All About Microneedling

Part 1:

Cosmetic Needling

Let’s start with the basics first. There are two different popular types of microneedling floating around in the beauty world right now. The first is cosmetic needling which involves using a handheld tool covered in tiny needles over your own skin at home. I’m sure you’ve seen influencers holding them up on Instagram (more on that later). The second is medical microneedling which is performed in a  doctor’s office or in a medical spa setting. Now, I’ll tackle some of your questions on both beginning with cosmetic needling.

What are these needle contraptions I keep seeing on Instagram?

What you are probably seeing is called a cosmetic roller. Ideally these tools have tiny needles no longer than .2mm and no shorter than .1mm. These tools are designed to be used over clean, dry skin before applying topical, high quality, bioavailable active ingredients such as vitamins A&C, antioxidants and a variety of peptides.

Does cosmetic needling hurt?

Absolutely not and it never should. Cosmetic needling should feel gentle and pleasant. It has been described by one of my favorite practitioners Franck Joly to feel “like a cat’s tongue licking your face”.

Why would I use a cosmetic roller at home?

Here’s where I’ll begin getting a bit scientific with you. The healthier your skin is or becomes the stronger and more effective your skin’s outer barrier will be. This is a good thing! Healthy skin is supposed to keep pathogens and bacteria OUT. Now, on the flip side when it comes to applying topical skincare products containing skin fortifying ingredients it can be next to impossible to deliver them through the outermost layer of the skin down into the epidermis where they are designed to work. These ingredients will basically sit on top of your skin and maybe if you are lucky a very small percentage of molecules will penetrate through your stratum corneum – that’s the outer layer of the skin I touched on before. By using a cosmetic roller with extremely thin needles of .1mm or .2mm you are able to *gently* break down the stratum corneum creating tiny micro-channels which will allow 100x more of your active ingredients to penetrate into the epidermis. Now, if you are spending $$$ on high quality result-oriented skincare don’t you want those ingredients inside your skin doing their job vs. sitting on top oxidizing and wasting away? Something else to note is that the stratum corneum (also called the horny layer) of the skin is a dead layer of skin and contains no nerve endings or blood vessels. This is why rolling your skin at home feels so comfortable and when done properly carries no negative side effects. If you stick to .1mm to .2mm needles you will never penetrate past the stratum corneum making this a very safe and easy treatment to perform at home.

How do I clean my cosmetic roller?

It is essential to clean your tool after each use and to disinfect your cosmetic roller weekly to prevent the spread of bacteria. I personally rinse my roller with hot water after each use then allow it to air dry overnight. I soak it once each week using a disinfectant fluid made specifically for my roller. Each company should provide a disinfectant formula for their tool. For example, I use the Environ Gold Roller (my personal favorite) and use their disinfectant fluid which I soak my tool in for 10 minutes once per week. By taking proper care of your roller you will have it for years.

Where should I buy a cosmetic roller?

This is very important. Nowadays, you can have a cosmetic roller shipped to you off the internet for as low as $20. I beg you to beware of many of the cheaply made cosmetic rollers being sold on the market right now. First of all I want to remind you that you do NOT want to purchase a roller with needles shorter than .1mm or longer than .2mm. The reason for this is that at .1 to .2mm you will be safely rolling into the stratum corneum – no deeper. This prevents injury to the skin. The purpose of cosmetic rolling is to enhance the penetration of topical active ingredients – THAT’S IT. If the needles on your roller are too long they will not only feel uncomfortable which should never be the case, but they can puncture down into a layer of your skin beneath the stratum corneum called the stratum granulosum and cause what’s known as transepidermal water loss or TEWL. Basically you will be disrupting your skin’s moisture balance by creating channels deep enough for skin’s natural moisture to escape, evaporate and leave your skin feeling dry. If you find your skin feels dry the day after using a cosmetic roller – it means you rolled too deeply. Longer needles are not better needles. Ideally your needles should also be surgical grade stainless steel so that they are easy to disinfect and will cause no allergic reaction when coming in contact with the skin. In my Rollingwood skincare studio I choose to carry the Environ rollers because a.) they are currently the only FDA approved cosmetic roller for sale in the USA, b.) the needles are hand made which allows them to be crafted ultra-thin, and, c.) Environ’s founder Dr. Des Fernandes (the ultimate perfectionist)  pioneered the use of cosmetic, medical and surgical needling in skincare, so who more expert than him to design and manufacture the perfect roller.

How often should I use my cosmetic roller?

Ideally, one would roll for about 5 minutes every night after cleansing the skin before applying your serums and creams. Now, if your skin is sensitive you may want to start out rolling 3x per week and work up to rolling every night. And on the topic of skin sensitivity – cosmetic rolling is a technique to be used on skin with a healthy barrier. Remember how I mentioned earlier that this technique is a way to help your topical skincare penetrate through a strong, healthy stratum corneum? If you are someone with a compromised skin barrier who experiences a lot of topical sensitivity or acne then your skin is not healthy enough to begin a rolling regimen just yet. First, you need to focus on healing and strengthening your skin. Work with a skincare professional to heal your skin’s barrier and improve its overall health then and only then should you begin using a cosmetic roller. When your skin’s barrier function is compromised you do not need the assistance of a roller creating micro-channels to aid in penetrating active ingredients. Your barrier is too deficient to need that extra help. The products alone will work just fine until your skin becomes stronger.

Can I use my cosmetic roller in the morning?

Cosmetic rolling should be done in the evening since you will not be applying sunscreen or makeup on top of your skincare at that time. You never want to create micro channels to enhance product penetration then immediately use sunscreens or any makeup products. These formulas are not designed to work below the surface of your skin and could consequently clog your skin if used directly after needling.

Have any questions about at-home cosmetic needling? Reach out to Jaime! And stay tuned for Part 2 of this post where she will break down Medical Microneedling.

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