Dermarolling, microneedling, collagen-induced therapy, or vampire facials, are all fancy and cool names for saying: let us injure the skin, so we can force it to produce all that beautiful collagen we all desperately crave and heal away our problems.
Dermarolling is a form of microneedling and if you’re googling what to use before and after dermaroller, I’m guessing you’re planning on doing it at the comfort of your own home.
Hey, I understand, it’s way cheaper, more practical, and wildly popular - so why not? Of course, there’s no reason why not do it yourself - if you know everything there is to know about dermarolling. How to use it and more importantly, what to use before and after dermaroller?
This is why we’re here. Let’s try to unwrap and explore the seemingly complicated procedure of dermarolling. So, by the time you’re done with this article, you’ll be all set to begin your dermarolling adventure.
Dermarolling is a type of microneedling procedure that can be done at home with a device called “derma-roller”. Microneedling is a slightly invasive, revolutionary approach in treating scar tissues, age spots, wrinkles, discoloration, and other imperfections. It has an advantage over the other treatments against scarring because it can handle deeper issues. What actually happens during the procedure is that you have hundreds of small needling puncturing and making micro channels in the top layers of the skin to stimulate the production of collagen, elastin, and growth factors because the skin needs healing.
Dermarolling it’s also called cosmetic microneedling and it differs from medical microneedling in three things: the length of the needles, the conditions in which the procedure is done, and the device that it’s used. Typically, during a cosmetic microneedling procedure you’ll be using smaller needles, with non-motorized devices - especially if you’re a beginner. This gives you the advantage to use a derma-roller at home.
Microneedling with motorized, automated pens that use longer needles should be only done in a medical institution under the supervision of a trained professional. This also applies for derma-rollers with needles longer than 1-1.5mm.
If you’ve heard of the term “vampire facials” than you should know that’s a form of medical microneedling where blood is taken from the patient, filtered and the plasma is used on the face, while microneedling, to deliver more growth factors for more effective results.
If you have severe acne scars, wrinkles, or other more severe imperfections, then you should check out our article on microneedling, to see whether you might benefit more from that procedure.
Now that we know the differences between the types of microneedling procedures, we can focus on dermarolling at home and the essentials you should know before you start.
The type of dermaroller you’re using controls which products you should or you shouldn’t use before and after dermarolling.
One of the crucial foundations of a successful and effective dermarolling treatment is knowing the needle size and the shape of your dermaroller. Using the right dermaroller size at the right time leads to effectiveness.
Here’s a quick guide:
0.2 – 0.3mm size derma roller needles - This is what you should start with, no matter the problem. You’ll familiarize yourself with the procedure, get used to the sensations and learn how your skin reacts and how much time you need to heal. These needles are great for enhanced absorption of skincare products. This means that with needles that are 0.3mm in size, you should use specific skincare products that target the issues you’re facing after doing the treatment.
0.5mm size derma roller needles - This is the ideal needle size for treating shallow wrinkles, UV damage, light scarring, and hyperpigmentation. Of course, you also have the benefit of enhanced absorption of skincare products, but you should use more gentle products that don’t irritate the skin.
1.0mm size derma roller needles - These needles are a lot more effective in inducing collagen production which means more effective results for wrinkles, severe acne scars, and sunspots. Beginners are not advised to use this length, and a numbing cream before the procedure should be used.
1.5 – 3.0mm size derma roller needles - Needles with 1.5mm size or longer should not be used for microneedling at home, but if you’re interested, you can check out more about medical microneedling.
Before you begin your journey with dermarolling, it good to know what you should use to enhance the results, but it’s even more important to know what you shouldn’t use, to avoid irritation, inflammation, or infections.
Don’t take any chances. Before using a dermaroller on your face, you should find out whether your skin can take it.
The first thing to consider is your condition. You should use a dermaroller if you have active acne, blood clotting disease, bruises, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, herpes, cold sores, inflammation, melanoma, open wounds, sunburns, etc. It’s best to consult with a dermatologist if you have any concerns about the condition of your skin and dermarolling.
The second thing to consider is medication. If you’re taking any drugs, whether they’re contraceptive pills or anti-inflammation and anti-acne pills, you should call your doctor and check whether the medication can make complications after the treatment. The same thing applies for any topical creams or treatments you’re using.
For example, isotretinoin (brand name accutane) should not be used six months before microneedling. And, you’ll probably need to stop using any anti-acne remedies while the skin is healing.
It’s important to consult with a dermatologist and ask about each specific product you’re using.
The third thing to consider is your skin type. If your hypersensitive dermarollers might be too harsh for your skin and cause irritation, you can still try with 0.2mm needles and see how you’ll feel.
After the dermaroller, your skin will be sensitive, vulnerable, and unprotected from environmental damage. The micro-channels are actually micro-wounds which are open and shouldn’t be exposed to sunlight, abrasive exfoliating skincare products, mechanical damage like picking or touching your skin.
The best way to ensure that you’re skin is going to get the rest it deserves and not interrupt the healing process is if you do the procedure before going to bed. Eight hours is the perfect rest time.
Don’t use the dermaroller in the morning and then go out. Make a plan that will benefit your skin before you start dermarolling.
A gentle cleanser will be your best friend in this journey. Your skin needs to be clean and your pores clear before you dermaroll. This is really important since makeup and skincare products residue, impurities, dead skin cells can cause irritation or even infection if they get inside when the needles are penetrating the skin.
Double cleansing is okay, even recommended, but don’t use an alcohol-based, thick cleanser. Stick with a light one with a mild formula. You can cleanse three times if you want to make sure your skin is clean, but if you irritate it, or make it really dry before dermarolling, you are setting yourself for irritation and discomfort.
