Here's How to Safely Dermaroll at Home, According to Skin Experts

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The debate over whether dermarolling at home is safe or not has long been discussed by beauty-lovers and dermatologists alike. Dermarolling, the practice of using a handheld roller covered in tiny needles (usually 0.3 millimeters or smaller) to create micropunctures in your face, helps skin-care products penetrate deeper and, as such, makes them more effective by promoting increased product absorption. The main benefits of dermarolling, when done right, can be seen as soon as a month after the initial use, and include minimizing the appearance of fine lines, improving skin texture, and promoting cell regeneration, to name a few.

The terms "dermarolling" and "microneedling" are often used interchangeably since the procedures are relatively similar, but the key difference is that dermarolling is a form of microneedling. "The principle of how they work is the same," Wendy Roberts, MD, a dermatologist at Rancho Mirage in California, told POPSUGAR. "They both have needles which puncture the skin creating holes."

How they differ is that dermarollers can be used at home, not just in a dermatologist's office, because of the smaller needle size. This technique only lightly punctures the outer layer of the skin known as the epidermis. Microneedling, on the other hand, uses vibrations along with needles that are usually larger (0.25 to 3 millimeters) than needles found on a dermaroller. These in-office procedures need to be done by trained professionals because the needles go deeper into the skin. The purpose of microneedling is to gently wound the skin, tricking it into thinking that it needs to promote more collagen and elastin to fix the injury, thus making skin healthier and plumper. Dermarolling helps with product absorption and can promote collagen, just not to the same degree that in-office treatments can. Here's what you need to know about safely dermarolling at home to get a better understanding of how to use the tool.

How to Prep Before Dermarolling

"The only dermaroller devices that should be utilized at home are ones that can be cleaned with every single use or have disposable tips that are tossed after every single use," Rita Linkner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Spring Street Dermatology, told POPSUGAR. "The purpose of dermarolling is to penetrate to a depth in the skin where collagen is born, which is why sterility of these devices is tantamount in preventing infection."

It's recommended to use isopropyl alcohol before and after the treatment to thoroughly sterilize the needles. Because dermarollers have sharp needles, they have the ability to harm and damage the skin if they are not properly cleaned and carefully used. Once the tool is clean, wash your face with a gentle cleanser and let it dry.

Before you start dermarolling, section off your face into four different sections — forehead, cheeks, chin, and neck — and plan to roll for a total of two minutes.

How to Use a Dermaroller

Then the dermarolling can begin. Dr. Linkner's main piece of advice when it comes to dermarolling is that less is more. "Do not apply too much pressure, and trying to be even in your technique is ideal," she told POPSUGAR. Think back to the sections you marked off on your face. Roll in every direction, going vertical, horizontal, then diagonal, in each section for about 30 seconds.

What to Do After Dermarolling

Once you're done rolling, apply your serum and moisturizer. According to Dr. Linkner, dermarolling should be used in conjunction with a properly curated skin-care routine to help to enhance its full effects. Using products that target your main skin-care concerns is wise, as the products will be more absorbent.

Dr. Roberts suggests using vitamin C, ferulic acid, and alastin after treatments, while Dr. Linkner advises patients who are acne prone to use a retinol after dermarolling as it can help clear skin up. Be careful of using a potent serum or products that contain salicylic, lactic, and glycolic acids after dermarolling because they can cause irritation since skin will be more sensitive.

Overall, dermarolling at home is safe if you are careful and cautious. "If you follow home-care directions and are gentle and easy on your skin with a basic device it should not be harmful," Dr. Roberts said. Making sure to properly clean the device is vital, as well as being aware of when to toss out your dermaroller and get a new one. (This is usually noted on the package, as each dermaroller is different.) If you're interested in safely dermarolling at home, read ahead to shop Dr. Linkner's and Dr. Roberts's favorite tools, and get ready for your skin to glow from the inside out.

Rodan + Fields Amp MD System

Rodan + Fields Amp MD System

Dr. Linkner's go-to product is the Rodan + Fields Amp MD System ($227). This set comes with a cleaning system that keeps the dermaroller's needles sterile. It also includes an intensive serum which is a great over-the-counter product because it's effective while also being gentle on skin.

Dermaroller System With Collagen Cream

Dermaroller System With Collagen Cream

As for Dr. Roberts, she suggests trying out the Dermaroller System With Collagen Cream ($90, originally $170). It comes with a dermaroller, collagen cream, and even a collagen face mask.