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We Tried It

At-Home Dermarolling Is Weird, But It Actually Works

The magical results of rolling a bunch of micro-needles on your skin.

By: Chelsey Burnside

For as long as I can remember, my skin has given me away. If I’m tired, the telltale purplish half-moons will let you know all about it. If I’m nervous, I flush a deep, rashy red from my cheeks to my chest. If I’m stressed (ha ha ha...if), I’ll wake up 16 again, patches of angry acne screaming at me to calm the fuck down.

Needless to say, I have a complicated relationship with my epidermis (which I can only assume is not aided by my strict diet of cheese on salad but only eating the cheese, followed by seven hours of sleeping on my face.)

So, being the regular Gwyneth I am, I decided that rather than alter these destructive habits/go see a dermatologist, I would rub tiny needles all over my face in order to grow new skin on top of my old shitty skin, because science.

And you know what? It kind of seems to be working.

Here’s what’s happened since I got my hands on a dermaroller—a cheap little instrument lined with micro-needles that you roll all over your face (just hear me out, okay?).

 

How it works

Also called “collagen induction therapy,” dermarolling creates teeny-tiny punctures on the skin’s surface, stimulating skin repair and cell regeneration. Applying the same logic as your friend Beth who won’t stop dating drummers, you’re hurting your skin to encourage it to heal over itself, making it stronger and better-looking afterwards (again, science). It’s said to help improve the look of fine lines, acne scarring, dark circles, and overall skin texture.

 

Start small

There are different sizes of microneedles you can get, ranging from didn’t shave today to “typhoid vaccination.* Start between 0.25 and 0.5 mm and work your way up.

*Medical descriptions, of course.

 

How to use it

Step One: Wash your dermaroller with soap and water.

Step Two: Wash your face and apply a good moisturizer or serum (I use Keihl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate or Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum). I’ve also read that exfoliating with a chemical peel beforehand can heighten the effects.

Step Three: Gently roll the dermaroller horizontally, vertically, and diagonally about 10 times over your skin, including your lips but avoiding eyelids or right under your eyes. I’d recommend only using it at night.

Step Four: Spritz with rubbing alcohol and let it dry completely. Store in its plastic case between uses.

Step Five: Hold off at least a week before repeating. As a general rule, the smaller the needle, the more often you can use it (when you get up to 1 mm, the internet recommends 4 to 6 weeks between seshes).

 

Yes, it’s a little painful

“Okay, so is it supposed to hurt?” came the text from my mom days after I ordered her to hop on Amazon and buy one of these tiny torture devices like the excellent daughter I am. Answer: well, yes.

On a pain scale from eyebrow threading to bone marrow donation, it’s around pap-smear-level discomfort. Imagine rubbing a spool with hundreds of tiny needles all over your face, because that is exactly what you’re doing. I should have taken the hint from the “After Cleaning Off the Blood” photo on dermarollerinfo.com (but in all seriousness, my face hasn’t bled at all—it’s just gone redder than that time I wore expired sunscreen in Playa del Carmen).

 

The verdict

All biases aside, I’m a dermarolling convert. I go to sleep redder than Trump in his “Make America Great Again” hat and wake up my usual piglet Pantone, skin baby- (fine, toddler-)smooth and fine-line free. The biggest difference has been in the parenthetical lines bracketing either side of my mouth—after four rolling “treatments,” the creases have noticeably relaxed.

A couple of things: Be super diligent about sunscreen. I went for a run the morning after dermarolling and wound up with an inexplicable winter sunburn.

And don’t overdo it! Pain aside, it can be addictive, but don’t use your dermaroller more than once a week. Capiche?

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