Despite its somewhat intimidating name, microneedling has slowly emerged to become a favourite of beauty and skincare enthusiasts the world over. Whilst sharing similar benefits of harsher cosmetic treatments such as laser skin resurfacing and intensive peels, microneedling boasts fewer side-effects and a much quicker recovery time, and many have shared their success stories online.
Naturally, professional microneedling is carried out at clinics and aesthetic spas, but seasoned microneedlers may want to attempt treatment at home – and this is absolutely possible, using one of the many at-home microneedling pens available on the market.
Many will have seen them advertised on Amazon or heard about them from friends, but are microneedling pens truly worth the purchase? How do microneedling pens even work? Are they best done by a professional in a clinic? All that and more, in the Dukes Avenue guide to microneedling and microneedling pens.
- What is Microneedling?
- Derma Roller vs Microneedling: Is There a Difference?
- Who is Microneedling For?
- What Does Microneedling Treat?
- Microneedling Downtime
- Microneedling Aftercare
- How to Use Microneedling Pens at Home
- The Microneedling Pen Kit
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What is Microneedling?
Microneedling is a cosmetic treatment involving a tool that uses tiny needles to gently prick the skin. This procedure purposely inflicts minute wounds which the body aims to heal, just as it would any other wound – by creating more collagen in the wounded area. This boost in collagen production and resultant increased skin turnover helps the skin look more radiant and improves elasticity – and no, it is not painful!
When done professionally, the treatment typically begins with a facial cleanse, and depending on the clinic, the aesthetician may apply a numbing cream to prevent the pricking sensation of the needles. The treatment generally lasts around 20 minutes per session and is performed over four to six sessions, with each appointment being spaced around four weeks apart. With each appointment, the needles are inserted deeper into the skin as the skin gradually gets thicker, with the full results seen at the end of the series of appointments. By the fourth round of treatment, many fans of microneedling have reported a marked improvement in their skin’s appearance and texture.
Whilst this treatment is offered at various beauty clinics, there are a number of do-it-yourself microneedling devices, such as home microneedling pens and dermarollers (ideal for microneedling beginners), that make it easy for those inclined to perform microneedling treatment at home. The needles in at-home microneedling tools will be somewhat shorter and duller than those used in a clinic which typically range from 0.5 to 2.5 mm, and this yields different results. Whilst visiting clinics for any microneedling needs will likely generate better results, they can be quite costly depending on where the salon is located.
Derma Roller vs Microneedling: Is There a Difference?
Many will wonder if there is a difference between dermarollers and microneedling pens – after all, both use tiny needles to penetrate the face. Whilst this is true enough, there are a few crucial differences to be aware of before purchasing one or the other.
- Ease of use. With derma rolling, skill is not an issue. The needles are fixed, the angle is already set and all one has to do is roll this tool against the skin. This is perhaps why microneedling beginners tend to opt for a dermaroller instead of the more professional and intimidating microneedling pen. Nevertheless, the pen certainly offers more precision and efficacy when handled well.
- Ability to regulate penetration. Unlike microneedling pens, whose replacement cartridges offer the option for different sized needles, dermal rollers are highly limited by the fixed needles they are sold with. As dermarollers’ penetration depth cannot be adjusted, they are not as effective as microneedling pens when used upon thicker areas of the body or parts of the face which has thicker skin tissue.
- Angling. A microneedling pen allows the user to suitably manipulate the angle so that it is held perpendicular to the skin. This ensures that the needles safely penetrate the skin without causing any unnecessary damage. On the other hand, the needles on dermarollers cannot be adjusted and the angle of their penetration may cause tears, which can lead to more side effects and a longer recovery time.
To summarise, anyone new to microneedling treatments may prefer to try it out at a professional clinic, before investing in a microneedling pen for home-use. Instead, a dermaroller might be a better starting point, to become familiar with the feeling of the needles puncturing the skin.
Who is Microneedling For?
Almost anyone can benefit from this procedure. Everyone’s skin is prone to lose elasticity over time and microneedling helps to fight against visible signs of aging.
That said, it’s important not to use a microneedling pen or dermaroller over active acne, or if pregnant or nursing.
What Does Microneedling Treat?
Microneedling offers heaps of benefits. Apart from being a preventive treatment against premature signs of ageing, microneedling also helps to treat a variety of skin-related issues, from acne scarring to stretchmarks. Here is a list of benefits that can be expected:
- Smooths out fine lines and wrinkles
- Improves the skin’s elasticity
- Treats scar tissue
- Minimises the size of pores
- Minimises the appearance of stretch marks
- Reduces rosacea
- Helps to treat hyperpigmentation
Microneedling for Acne
Studies have shown that microneedling helps reduce the appearance of acne scars. With the production of collagen, acne scars are encouraged to heal as the skin rejuvenates itself.
When using a microneedling pen for acne scars, it is important to consider the size of the needles. Using longer needles could damage the skin whilst needles that are too short may prove ineffective. It is recommended that needles between 0.5mm and 1mm long are used, as these should sufficiently stimulate collagen production and help maintain healthy looking skin.
As mentioned earlier, if completely new to microneedling, consider starting off with dermarollers at home, and discussing microneedling with a trained aesthetician before attempting microneedling at home (especially for severe scarring). Dermarolling or microneedling should never be done on active acne.
Microneedling for Stretch Marks
In boosting collagen production, the skin becomes more supple and its texture retains its softness. Naturally, the appearance of stretch marks is also much improved in the process! Whilst stretch marks are notoriously difficult to treat, the positive effect of microneedling in treating stretch marks has been backed up by various scientific studies. Many have reported noting a 50% improvement in the appearance of strechmarks after as little as two treatment sessions, so this is definitely worth giving a try!
