Step 2: Separate your face into four quadrants and roll each side for 15 seconds.
I accidentally started without reading the directions (old habits die hard), but the good news? It’s pretty foolproof. Unlike devices that work on a timer, the microneedle roller turns on and off the old-fashioned way—with a button. So I had no idea how long I was rolling it around certain sections of my face and still didn’t experience any redness or irritation. (I now know that you’re supposed to roll each area for 15 seconds.) I began with my chin, moved up to either cheek, and finished with my forehead. You’re supposed to roll over each area in a pattern. “Go over the area in an asterisk: up and down, side to side, diagonally left up to right, and diagonally right up to left,” says Engelman.
Step 3: Apply your face serums.
The microneedling itself was fine: You can feel pricks, but it wasn’t painful. Then, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I topped it with some exfoliating glycolic acid. Reader, it hurt. This is how I came to learn that experts recommend staying away from any kind of chemical exfoliants (like glycolic and lactic acids) and brightening ingredients like vitamin C due to the fact that they can increase your chances of irritation. Also off the menu? Retinol, since it can be harsh on your skin.
Fortunately, the tingling subsided pretty quickly, and I followed up with my usual antioxidant serum and lightweight moisturizer. Other ingredients derms say are great for post-dermarolling include EGFs (or epidermal growth factors, which help with cell regeneration), peptides (which help build collagen and elastin), and hyaluronic acid (which boosts hydration). The next morning I awoke to find that the dark spots on one cheek looked diffused—and while it seems counterintuitive, some redness had dissipated from my problem areas. My skin looked a little calmer and noticeably brighter.
Step 4: Clean your dermaroller.
It’s worth noting that microneedling tools come with some risk. “The at-home microneedling devices are difficult to clean, and they dull quickly,” says Levin. “There is a higher risk of infection, discoloration, and injury to your skin.” Engelman agrees: “Piercing your skin by any means creates an open channel, thereby increasing your chances of getting an infection. As with all procedures, make sure to use sterile tools if you’re doing it at home.” (She’s a fan of Environ Cosmetic Gold Roll-CIT, which has a coating of naturally bacteria-resistant gold.)
BeautyBio also does its due diligence by packing an empty spray bottle with the roller, which you can then fill with a DIY sanitizer. “We recommend spritzing the microneedles with isopropyl alcohol—70% or higher—after each use to completely sanitize and sterilize the needles, and letting it air-dry,” O’Banion says. Other brands, like Georgia Louise, have recently come out with microneedling devices that use plastic darts, which you can pop out and replace after every use. (Bonus: This kit also comes with facialist George Louise Atler’s famed EGF serum, which both Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett swear by, and have you seen their skin?)
As long as you can manage your expectations and use the device prudently (pros say to start at once a week, then build up to twice weekly), microneedling at home seems to be a worthwhile option if you’re not ready for the real, in-office thing. I’ll keep it up since I noticed a difference—so as it turned out, no pain, some gain.
Deanna Pai is a writer in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @deannapai.
This article was syndicated from glamour.com