A Complete Guide to Microneedling

Microneedling 101 - Cosmetic Composition

I know I know I know, you don’t need to tell me – I’m like two years behind publishing an article about microneedling but I don’t care I’m going to re-share all the info you probably forgot by now. Micro-rolling, micro-needling, derma-rolling, whatever you want to call it, is the process of inducing collagen production through tiny needles that you roll around your face and body. Traditionally, this procedure is performed by estheticians, medical technicians, and dermatologists; however, within the last few years, Pinterest and brands like Stacked Skincare have made this treatment possible to perform at home. As a scientist, I was extremely curious about this tool and immediately purchased one and now as an esthetician-in-training, this product makes me very nervous thinking about people use it at home. So I am here to explain the science, safety and skin benefits behind the crazy idea of inducing damage on our precious skin with a bunch of needles.

The Science 

When this treatment is performed in a medical spa or dermatologists office it is actually Collagen Induced Therapy (CIT), this treatment must be performed by someone who is licensed or trained to do so because they are puncturing the skin. Check the regulations in your state to see if you should be visiting an esthetician or medical assistant for this treatment as it varies in each state (for example, here in Illinois estheticians are not allowed to perform services that puncture the skin). CIT is much more extensive than the at-home microneedling as it will reach further down into your skin by using needles up to 3.0 mm in size and the presence of blood is likely.

Microneedling 101 - Cosmetic Composition (4)

In simplest terms, the concept behind microneedling is creating small holes in your skin which trigger collagen synthesis in the skin and may allow active ingredients (applied after or with the rolling) to reach the deeper layers of the skin. The needles cause an inflammation response in the skin, which essentially causes the skin cells to freak out and go into production mode to repair the damage creating fresh skin cells. This process is extremely delicate since the skin is being damaged, so CIT must be monitored properly.

CIT can help fade acne scars, induce collagen synthesis, reduce stretch marks, and decrease wrinkle appearance. At-home microneedling can improve skin plumpness, minor collagen synthesis and help maximize active ingredient penetration. The benefits are correlated to the size of the needle being used. Since at-home needles should be much much smaller (more on this later) the benefits are going to vary. If you want the benefits from CIT I’d recommend finding a good medical spa or dermatologists office who can perform the procedure and monitor your skin. Doing the at-home treatment can be a fun addition to your skincare routine and induce minor but great skin improvements.

The Safety 

Spending many years in labs and an entire 22 years being terrified of germs I take the safety of a tools/treatments like this very seriously. If you are receiving CIT the technicians should be properly cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing the tools properly to remove any blood, bodily fluids and harmful germs that remain on the roller. If you are feeling paranoid about whether this is happening kindly ask your tech and I’m sure they’d be happy to share with you how they sanitize the tool.

Microneedling 101 - Cosmetic Composition (2)If you own an at-home roller you must be diligent about your sanitation. But first, we need to go to over the needle sizes for at-home use. The needle size needs to be between 0.2 mm and 0.5 mm and stainless steel. I purchased my 0.2 mm roller from StackedSkinCare, which comes with a nifty plastic case to store the roller in for before and after use. Safety precautions must be taken before and after using this tool. I’d recommend examining your skin before the treatment to make sure that you don’t have any open wounds, active acne breakouts or sunburns before rolling. Additionally, make sure that the roller appears clean from your last use (keeping it in a safe place and in the plastic container will help with this).

After the rolling takes place, leave the tool on a clean surface while you finish up your skincare routine. Once your moisturizer in on, wash your hands and begin the sanitation process. Rinse the tool with warm water, wash with a gentle soap and water, and finally clean with rubbing alcohol. The easiest way to do this is to have a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol ready and a clean washcloth to leave the roller on until it is dry and ready to go back in the case.

The Skin

To recap what I’ve written earlier, CIT and at-home microneedling have various benefits depending on the needle type and complementary active ingredients. CIT triggers collagen synthesis, helps with wrinkles and fine line appearance, cellulite, acne scars and overall skin appearance. At-home microneedling will help push active ingredients into the skin, exfoliate, plump skin, possibly induce minor collagen synthesis and assist with overall skin appearance. Personally, since I do not have any major acne scarring, wrinkles or fine lines I opt for at-home microneedling. However, if you are suffering from wrinkles, scars, or dull skin I’d highly recommend visiting a profession to look into CIT.

Microneedling 101 - Cosmetic Composition (3)

I’ve had my StackedSkinCare roller for 2 years now so here are a few pieces of advice I’ve learned:

  • For a gentle roll, use the microneedler over a sheet mask. It will help push the essence into your skin and provide a nice plumping reaction
  • As long as you don’t have any broken skin using the roller over your lips is a great way to give a little plump without having to apply any stinging lip products
  • I use my roller after cleansing and toning my face, and apply my serum of the moment after rolling followed by a heavy moisturizer
  • Do not perform this treatment during the daytime since it can irritate skin in the sunshine
  • Absolutely do not share this tool with anyone. While it may not seem that you’re breaking the skin you never know and this is incredibly risky to cross-contaminate with someone else’s skin

Update: The FDA recently released a document about the consideration for regulation on microneedling devices – read it here

Have any questions or suggestions on how to approach this treatment? Let me know below. Happy rolling! 

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