Microneedling Under Eyes
As the natural production of collagen and the elastin in the skin gradually decreases with age and due to lifestyle choices, dark circles under the eyes, as well as fine lines and wrinkles, start to become visible. Microneedling stimulates cell growth and encourages the skin to self-heal, making it an excellent treatment for those pesky dark circles.
Recovering from microneedling treatment does not usually take more than 24 hours. Most are able to go about their day, with no inconvenience caused by the treatment. That said, it is best to avoid wearing makeup for at least 24 hours after microneedling. The longer makeup is avoided, the better.
It’s crucial to wait between four and six weeks before repeating the microneedling process to prevent damaging or irritating the skin unnecessarily. This is particularly important when using longer needles, although this should not be a concern for at home microneedling, where needles shorter than 2mm are used.
The treatment itself might only take a few minutes but the aftercare will take much longer and is just as important! Here are a few ways to take care of the skin after using a microneedling pen.
- Keep it clean. Like any other wound, it is important not to pick or touch the treated area unnecessarily. This will help to keep it clean and free from bacteria. It’s best to change any bedding and towels on the day of microneedling treatment as an extra precaution against infection.
- Avoid intense exercise and sweating. During the first 24 hours after microneedling, skin will be more sensitive. Excessive sweating could possibly irritating the skin which is why exercise should be avoided at the this stage of aftercare.
- Hydrate. It is very likely that skin will feel dryer than usual after using a microneedling pen. By increasing the intake of fluids, the skin remain hydrated.
- Consume protein. When getting collagen induction therapy, help the body by consuming the right variety of food; foods like edamame, chickpeas and lentils. Beans and legumes are high-protein foods that often contain the amino acids necessary for collagen synthesis.
- Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol. It is common knowledge that smoking and drinking are bad for the body, but in addition could also significantly diminish the benefits of microneedling. Smoking causes the blood vessels to constrict, leading to poor blood circulation, whilst alcohol dehydrates the body instead of nourishing it.
- Eat unprocessed, fresh foods. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and skip over the processed foods at the supermarket. Consuming fresh fruit and vegetables will provide antioxidants and boost collagen production, whilst healthy fats from avocado and nuts provide the omega-3 fatty acids the skin needs to keep toxins at bay.
What to Put on Skin after Microneedling (And What to Avoid!)
After microneedling treatment, it is important to follow best practice aftercare:
- Use a gentle cleanser. When using a microneedling pen, cleanliness is essential! Cleanse the skin frequently using a soothing cleanser (free from any harsh chemicals) and/or thermal water.
- Wear SPF 50+ sunblock. The skin will be more sensitive after using a microneedling pen, so be sure to choose a good quality sunblock to protect the skin from harmful UV rays.
- Apply collagen-stimulating peptides. Help the body produce more collagen by applying collagen-stimulating peptides. This serves to maximise the effects of the stimulation already started during the microneedling treatment.
Certain skincare products should be avoided right after microneedling, particularly exfoliants such as acids (AHAs or BHAs) or scented products. This will be crucial for the first two to three days post-treatment, when the skin will still be at its most sensitive.
Retinol after Microneedling
It is strongly advised that Retinol A, along with vitamin C serum, is avoided for at least the initial 48 hours after using a microneedling pen. Some microneedling pens even recommend waiting from seven to ten days before resuming the use of retinols.
How to Use Microneedling Pens at Home
As is true of any skin care treatment, precautions must always be taken to eliminate undue risks and ensure the best results. If entirely new to the concept of microneedling and how to safely use a microneedling pen, here are a few steps to follow:
- Disinfect. Before even picking up a microneedling pen, make sure that any tools and surrounding areas have been thoroughly disinfected using 70% isopropyl alcohol, to prevent live bacteria from being injected into the skin and causing an infection.
- Wash. Once any tools and the workspace have been sterilised, wash hands and the area being treated with a soothing cleanser, and gently pat the skin dry.
- Numb the area. Although this step is entirely optional, some might wish to apply a numbing cream to the area being treated. This will prevent feeling the pricking sensation of the needles as they penetrate the skin.
- Start microneedling. Here, it is absolutely essential to follow the instructions accompanying the microneedling pen, particularly when it comes to choosing the appropriate length of needles.
- Cleanse. After finishing the treatment, rinse the treated area once more with water only and pat the skin dry with a clean towel or cotton face cloth.
- Hydrate. If the area being treated is the face, consider applying a hyaluronic acid serum to retain moisture and prevent the skin from drying out.
- Protect the skin. Finally, make sure to keep the skin clean and germ-free after the treatment. Refrain from touching the treated area (especially if that is the face) and keep anything unsanitary from coming into contact with it.
The Microneedling Pen Kit
There are plenty of microneedling pens around, all boasting various unique features and sold at a different price. Here are some of the top derma pens now available on the market, all of which come with glowing customer reviews!
Dr. Pen Ultima A6 Microneedling Pen
The Dr. Pen Ultima A6 Microneedling Pen is certainly one of the most popular for at-home use. It is sold together with ten disposable 12-pin cartridges that have been sterilised and individually wrapped to ensure optimal safety and the highest level of hygiene. The pen itself is ergonomically fashioned to be easy to use and comes with rechargeable batteries so that it can be used cordless, as well as plugged in.
Hydra Pen H2 Professional Microneedling Pen
The Hydra Pen H2 is different from other microneedling pens as it also dispenses serum. Whilst benefitting from the more traditional microneedling treatment at home, this pen also nourishes the skin thanks to this clever little addition.
Angel Kiss A9 Microneedling Pen
The Angel Kiss Microneedling Pen is a very strong contender within the dermapen market. This microneedling pen allows users to choose between five different speed levels, offering microneedling treatment across different areas of the body. The replacement cartridges are also available in different sizes and are individually wrapped to ensure a high level of hygiene.
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