microneedling guide

Things I don’t understand:

  • Why Britain still uses separate cold and water faucets
  • Why Beyonce lost Album Of The Year to Adele
  • Why people poke their faces with needles in the name of beauty

It’s called micro-needling and it’s done with a torture device with lots and lots of needles. It’s the kind of thing that should have you running in the opposite direction as fast as your legs can carry you.

It certainly has that effect on me. But then, when I was little and had to have blood tests done, they had to call 4 people just to pin me down (not something I’m particularly proud of). Needles and I just don’t get along.

So, no, this is something I’m NEVER going to try. Willingly, anyway. But, lots of you are crazy enough to want to give this form of torture… erm I meant micro-needling, a go.

So, after the 100th email about it, I did the next best thing to trying it myself (because I’m sane and a HUGE wimp) and took a look at what the science says.

So, is the torture micro-needling worth it?

What Is Micro-Needling?

Micro-needling is a treatment that involves rolling a device with lots of tiny needles attached to it over your skin to create holes in it. 

Read that again. You’re creating HOLES in your skin. I’m outta here.

Ok, I’ll stay a bit more and finish the lecture. Just cos you’re awesome. 🙂

So, where were we? Oh yes, micro-needling uses devices with needles. There are several types out there:

Dermarollers: These are small devices with a round, rotating cylinder that has at least 200 teeny tiny needles protruding from it. You grab the handle and roll it all over your face to puncture it.

Dermapens: Like you’ve probably guessed, my beautiful smart friend, these look like pens. But rather than ink, they have lots of tiny needles on their heads. They’re powered by a motor that moves in and out of the skin in a stamping motion, leaving holes everywhere.

Dermastamps: Like Dermapens, but larger. And with more needles. My worst nightmare, basically. They can have a motor, like Dermapens, or not, like Dermarollers. Either way, it rolls all over your face, creating small holes in your skin.

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What Are The Benefits Of Micro-Needling?

Why do women think it’s a good idea to create holes in their skin? Are they all crazy?

Nope. Turns out, there are some good reasons to do it.

1. Micro-Needling Boosts Collagen Production

Micro-needling is a form of Percutaneous Collagen Induction Therapy (or CIT). Basically, you trick your skin into going into repair mode. Here’s how it works.

When you poke your skin with needles, your skin becomes inflamed and triggers a complex series of chemical reactions to heal.

This process releases growth factors that promote the deposition of normal woven collagen rather than damaged scar collagen.

Of course, all this takes a while. It usually takes 6 weeks to produce new and healthy collagen and elastin. When it finally does, your skin becomes firmer and more elastic.

2. Micro-Needling Heals Scars

What have wrinkles, scars and stretch marks in common?

A lack of collagen. By boosting its production, micro-needling can help scars heal faster. 

Rumour has it, it can treat stretch marks, too. The theory makes sense but I’m still waiting for a study that confirms it.

3. Micro-Needling Enhances Penetration Of Skincare Products

Chemophobes love to repeat that skin absorbs up to 60% of what you put on it, but that’s nonsense. Skin’s job is to keep stuff out of the body and it does a damn good job at it. Why the heck do you think that aren’t more medicines that come in cream form?

But, if you create tiny holes in your skin, your skincare products now have hundreds of little doors to let them in. If they get in, they can do their job better.

For example, this study shows that using a skin-lightening serum with micro-needling reduces dark spots faster than if you were using the serum alone.

But, and there are a lot of buts here:

  • If you enhance penetration of retinol and vitamin C, you make them more irritating.
  • Even ingredients that are better left on top of your skin (like preservatives) get through
  • Some products, like sunscreen, need to stay ON TOP of your skin to work.
  • If skincare products can get in, germs can too.


Dermapens and Dermastamps are proven to produce these results. The jury’s still out there on whether Dermarollers work as well.

Related: Does Your Skin Really Absorbs 60% Of What You Put On It?

What Can’t Micro-Needling Do?

Treat cellulite.

That dimply cottage cheese happens when fat deposits form under your connective tissues push through your collagen fibers.

Micro-needling devices can’t penetrate the skin so deeply to reach them. And if they can’t do that, how can they work?

Related: Get Over It, Cellulite Is Normal

Does The Size Of The Needle Matter?

You betcha!

Micro-needling works only when the needles are at least 1.5mm and their diameter 0.25mm. Anything smaller can’t penetrate the skin, so it won’t work.

Chances are, your doctor has the right size. But those at-home torture devices? They’re too small. Don’t bother. Your wallet won’t like it, but this is a treatment better done at the doctor’s office.

P.S. The needles don’t reach the nerve endings and capillaries, so you shouldn’t feel pain or lose blood. But your doctor will likely use a numbing cream anyway before going in with the needles.

Does Micro-Needling Have Any Side Effects?

Yeah! Didn’t you get the part where I mentioned you’re wounding your skin? On PURPOSE?

Every now and then, it may help you promote collagen and all that jazz, but if you do it a bit too often, you’re just playing with fire. Wound your skin today, wound it tomorrow, in the end you will cause some real damage.

The Bottom Line

Turns out, there are good reasons to poke your skin with needles: it firms your skin, heals your scars, and helps you lighten your dark spots faster. But, don’t DIY! Go to your doctor or you may do your skin more harm than good.