If you thought getting rid of your acne was the only hurdle you had to jump in order to get clear skin, I have some bad news for you: it’s not.
The scarring left behind from acne can look almost as bad as the acne itself. And, when your acne scarring is deep and super pigmented like mine is, chances are that topical treatments alone won’t be enough to fade the scarring completely.
That’s where microneedling enters the picture.
I was first introduced to the idea of microneedling by a friend of mine who had struggled with some temporary problems with acne and had used microneedling to fade her scarring. At the time, I couldn’t give needling a try because I was still actively breaking out all over my face.
Once I was able to stop my breakouts, however, I was excited to give needling a try.
At the time I’m writing this post, I’ve been microneedling for approximately one and a half months — about five to six weeks. The results have been very encouraging so far, and I’m excited to see how much more microneedling can do for my acne scarring in the future.
Here are a few quick pics to give you an idea of my acne scarring progress so far:
If you want to learn about how I’ve been microneedling, why I bother doing it, and what the reported benefits of it are, just keep reading.
What is Microneedling?
Microneedling is also known as collagen induction therapy or skin needling. Essentially, you use a special kind of tool to carefully and systematically punch tons of holes into your skin with a bunch of teeny-tiny, barely visible needles.
Microneedling sounds kind of scary the first time you hear about it. Needles?? How can needles possibly help your skin and not in an awful, painful way??
Actually, microneedling barely hurts at all when you’re doing it at home. (I’ve also been microneedled by a professional and, I will say, that experience is a bit rougher than when you’re microneedling at home.)
There are two general kinds of microneedling tools you can use when needling yourself at home:
- a microneedling roller, also often called a dermaroller
- a microneedling pen, also called dermapen
Both tools have the potential to more-or-less achieve the same results, but there are a few factors to consider when deciding if you want to use one over the other.
Before using any kind of microneedling product though, be sure you are working in a clean, disinfected area, and that your equipment has been sanitized for at least five minutes prior to starting your needling session. (I soak my needling roller in a small container of isopropyl alcohol both before and after each needling session to remove germs and bacteria.)
You skin should also be freshly cleaned, without any kind of moisturizer or product on it.
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How to Use a Microneedling Pen
If you want to start microneedling to treat severely scarred skin, but are still experiencing regular, active breakouts, you’ll need to use a microneedling pen rather than a microneedling roller.
This is because you should NEVER microneedle over top of active acne. This could not only cause the bacteria in the active acne to spread, causing more breakouts, but you could also damage the already sore and sensitive skin.
When using a microneedling pen at home, you’ll basically use the pen as a stamp, and gently press the pen’s tip/needles into your skin, avoiding any areas with active acne.
For each area where you can use the microneedling pen, stamp along the affected area in one direction (vertically or horizontally, most likely). Make 4-5 passes over the same area, being sure to carefully pick the stamp tip completely up off of your skin each time you move it.
Dragging the samp across your skin if you’re trying to move too quickly can result in scratching and more scarring, and I know you don’t want that!
Move in the same direction across your face, in as many areas as you can without touching your active acne. Then, switch to the other direction (horizontally instead of vertically, or vice versa), repeating the same process by making 4-5 passes over each area.
When you’re completely done microneedling, pat some kind of soothing and/or moisturizing oil onto your skin.
When I had my skin professionally microneedled, they simply used hyaluronic acid afterwards. Hyaluronic acid is easily purchased online or in some stores — just make sure you’re buying from a quality brand and this will be a great choice for a post-needling oil.
Personally, I also really like to use my Ordinary rosehip oil, too.
How to Use a Microneedling Roller
If you’ve pretty much cured your acne and have few to no active breakouts on your skin, a dermaroller is likely a good choice for you. This is because dermarollers, compared to microneedling pens, cover a wider surface area so it will take you less time to microneedle your skin with this approach.
However, as with the dermapen, you’ll have to avoid any areas where you have active breakouts, as this can spread the bacteria and damage the skin.
After you’ve cleaned your skin, microneedling roller, and your working area, start off by gently and slowly rolling the dermaroller across your skin in one direction. NEVER roll back and forth! Instead, only move the roller in one direction, picking it up and starting from the beginning on each pass you make.
Roll in the same direction (vertically or horizontally), making 4-5 passes over each area. After you’ve done your whole face moving one direction, switch to the other (horizontally instead of vertically, etc.). Again, make 4-5 passes over each area.
When you’re done, apply a hyaluronic acid or similarly moisturizing and soothing oil to your skin.
Make sure you disinfect your dermaroller again before putting it away.
