Microneedle skin rollers like this one from Sdara Skincare (also called derma rollers) create micro-injuries to the skin. Yes, it sounds scary, but these micro-injuries send messages to the brain to boost collagen and elastin production, resulting in tighter, smoother, plumper skin. Additionally, when used with a serum, microneedling boosts ingredient absorption up to 90%! But is all that worth rolling hundreds of tiny needles repeatedly over your face? Stick with me and we’ll find out.
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Tested August-October 2020
Creating micro-injuries to the the skin in an effort to heal imperfections isn’t a new idea. In 1905, a German dermatologist named Ernst Kromayer used “various-sized dental burrs mounted on motor-driven flexible cord equipment” to treat acne scars, hyperpigmentation and birth marks. Dental burrs? I’m so glad it’s not 1905 anymore! Flash forward to the 1950’s and dermatologists were seen using wire brushes to the same effect. Now, in 2020, we’ve upgraded to stainless steel and titanium. If the idea of puncturing your face with needles still gives you the heebie jeebies, it might help to think of these as more of a pin-prick.
Not once during the last six weeks of regularly using this Sdara Microneedle Skin Roller have I ever drawn blood. That’s the difference between at-home versus in-office microneedling treatments. A dermatologist administered microneedling session will make you bleed (both your face and wallet; treatments cost several hundred dollars). The doc will likely first apply numbing cream, then repeatedly roll or stamp needles up to 2.5mm in diameter all over your face. You will be red, very red, and sore like a sunburn, likely for several days. At home, you’re likely using needles measuring only 0.25-0.5mm in thickness (like the Sdara Microneedle Skin Roller) and with only as much pressure as you’re comfortable. I found the amount of pressure/depth of needling directly corresponds with the amount of liquid courage you’ve first imbibed.
On to the science of this skincare treatment…a 2008 study showed that skin treated with four microneedling sessions, one month apart, produced up to a 400% increase in elastin and collagen in the six months after treatment. Dermatologists near and far tout the benefits of microneedling, listing its many applications: hyperpigmentation, scars, wrinkles, uneven tone, dryness, texture and hair loss.
So we’ve established microneedling’s many benefits, on to the drawbacks. First and foremost, it hurts. You’ll see in the video below that my skin instantly flushes, my eyes tear and despite my best efforts, there’s a slight cringe and a very set jaw. The good news? The sensation is much more temporary than the results. Even with the smallest needles and gentle pressure my face was still quite red for several hours after so there is some down time. I used the Sdara Microneedle Skin Roller the day before family photos, making sure to effectively moisturize, and felt downright glowy the next day. Microneedle skin rollers aren’t terribly expensive ($18-$30 depending on whether the head is replaceable, and you do need to replace it about every 10 uses).
A fair amount of internet crawling combined with trial and error have provided me with a concise list of microneedling do’s and don’ts, which I’m here to share with all of you.
Microneedling Do’s // Don’ts
Do sterilize your roller with alcohol before use
Do ensure your face is squeaky clean
Do roll in multiple directions (try an asterisk pattern)
Do apply a hydrating, soothing and/or antioxidant serum immediately after use
Do replace your roller head ~every 10 uses
Do spot treat (rolling the whole face is not necessary)
Don’t apply anything irritating or strong immediately after use
Don’t apply makeup or sunscreen for 24 hours (or 2-3 days for in-office treatments)
Don’t use a needle larger than 1.5mm
Don’t use on irritated skin (rashes, acne, etc.)
Don’t use on the delicate eye area
The science behind microneedling is compelling. Additionally, thousands of positive reviews on the Sdara Microneedle Skin Roller’s Amazon listing are hard to ignore. Hands down, the most powerful experience I had with my microneedle skin roller was while Liz and I were testing products from The Ordinary (check out that review here). I used The Ordinary’s Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% multiple times on its own and saw literally no effect. Then my Sdara Microneedle Skin Roller arrived and I paired the two together- the results were astounding! The difference between the efficacy of the vitamin C solution pre-and-post microneedling was obvious. This left me wondering how much, if any, of my expensive skincare products are actually penetrating my skin? Have I been wasting money for years without a microneedle skin roller?!
I’ve continued to use the Sdara Microneedle Skin Roller in my weekly routine. Typically, I use it Friday nights before my evening serum (I love this hydrator for sensitive skin by Caudalie), then I stay bare faced Saturday out of an abundance of caution. This regime has left my face softer, better moisturized, and dare I say, with fewer fine lines.
The jury is still out for me on the long term results of using the smallest needles available during an at-home treatment, but the discomfort is bearable and immediate absorption of skin care products worth it to me. Whoever said “beauty is pain” was definitely coming from one of these microneedling treatments. In spite of this, I’m sticking with my microneedle skin roller because this is one of the few beauty treatments and tools where results are proven and undeniable.