You can use a toner to balance the pH levels on the skin, but also make sure it’s one with a gentle formula. This also depends on whether you’re using a toner in your daily skincare routine. If you are and your skin is used to it, there’s no reason to skip it. But, don’t go buying toners just to prepare the skin for dermaroller. Cleansing the skin is all you need.
Exfoliators get a big no here. I mean it’s totally okay to exfoliate the skin a few days before your dermarolling treatment, but don’t exfoliate right before using the dermaroller.
Your skin is about to go through more aggressive and slightly invasive treatment. That’s more than enough. Forcing things won’t lead to faster and more effective results, but rather might tamper the healing process.
Sunscreen and suntanning creams are both not recommended right before and after dermarolling. You should stay away from a suntanning cream, for a longer period. Sunscreen, on the other hand, is really beneficial when used every day for a week or two before dermarolling. What does this mean?
Well, we mentioned that microneedling is only recommended for healthy skin. People with acute symptoms, like bruises, burns, or wounds shouldn’t do it. To make sure your skin is healthy and not affected by sun damage, especially in summer, you should load up with sunscreen before the treatment. The sunscreen will protect the skin, make it soft, and more resilient to environmental pollutants.
Just be careful, don’t use sunscreen the day you’re planning to dermaroll. Your skin should be clean from any skincare product residue to prevent irritation and infection.
When the needles exceed 0.5mm in length or you have a low tolerance of pain, a numbing cream should be applied before the procedure. A popular choice for a numbing cream before microneedling is a combination of benzocaine, lidocaine, tetracaine (BLT). Applying a numbing cream can make the procedure painless and cut the downtime for healing.
While some experts warn that the numbing cream should be completely cleaned from the face before starting the dermarolling procedure, others say that it can be left off.
I guess this varies from the needle size and the product formulation, but it’s best to consult with a dermatologist and/or the pharmacist when buying.
With these tips, you’re ready to start dermarolling. If you’re a beginner and this is your first time, just remember: Double cleanse your skin and apply the only product you might really need to prepare the skin - the numbing cream.
We mentioned that planning your dermarolling sessions accordingly so that your skin has time to close up before being exposed to the outside environment is highly advisable. Best time to do your dermarolling session is at night before you go to bed.
The micro-channels the needles make stay open for around an hour with the shortest needles, while up to four/five hours with longer needles. This is the most vulnerable time for your skin, but also the window for better absorption of skincare products. In this first hour, you can apply anti-aging products, moisturizers, serums, and other skincare products that target specific issues. But don’t apply more than one product - you can overwhelm the skin. Choose what you want to target.
Just be extremely careful. The channels absorb toxic ingredients as well, so you need to stay away from products that irritate the skin, or contain harmful ingredients. In the paragraph below you have a list of the ingredients you should avoid.
Alongside with hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C is the most commonly used ingredient after a microneedling procedure. If you google it, there’ll be tons of anecdotal stories, experiences, and even experts and cosmetic studios that are supporting it. This is because Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants, the skin’s building block, and collagen stimulator. You can truly enhance the results of your dermarolling procedure. The reason why it has most dermatologists at a fence as to whether to give their support or not is that it’s a sensitising ingredient that can make the skin a lot more vulnerable to irritation and lead to more aggressive reactions to dermarolling.
If you have sensitive skin it’s best to stay away from it or at least do a patch test to see how your skin is going to react.
Vitamin C might have gained more popularity because it’s more potent and can maximize results, but it’s risky and with more side-effects. This is why I would declare hyaluronic acid as the real hero among the best after-treatment ingredients to use.
Many dermatologists agree that hyaluronic acid is the ultimate ingredient to apply after dermarolling. It has antioxidative properties; it replenishes the skin; it’s the god of hydration - attracts and retains moisture; it stimulates collagen production - which makes it an anti-aging ingredient; it’s gentle to the skin.
We mentioned that microneedling boosts the transdermal absorption of all topical products, or in other words - your skincare products will be more efficient because they’ll be directly entering into deeper layers of the skin.
This is why continuing your skincare routine after using a dermaroller is okay, and beneficial even, but products with active ingredients can make things worse.
The problem is when the channels are open they won’t select the good and beneficial ingredients. Toxic and potentially harmful chemicals will also be absorbed deeper and cause adverse reactions and complications.
Here are the ingredients you should avoid:
There are a lot of ingredients that might cause problems after dermarolling. It’s best that you ask your dermatologist to give you a list of all the things you need to stay away from.
Aloe vera is the home ingredients version of what works best after using the dermaroller. It’s praised by many bloggers that are familiar with dermarolling and microneedling procedures. Aloe vera is a potent antioxidant, loaded with vitamins and it’s really soothing for the skin, especially irritated skin. But, there are no good resources to confirm that it’s recommended by doctors and dermatologists. If you’re planning to use aloe vera after your dermaroller, it’s best that you check that with your doctor or dermatologist.
Coconut oil is another common ingredient in the after-care for dermarolling. It’s antibacterial, which can be really beneficial while the skin is healing and reduce the risk of infection. The problem with coconut oil is that’s highly comedogenic - ingredients you should stay away from.
If you have dry skin and have been using coconut oil products before in your skincare routine, you can probably still use it and benefit from it, a day or two after the procedure. This would be after the micro-channels have already closed.
I would say to stay away from it in the first couple of hours because of its comedogenic properties.
Derivatives from Vitamin A, such as retinol, are one of the most powerful and proven rejuvenating skincare ingredients which can definitely help the skin heal. But, and this is one big but, retinol has a potent and highly transformative potential that makes it unsuitable after dermarolling. It could really irritate the deeper layers of the skin and tamper with the main purpose of dermarolling.
Some professionals might give retinol the green light if you’re using 0.2-0.3mm needles, but it’s still best if you go for alternative and more gentle products.