After doing any kind of microneedling treatment, you need to stay out of the sun for the rest of the day. Because of this, I generally prefer to do my needling an hour or two before bed.
What Does Microneedling Do to Your Face?
Of course, before you decide to start microneedling at home yourself, you probably want to know why exactly this works. What is it about jabbing yourself with hundreds of tiny needles that makes your skin look better?
Well, basically, microneedling works by stimulating the collagen cells under your skin:
“By making tiny columns of trauma in the dermis, the body is forced to make new collagen to fill them in and heal them,” explained Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse in an article for Healthline.
If you have acne scarring, this translates to faded, smoother scars over time.
However, because this collagen-stimulating process both improves skin tone and can make the skin slightly tighter, microneedling has become a popular anti-aging treatment as well.
According to Shainhouse, “Because the sun breaks down collagen, and our skin naturally makes less collagen as we age, any intervention that encourages increased collagen synthesis can make skin look and act younger.”
So, for those of us suffering from acne scarring, microneedling might have multiple benefits: not only can it fade scarring, but it has the potential to keep your skin looking younger, longer.
How Many Times Do You Need to Do Microneedling?
Like most acne-related answers, there’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation here. The number of microneedling sessions you’ll need to do depends on a variety of factors, including:
- the severity of your acne scarring
- the sensitivity of your skin
- the amount of time between needling sessions
- the length of needles being used
- the kinds of aftercare products you use
- how well you’re able to control future breakouts
When going to a dermatologist or other skincare professional for microneedling sessions, it generally takes three to six sessions for customers to see the results they want.
For those of us who want to do microneedling at home, you’ll likely have to do significantly more sessions to completely clear up your scarring.
This is because professionals are able to use longer microneedling needles than those available for at-home purchase. With each successive treatment, your dermatologist is able to use longer needles, which does more to stimulate your skin’s collagen production.
When microneedling at home, however, you’re options for needle size are relatively limited, with options ranging from .25 mm-long needles to 1.5 mm-long needles.
Professionally, your dermatologist can likely go up to 2.0 mm-long needles, or possibly higher, which does a better job of encouraging collagen production.
However, the plus side of needling at home is considerably less pain and a one-time cost for multiple treatments.
The microneedling roller I started with and still use right now has .5 mm-long needles. I’ve found that this has been great for my progress so far, and I like that this still leaves me some room to go up in terms of needles size.
How Long Does It Take to See Results From Microneedling?
Depending on how often you microneedle, you can expect to see the first noticeable results in one to two months. The changes will likely not be dramatic and they won’t happen quickly, but very slowly you’ll start to see your scars fade ever so slightly and your deep scars may start to look a little less deep.
And, in terms of exactly how often you do your microneedling, I would recommend not doing it more than once per week, or once every two weeks if you find it painful for have very sensitive skin.
You need to make sure you’re giving your skin enough time to heal between each needling session, or you’re not going to benefit from needling, anyway. So, when in doubt, better to be safe than sorry.
The first few times I did microneedling at home, I waited two weeks between each session. Then I moved to once every week. This was all using my .5 mm-needle roller, so the next step for me will likely be to move up to a 1.00 mm roller.
No matter what size needle roller you’re using though, one hard and fast rule to follow is to NEVER microneedle your face if you still have redness or sensitivity from your previous treatment.
In most cases, the redness will have faded by the next morning but, even so, this rule is one to keep in mind.
How Much Does It Cost for Microneedling?
Above, I alluded to the fact that microneedling at home is cheaper, since you only have to pay one time for multiple at-home treatments. But just how does the cost of microneedling at home break down compared to getting a professional microneedling treatment? Let’s see…
To get a professional microneedling treatment costs anywhere from $200 to $700 per treatment session. Say you need the full six sessions to see results; that means you’ll be spending between somewhere between $1,200 and $4,200 for your microneedling treatments.
In comparison, at-home microneedling rollers and kits come in a variety of affordable ranges. I bought a Banish microneedling kit for $49.50 by signing up for recurring orders every two months. (This ensures that you’re always rolling with a clean and top quality roller, limiting any risk for infection or negative side effects.)
While the number of times you’ll need to do at-home microneedling sessions is harder to estimate, I find this option a little easier to manage because the price is so much more cost-effective. Plus, if I ever really want to spend some extra money to fade the rest of my scarring, I could probably just pay for one or two professional treatments instead of the full six.
So, basically, that’s everything I know and have learned about microneedling at home. Personally, I’ve found it to be really helpful in fading my acne scars, and I’ll continue to needle at home for the foreseeable future.
What about you? Have your tried microneedling or ever thought about it? Do you have a specific kind of roller you like to use? Tell me about it in the comments below.