each direction (up and down, side to side, and diagonally.)
- Apply actives, either Vitamin C or others like Retinol or Niacinamide.
- Apply moisturizer or hydrating mask.
Micro Needling Benefits
Micro needling is clinically “proven to increase chemical absorption up to 1000 times.“
Micro needling has been shown to increase new collagen fibers by 206% 6 weeks after treatment.
Unlike more invasive treatments like laser therapy, with micro needling “the epidermis remains intact and is not damaged.”
Micro needling is “…proven to be very effective in minimizing acne scars and burn scars…“
The collagen produced by micro needling is in the form of “collagen fibre bundles [that] appear to have a normal lattice pattern rather than parallel bundles as in scar tissue.“
What Micro Needling Can’t Do
Just like you can’t outrun a bad diet, you also can’t out outperform a bad skin care routine. Micro needling is a great complement to a good routine but it probably won’t give you results if it’s all you’re doing.
Micro Needling Pre-Treatment
Step 1: Clean Micro Needling Roller
Although at home micro needling is minimally invasive, you should still exercise a good degree of care and caution especially when it comes to sterilizing your device.
A device should be sterilized every single time it’s used using either a 1:1 bleach and water solution or isopropyl alcohol (aka regular rubbing alcohol). Even if new devices come in sealed packaging, it’s still a good idea to sterilize just in case.
Step 2: Cleanse Treatment Area & Remove Make Up
A clean face is just as important as a clean device. It goes without saying that you should remove your makeup. Micro needling increases product penetration by 1000 times. Makeup formulations are usually not formulated to penetrate skin.
Your regular cleanser is fine provided is isn’t too drying. If your skin feels tight after washing your cleanser may be too stripping. When your skin is tight and you roll over it with the needles it can pull and create unwanted damage.
Pain Management (optional)
If it’s your first time rolling you should skip this step. Your pain response is an important metric to understand. A little bit of discomfort is obviously normal but if you’re rolling so hard that you’re causing enough pain to warrant a numbing cream, then maybe you’re rolling too hard.
That being said, some people have lower pain thresholds and are much more sensitive. If you’ve tried rolling and it hurts too much right off the bat, then you could try a numbing cream.
By the end of treatment it’s likely that you will feel like you have a mild to moderate sunburn. If you find this too uncomfortable an anti-inflammatory could help with the pain and also reduce inflammation.
Topical Numbing Cream: If you are very sensitive to pain then you might want to apply a lidocaine based cream like Numb Master to treatment area about 15 minutes before treatment. After 15 minutes have passed, use a fresh towel to gently wipe away excess.
NSAIDs: If you have a lot of pain or inflammation near the end of treatment then an NSAID like Advil or generic Ibuprofen may help when taken before treatment.
Micro Needling Treatment
Step 3: Serum
Apply serum to the entire treatment area. If you’re rolling large area divide it into sections or quadrants. Reapply serum to each section as needed (if skin starts to dry), then roll across or stamp that section before moving on to the next one.
Vitamin C serum is most often indicated in the clinical studies on micro needling because it does everything from fading acne related hyper pigmentation to improving photo damage and fine lines. Vitamin C is a building block of collagen but Vitamin C in the diet doesn’t reach the skin so topical application is the only way to reap the benefits.
The bioavailability of Vit. C in the skin is inadequate when it is administered orally. The use of topical ascorbic acid is therefore favored in the practice of dermatology. Vitamin C in Dermatology
Step 4: Micro Needling Treatment
Roll your micro needling device across skin in all directions five times each (up and down, left to right, and diagonally) applying enough consistent and even pressure that you can feel the needles but not so much that you feel they may bend or break. You may not notice a perceptible change right away, but within minutes you may feel like you have a moderate to intense sun burn feeling (redness, tightness, heat and stinging) which is normal.
Micro Needling Pen or Stamp
Gently but firmly press derma pen into treatment area again moving in all directions (up and down, left to right, and diagonally). In order of ease, it’s probably the trickiest to use manual stamp because it’s difficult to get a sense of the appropriate pressure. You may have to experiment the first few times. If you are uncertain, consider a roller or electric stamp.
Electric Derma Pen
Adjust electric derma pen to the appropriate needle length for the treatment being done and gently move along skin slowly enough that you aren’t dragging the moving needles across your skin. The movement of the device needles should go cleanly up and down without being dragged across the skin.
Micro Needling After Care
By far the most important part of treatment is after care. Most of the significant benefits from micro needling come in the days and weeks following treatment when the collagen in your skin is reforming. Don’t short change your progress by skipping after care or needling again too soon following a treatment.
Step 5: Post-Treatment Actives
Following treatment you should either reapply the vitamin C serum or use another serum suited to your needs.
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)
Refines tone and texture of skin to improve hyper pigmentation, dark spots, enlarged pores and fine lines.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Specially formulated to work on blemishes and congested skin.
“Contraindications: If topical Vitamin C is used as part of skincare, it should be applied at alternate times with this formula (ideally Vitamin C in the PM and this formula in the AM). Otherwise, Niacinamide can affect integrity of pure-form Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid).” – The Ordinary
The current gold standard in anti-aging and skin rejuvenation. If you’ve never used retinol before start very slowly with a low concentration product like the Neutrogena serum below. Always patch test and use it for at least a week before introducing it to your micro needling treatment.
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum or Rapid Tone Repair Serum
Hyaluronic acid is a compound found natural occurring in the body and implicated in skin healing and wound repair. Unlike a lot of other actives hyaluronic acid benefits all skin types as it significantly increases skin hydration.
Step 6: Moisturizer
Your regular moisturizer is fine. Don’t introduce a new product following your micro needling treatment. If you’re introducing a new moisturizer patch test and use it for at least a week before introducing it to your micro needling treatment.
A hydrating mask is a really good way to end a micro needling treatment because it keeps actives on the skin for a longer time while also increasing much needed hydration.
There are a lot of good masks on the market. Avoid alcohol in the ingredients list as it can be irritating.
Next Day & Beyond
Although micro needling hasn’t been shown to cause hyper pigmentation, needle lengths over 1.0mm may make skin particularly photosensitive and cause Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (aka more prone to developing dark spots) in the weeks following treatment so you should be particularly careful about applying sunscreen, even if you don’t normally wear any. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer or Biore Watery Essence are good for all skin types and tones, including darker skin tones as they don’t leave a white cast.
Water, Diet, & Collagen Supplementation
The skin rejuvenation you experience from micro needling is a result of collagen production in your skin. Be sure to drink lots of extra water in the weeks following treatment and eat a diet high in collagen containing foods or alternatively take a collagen supplement like Neocell Super Collagen.
If you want to know about my experience see this post.