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Everything You Need to Know About Derma Rollers

I love educating others about how a facial brush can help their skin care routine.

Should you get a derma roller? Here's everything you need to know before deciding.

Should you get a derma roller? Here's everything you need to know before deciding.

Derma Rolling Skin Treatments

Derma rolling (also known as micro-needling) is used to treat and heal skin care problems. It can be used on the face, neck, and scalp as a deep peeling treatment. Certain derma rollers are used on the scalp to stimulate hair growth by increasing blood flow.

As a facial treatment, derma rollers target several problematic areas. Many people do this procedure if their skin is too sensitive for a laser treatment. Read on for the advantages of using a derma roller.

Your #1 Skin Care Product

A derma roller is a rolling "barrel" that's studded with rows of fine needles. It's used in salons and as an at-home treatment for acne scars, wrinkles, pot marks and for the induction of collagen. The procedure is simple: the fine needles penetrate the surface of the skin to break down scar tissue and stimulate blood flow. The result is new skin tissue, strengthened collagen and scar reduction. Your skin after this treatment, now slightly punctured, will easily absorb skin care products.

The derma roller will only go as deep as the length of the needle, which varies depending on which style you purchase.

A 1.0 mm Derma Roller with 200 needles by Petunia Skin Care

A 1.0 mm Derma Roller with 200 needles by Petunia Skin Care


  • Fine & Deep Wrinkles: This minimal treatment can reduce fine lines, such as crows feet, and deep wrinkles found on the forehead. To treat fine wrinkles, a needle length no greater than 1.5 should be used.
  • Scars: Scar tissue is broken down with 1.5 mm needles. Acne scars can be treated with 1.0 mm needles. Over several weeks, scarring is minimized.
  • Sun Damage and Pigmentation: Derma rollers with needles that range between 1.0 mm to 1.5 mm in length can treat skin that's damaged by the sun. It can also smooth discoloration and even skin pigmentation (for sensitive skin, read the section on side effects and pigmentation).
  • Aging Skin: Older men and women can benefit from derma rolling. Loose, aging skin can be tightened through stimulation and the building of collagen.
  • Product Absorption: Little punctures enable skin-care products to become easily absorbed into the skin. As a result, the products become more effective and the skin is better treated.

After use, the skin will be very red and sensitive, which may lead into the next day. This is normal. Days later, your skin will most likely start to peel, and become dry and flaky. It's important to have a decent moisturizer on hand.

Needle Sizes, Quantity & Benefits

Needles on a derma roller should always be sharp. Before using the product, check for dull needles. If the needles are dull, return the product and get your money back. Dull needles will only damage your skin.

Needle lengths range from 0.5 mm to 2.0 mm. Because the derma roll goes only as deep as the length of the needle, it goes without saying that the longer the needle, the more painful the procedure. Longer needles also create more effective treatments. Needles as high as 2.0 mm can treat cellulite, while smaller needles can't do. At-home use will see needle lengths no greater than 1.5 mm. Anything longer calls for professional treatment.

The amount of needles can be as few as 200 or as many as 540. The fewer the needles, the greater the pain. Longer needles also increase the production of collagen.

How to Use a Derma Roller: Products and Techniques

The video above, from Innercore, shows a basic way to use a derma roller. As you can see, the process is very simple. Most people wonder if the procedure is painful. This varies depending on your pain tolerance, but the needles will sting as you roll them across your skin. You may bleed. If you don't see light bleeding, you may be using the product too gently. That being said, never apply extreme pressure. Some people choose to use an anesthesia to decrease the pain, but this isn't necessary.

Most directions say to use the derma roller in criss-cross motions, as seen in the Innercore video. This technique has changed in recent years. Rather than criss-cross motions, horizontal and vertical motions are more effective in dispersing even punctures along the skin.

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Derma Roller Products

You will need:

  • Skin cleanser
  • Numbing cream
  • Vitamin C serum
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Coconut oil (optional)


  1. Before using your derma roller, wash your skin with a good, antibacterial cleanser.
  2. Rinse the cleanser off thoroughly. Dab your skin with a towel until dry.
  3. If using a numbing cream, apply it to your face after towel drying. Apply more than one application to better numb the area, allowing the ointment to fully seep into your skin before each application.
  4. Once the numbing cream has activated, repeat steps one and two.
  5. Use the derma roller in horizontal and vertical motions, similar to the technique found in the video. Whenever you want to do another area, lift up the derma roller instead of dragging it to the next location.
  6. Once you've completed rolling, rinse your face with the antibacterial cleanser. Pat dry. Apply your Vitamin C serum (or Hyaluronic Acid, to hydrate your skin-recommended).
  7. Apply optional coconut oil.

How Often and How Long to Use a Derma Roller

Some package instructions may say to use the product once or twice a week. This is not necessary, and not advised. The needles do puncture the skin, which means the skin needs time to heal. You can use your derma roller once a month, but it's recommended to use it once every 40 days. If you use the smallest needles, you can get away with using it daily or weekly.

How long should one treatment last? This is a very good question, but it varies for everyone. There should be no fixed time. However long it takes you to go over the affected area one time is how long it takes one treatment. Make sure to read and re-read the process of derma rolling in this article until you're confident enough to use the product.

Vitamin C serum is an essential step in any skin care regimen.

Vitamin C serum is an essential step in any skin care regimen.

Skin Care Products & Other Tips

  • Vitamin C serums are among the best anti-aging and skin-rejuvenating treatments on the market. When used after derma rolling, you will see smoother, younger skin in a matter of weeks. Because of this, vitamin C serums are the best creams to use after derma rolling. For the next week, you should wash your face with your antibacterial (and anti-inflammatory) cleanser, pat dry and apply an organic vitamin C serum and Hyaluronic Acid.
  • A few days after using a derma roller, you should avoid using make-up, unless it's mineral make-up.
  • An antibacterial cleanser should be used for a week after doing this skin care procedure to fight bacteria.
  • Clean your derma roller before and after each use. Before use, sterilize it in rubbing alcohol for one minute, and then roll. After your treatment, carefully clean it with soap and water, making sure that every row of needles gets cleaned. Sterilize it in rubbing alcohol for a few minutes, and then leave it to air dry.
  • You can also clean it in boiling water if your skin is sensitive to sterilizing products

Risks & Side Effects

Derma rollers don't come without risks. People may experience skin problems. When used on skin with acne, it will worsen your condition (they also shouldn't be used on moles). Some may experience skin problems, such as pigmentation, depending on the sensitivity of their skin.

It may cause allergic reactions. If you break out in a rash, seek medical help.

You're in control of the pressure, which may be good or bad. You have to decide how much pressure is too much pressure, and if you aren't a professional, there's no telling if you're too aggressive or too gentle. On the one hand, you may damage the skin. On the other, you may not use the product effectively. Your skin will become inflamed, which may cause infections.

Your Experiences

Have you ever used a derma roller? Comment and share your experiences!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Elizabeth P on October 21, 2016:

Thanks so much for this article; very informative. I just used my say-home derma roller last night for the first time. I suppose I wasn't aggressive enough because I didn't notice even "slight" bleeding, however, my skin definitely seemed more (plump?) this morning! Not in a swollen way, in a healthy way. I didn't expect to see results after one treatment but my skin has definitely been more full the entire day (it's now 6pm).

My face was very irritated after the treatment though; like the itch/discomfort of sunburn. Enough that I couldn't fall asleep. I keep one of those rice-filled muscle relaxers in the freezer and just rested that over my face in bed; that did the trick. Was out in minutes.

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