The Simple Guide to Using a Derma Roller at Home
Everyone and their beauty-savvy aunt have heard of derma rolling already. It’s quite the scandalous concept, doesn’t it? I mean, who gets hundreds of needle punctures on their face to achieve better skin? Those who know best, as it turns out— and for good reason! Derma rolling (as well as its more hardcore, in-clinic sibling, micro-needling) is rapidly becoming the go-to treatment for a host of different skin goals. Wanna minimise acne scars, refine pores, or even smooth away pesky little ageing lines? Using a derma roller lets you tackle all those issues in one compact treatment. It’s practical, innovative, and, really, the pain level is totally manageable. And the best part is— you can do it at home! But (and this is an important but) you’ve got to be very clear on what you’re doing. Which is why we’re getting all the information on at-home derma rolling to you, bite-sized and ready-to-go. Convenient, huh?
Get your favourite playlist on and start rolling!
Why do Derma Rolling? The benefits
Let’s start with the basics— a derma roller is a small, handheld device that looks like the love child of your ravioli cutter and a pincushion. The rolling side (the pincushion side) is a cylinder covered in hundreds of fine micro needles of varying lengths (from 0.25 mm to 2 mm long) to work on different skin problems.
Why stab yourself in the face with all those hundreds of tiny needles? Derma rolling your facial skin with a solid strategy (the right derma roller size + the right frequency + the right skincare):
- Plumps and thickens the skin, minimising dark circles and under-the-surface imperfections.
- Fills in ageing lines and wrinkles.
- Will make your skin-repairing serum penetrate 90% more effectively.
- Corrects discolourations, pigmentation (like age spots!), and sun damage.
- Resolves stretch marks.
- Thickens and rejuvenates your entire complexion.
And, as opposed to in-clinic microneedling, with derma rolling the power is all in your hands: you do it at home, with much less pain and gore, and the whole process is way thriftier.
What Derma Rolling won’t do — Derma rolling is amazing but it isn’t a cure-all. Derma rolling won’t help with current inflammation, postinflammatory erythema, or very dry and fragile complexions. It also can’t be used to treat the finest skin on your face, like that around the eyes.
The science on derma rolling.
Who got the idea? Vogue-worthy skin guru Alyson Bessell said that, perhaps surprisingly, this technique is a smart combo of ancient acupuncture methods and contemporary advances in mesotherapy (micro injections under the skin’s surface). But how does derma rolling work? It’s a simple principle, really. As you roll the device over your complexion, the needles lightly puncture it, causing minimal injuries. That’s a good thing— it triggers a natural repair response in your skin cells, which produce collagen and elastin (the experts call this a ‘collagen induction therapy’). Collagen and elastin are just what you need to keep your skin feeling youthful, radiant, and strong. These two proteins are naturally produced by the body, only age makes that production slow down (it goes down 1% per year after age 20, cheers!). When you derma roll, you’re essentially giving your skin a firm nudge to start rejuvenating and restoring itself.
What size of derma roller do you need?
Believe it or not, there are differently-sized derma roller needles that suit different purposes best.
- Acne scars: 1 mm if they’re surface-level; 1.5 mm if they are deep.
- Scars and stretch marks: 1.5 mm.
- Skin discolouration: 0.25 to 0.5 mm for postinflammatory pigmentation, 0.2 to 1 mm for run-of-the-mill pigmentation, 0.5 to 1.5 mm (or a combination roller) for sun damage.
- Evening out the skin tone and texture: 0.5 mm.
- Refining pores: 0.25 to 0.5 mm.
- Plumping up sagging skin: 0.5 to 1.5 mm or a combination of lengths.
- Reversing age lines and wrinkles: 0.5 to 1.5 mm.
If you’re in doubt or a total newbie, you should probably stick to the smaller sizes. Anything upwards of 1 mm will cause bleeding, and you should not use 2 mm (or higher) needles at home— save deeper treatments for professional microneedling.
How often should you use your derma roller?
Rule of thumb: the longer your needles, the longer you’ll have to wait between uses. Here’s a basic outline:
- If your needles are 0.25 mm— use the roller every other day.
- If your needles are 0.5 mm— start with once a week, working up to three times a week.
- If your needles are 1 mm— every ten days to 2 weeks.
- If your needles are 1.5 mm— every 3 weeks.
How to use your derma roller in 8 easy steps
- Disinfect. Start by making sure your derma roller is safe to use by soaking it in alcohol (70% should be fine) for 10 minutes.
- Cleanse. Use a gentle cleanser to remove debris and makeup from your skin, you can even use some alcohol to stay safe (this is key with the longer needle lengths).
- Numb. Applying numbing cream isn’t necessary for needle lengths up to 0.5, but a good idea above that. If you do go for it, wipe all excess before the next step.
