Dermaroller Basics: What to Know Before You Roll
The latest at-home skincare trend seems pretty extreme: rolling a device that looks like a paint-roller brush full of needles over your face. But this device, a dermaroller, just may improve your acne scars and fill in your fine lines.
It has a bit of a learning curve, though. So before you take your first pass, check out our dermaroller basics.
How It Works
Dermarolling is a form of microneedling, a treatment that relies on tiny needles to create purposeful punctures in the skin. The body rushes to heal these superficial wounds, creating more collagen and elastin in the process. More collagen and elastin means smoother, younger looking skin with reduced fine lines. Microneedling seems to be particularly effective on acne scars.
Microneedling is typically done in a med-spa or dermatology setting, but lately, more and more people are buying less expensive dermarollers to use at home.
How to Use a Dermaroller
1. Disinfect it.
Put the dermaroller in isopropyl alcohol 70% for at least 20 minutes to disinfect it. Do this before and after each rolling session.
2. Prep yourself.
Wash your face and hands thoroughly.
3. Roll it up and down.
Remove the roller from the alcohol and shake it dry. Be careful not to touch it against anything.
Press the roller into your cheek and roll up and down in a vertical line. Pick up the roller, then roll another vertical line next to the first one. Do this across your entire cheek.
Every time you move to a new spot on your cheek, pick up the roller from your face. This prevents the roller from being dragged across the skin and creating tears.
4. Roll it across and diagonally.
Start at the top of your freshly rolled cheek and roll again, this time moving back and forth in horizontal lines down to your jawline. Finish by moving in diagonal lines from your ear lobe to your chin. Again, pick up the roller each time you move to a new spot.
5. Repeat across your face.
Repeat the vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines across your other cheek, your forehead, and your chin until your entire face has been needled. Switch to a roller head with smaller needles to treat the more delicate areas around your eyes.
6: Apply a serum.
The serum should not only help soothe the face, but also penetrate into the skin via the microholes. Potential options include:
- Vitamin C or retinol serum for fine lines and pigmentation. Avoid if you have sensitive skin.
- Hyaluronic acid serum for fine lines and dryness
- Niacinamide serum for acne and oiliness
- Snail mucin/secretion for inflammation, fine lines, and discoloration
Choosing the right needle length is important if you want to see results. Needles shorter than 0.5 mm won't penetrate deep enough into the skin to encourage collagen and elastin production. Needles longer than 1.5 mm shouldn't be used at home, especially not on the face.
0.5 mm – 1 mm
|Shallow Acne Scars||
|Deep Acne Scars||
|Uneven Skin Tone||
0.5 mm – 1 mm
Dermarolling the Body
Try using the dermaroller on stretch marks on the thighs or flanks as it can help fade them. This works best for newer stretch marks as older, silvery-looking stretch marks will likely require stronger laser treatments. A roller can also be used to help fade surgical scars from C-sections and other past procedures.
How often can you dermaroll?
It depends on how well your skin tolerates it. The key is to start off slow and work your way up, but these guidelines can help:
- 0.5 mm needles = 1–3 times per week
- 1.0 mm needles = every two weeks
- 1.5 mm needles = every 3–4 weeks
Who shouldn't use a dermaroller?
If you have one of these conditions, you should avoid dermarollers:
- Open acne or inflamed skin
You should also avoid using a roller if you won't take the time to disinfect it. Rolling without disinfecting can introduce bacteria into the skin and result in skin damage and even scarring.
A physician's assistant explains how in-office microneedling, AKA collagen-induction therapy, can really help your skin.
Learn about the ingredient that can soothe skin after rolling.