Beauty junkies are no strangers to enduring discomfort and sometimes, even pain, in the pursuit of beauty. From dealing with hot wax to extractions of stubborn clogged pores, we’ve been there and done that. Yet, we are constantly on the lookout for the next best thing that promises smoother, brighter and younger-looking skin. And while microneedling isn’t exactly a new treatment that’s trending at the moment, there are many doubts and questions surrounding it, so we’re here to clear the air.
As scary as it sounds, microneedling is said to be a great way to improve skin texture as well as boost the penetration of potent serums into your skin. But how exactly does it work? After all, it does involve needles so it’s best to get all the facts before diving straight in. Here are seven things you need to know about microneedling before trying it for yourself:
#1: How It Works
Not to be confused with acupuncture for the face, microneedling involves creating tiny puncture wounds on the skin. These “wounds” enable skincare products applied to penetrate deeper and quicker into skin layers, and at the same time, activate the skin’s natural repair mechanism to improve skin texture over time.
#2: What Tools Are Used?
Microneedling can be done using either a dermapen or a dermaroller. The former is essentially a pen-like device, with tiny spikes on one end, which when placed over the different areas of the skin, pushes down on skin surface to create these tiny wounds. On the other hand, a dermaroller looks like a painting tool, except it has spikes on the roller. All you have to do is roll the spikes over your skin to create the tiny holes.
#3: Who Is It Best Suited For?
Since the main benefits of microneedling includes stimulating better absorption of skincare products as well as retexturising skin, it is safe for most skin types. This is especially so for those with a rougher skin texture (due to acne scars or wrinkles), who will see more pronounced results. And if you have sensitive skin, it’s best to consult your doctor first.
#4: Does The Length Of Microneedles Matter?
The answer is yes. While mostly done in a doctor’s office, or by a therapist after a consultation with a doctor, microneedling can also be done at home. The reason is the difference in the length of microneedles. Ranging from 0.25mm to up to 2mm, these microneedles can puncture different layers of the skin, from the stratum corneum, which is the outermost layer of the skin all the way down to the dermis, which is the deepest layer of the skin.
Needless to say, the tools you can use at home rarely go beyond 0.5mm because any deeper and there will be bleeding. Furthermore, DIY tools do not require the application of topical anaesthesia as the prickling sensation is totally bearable. For DIY tools, their main benefits is still to improve product penetration as it creates channels across the stratum corneum of your skin, so that they can effectively reach your epidermis and beyond instead of just sitting on your skin surface.
However, when it involves doctor-administered microneedling, the needle length tends to be 1mm and these micro punctures they create reach all the way to the dermis – the actual site of cellular regeneration and collagen production to stimulate collagen. As previously mentioned, there will be some spotting of blood, and the procedure has to be done in a clean and sterile environment. The level of discomfort and pain to be expected is also higher, which explains the use of topical anaesthesia.
#5: How Do I Maintain My Microneedling Tool?
First of all, it’s best to use it only on cleansed and dry skin as this helps inhibit the growth of bacteria. Next, you should store it in a dry and cool place. After each use, it is also very important to make sure you clean and preferably sterilise it with alcohol spray. And make sure to check with the manufacturer about how often you should be replacing it. This is because the tiny spikes get blunt over time, so not only will it hurt more, the micro trauma they inflict on your skin becomes not-so-micro as well.
#6: What Can I Expect From DIY Tools?
First of all, there is virtually no pain, just a prickling sensation. This is because you are not expected to press the device down firmly against your skin, but instead, you just need to gently guide the roller across your skin. You might experience some redness which should disappear after a few hours or a day at most. But most importantly, you will notice that your skin drinks up any skincare products you apply much better. And for some, you might notice that pores are less pronounced though it’s unlikely that DIY microneedling will improve acne scars significantly as it doesn’t penetrate beyond the epidermis.
#7: Does It Work Well With All Skincare Products?
Since microneedling does cause tiny trauma to the skin, it’s best to avoid ingredients that have the potential of furthering that irritation. For example, avoid ingredients that are responsible for dissolving dead skin cells. This means that you should stay away from glycolic acid, lactic acid and pretty much any BHA and PHA. To err on the safe side, you should also avoid vitamin C and retinol as these can cause irritation in some cases.
Instead, reach for skincare products that contain repairing ingredients including hyaluronic acid, peptides, growth factors, ceramides and lipids. This is because such ingredients really support skin’s repairing process when absorbed into the skin, making the most of the improved product penetration that microneedling brings about.
Here are some of the microneedling devices you can use at home to improve your skin texture.
Words: Joyce Cheo; images: Shutterstock, Pexels.