- Get rolling. Finally! Avoiding the fragile eye area, roll over these sections: forehead, cheeks, chin. The method? Start by choosing a section and rolling vertically, in one direction, 6 to 8 times, lifting the device after each pass. Continue until you’ve covered the whole section. Then, do the same thing horizontally (we do not roll diagonally). Keep doing this until you’ve covered all the sections.
- Rinse. Using only cool water, rinse your now-activated skin.
- Clean. Use dishwasher soap and water to cleanse all reside from your derma roller.
- Sterilize. Get your roller into alcohol for ten more minutes.
- Pamper yourself. It’s time to make use of all that sweet skin care enhancement power and nourish your pretty little face with hydrating and nourishing serums.
The best skincare for Derma Rolling
We’ve established why derma rolling is great for your skin. But why not also use it to power up your skincare routine? It’s a fact: those tiny needles enhance whatever product you apply right after. It’s important to be mindful, though— harsh active ingredients can irritate your now sensitised complexion. So, for derma rolling skin care, you want to focus on nourishing, hydrating and soothing.
The best ingredients for derma rolling skincare?
Vitamin C— Wait, didn’t we just say ‘no harsh actives’? Well, yes we did, kudos to you for attention! The thing is the benefits of Vitamin C make it worth it— it’s high antioxidant and will protect your complexion against ageing and damage, evening out the skin tone and nourishing deeply. All that said, you’ll have to be careful with the application: because it’s acidic, only use it if your skin is not sensitive and perhaps wait one or two days after rolling.
We like: Vitamin C Serum by Beauty Tofu, with plant-sourced, bioavailable Vitamin C from Hibiscus flower extract and a flood of supportive antioxidants extracted from grape seed. It’ll leave your skin radiant, toned, and healthy.
Hyaluronic Acid— This superpowered hydration bomb is all your skin needs to stay supple, plump, and bright. It’ll help lock in much-needed moisture after the stress of derma rolling.
We like: Hydr8 B5 by Medik8, which pairs up balancing Hyaluronic Acid with Vitamin B5, an anti-inflammatory and anti-itching active to write songs about (that’s how much we love it). This rehydration serum acts fast, plumping up the skin with water content and nutrients, doubling up on the action to manage lines and wrinkles.
Charcoal + Antioxidants— The combination of a purifying agent and a shielding one is stellar. Charcoal is a gentle way to cleanse your complexion from impurities, keeping the results of your microneedling safe. And, of course, natural antioxidants are best to protect and revitalise your glow.
We like: R3 Serum by Beauty Tofu, which harnesses advanced activated charcoal as well as all-botanical antioxidants (from luscious Rosehip Oil & Baobab Oil, among others) to deep-cleanse and illuminate your skin. There’s more: this nutritious serum balances oil production and stimulates damaged cells to repair themselves for extra luminosity.
Niacinamide— Quite possibly the best ingredient for derma rolling aftercare, Niacinamide soothes inflammation, supports hydration, and even teams up with the derma rolling process to normalise pigmentation and oil production on your skin.
We like: Extreme B17 by Aspect, which gives you a pump of good B vitamins. The star of the show is (you guessed it) Niacinamide, aka Vitamin B3. The soothing and conditioning action of this key vitamin, combined with natural antioxidants, gives you a protected and moisturised glow.
Niacinamide + Betaine— What’s better than hydrating, soothing, balancing Niacinamide? Niacinamide plus super-hydrating betaine, a natural moisturizing factor taken from sugar beet molasses (yum…?). This controls water balance, keeping your skin hydrated and all moisture locked in tight, for the long run.
We like: Snowflower Fortifying Serum by Eight Brook, a serum that combines both hydrating Betaine and balancing Niacinamide to calm and protect post-dermal-rolling skin. As it adds antioxidants and sweet Kakadu plum Vitamin C, this nourishing skincare is perfect to deliver a punch of nutrition, moisture, and shielding to your irritated skin. Recommended to maximise results safely!
Aloe + Seaweed— Aloe is an age-old, natural, and traditional hydrating agent that brings down irritation and sensitivity (like that caused by micro needles). Seaweed, on the other hand, is great for enhancing skin nutrition, firmness and brightness. The combination makes for a very necessary calming + restorative effect.
We like: Hydration Rescue Gel by Organic Nations, which pairs up these two superstar ingredients (Aloe Vera and extract of Carrageenan seaweed) with extra-soothing plant goodies: calendula and comfrey to calm your active complexion down. This rescue gel is one-of-a-kind. We’re in love with its ability to rehabilitate you fragile skin at such a pivotal time: used right after derma rolling, you’ll most definitely feel the difference.
And that’s a wrap! Now you know all you need to get your derma rolling ball rolling (get it? Rolling? Anyone?). So choose your derma roller and your luscious, nourishing derma rolling skincare, and get ready for the most luminous skin of your life!