Microneedling at home? Let’s break it down: Doing microneedling yourself can feel like tackling a DIY task with just a YouTube video. This treatment gently injures the skin to start the healing process. While it can be great for your skin, doing it incorrectly or neglecting post-procedure care can cause issues like irritation and swelling. Next, we’ll show you how to do microneedling at home (like a pro) and how to prepare and care for your skin to get the best results with the least problems.
How microneedling works
Microneedling is a treatment that uses a pen-like device with fine needles to create thousands of microscopic punctures in the skin. These injuries trigger your body’s natural healing process. When your skin repairs, it makes proteins such as collagen and elastin. This makes your skin smoother, firmer, and can lessen scars, signs of aging, and large pores.
However, since we’re essentially creating small “wounds,” your skin becomes more vulnerable afterward. It’s like having tiny openings in your skin where irritants can enter. Exposing the skin to sunlight, harsh products, or bacteria can exacerbate irritation, swelling, and bruising. It can even lead to infections. These issues can get even worse if you don’t follow the best practices, skip aftercare, or use dirty tools.
- Avoid sunburn for at least two weeks before your treatment.
- Do not wax, depilate, or undergo electrolysis treatments on the areas to be microneedled in the week before your session.
- If you have facial hair, shave your skin 48-72 hours before the treatment and avoid shaving the day of your procedure.
- Avoid using rough scrubs or other products that could irritate your skin (like retinol, benzoyl peroxide, high concentrations of vitamin C, and chemical acids) for at least one week before the treatment.
- Avoid taking blood thinning agents for one week before.
- Abstain from drinking alcohol and caffeine for 48 hours before and after the microneedling procedure.
- Avoid IPL two weeks before the treatment.
- If you have used accutane (isotretinoin) within six months or have active infections, tanned or sunburned skin, avoid microneedling.
- Do not take anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen for at least one week prior to your microneedling session.
- Don’t do microneedling if you have an active breakout. The microneedling tool can spread bacteria across the face.
- Microneedling is done on clean skin, so do not put anything on the skin, such as foundation and creams, on the day of the procedure.
- Do not use tanning beds or spray tans for at least two weeks prior. This can affect the natural pigmentation of your skin.
- If possible, avoid smoking before the procedure. Smoking can reduce blood flow to the skin and delay healing.
- If you’re considering Botox or dermal fillers, these should be done either two weeks before or two weeks after microneedling.
- Pregnant or nursing women should avoid microneedling treatments.
Day of microneedling
- Cleanse thoroughly: Start with thoroughly cleansed skin. This means no foundation, lotions, sunscreens, or other products. Use a gentle, non-alcoholic cleanser to ensure your skin is clean.
- Sanitize your derma roller: Before starting, sanitize your derma roller or microneedling device with isopropyl alcohol (70% or higher)
- Test area: If it’s your first time or you’re using a new device, it’s a good idea to test a small, discreet patch of skin to see how it reacts before doing the entire face.
- Apply numbing cream (optional): If you’re concerned about pain (especially with longer needle lengths), apply a topical numbing cream. Make sure it’s fully removed before you begin microneedling.
- Maintain steady pressure: When using the derma roller, apply even and steady pressure. Don’t press too hard, but ensure the needles penetrate the skin’s surface.
- Follow a pattern: Roll in one direction (e.g., vertically) 4-5 times, then shift to another direction (e.g., horizontally).
- Avoid active ingredients: On the day of microneedling, avoid using skincare products with active ingredients like retinoids, vitamin C, or alpha hydroxy acids immediately before or after the procedure.
- Stay calm: If you’re too tense, you might apply uneven pressure or make rushed movements, so work very gently.
- Clean the device: Once finished, clean the derma roller again with isopropyl alcohol and let it air dry. Store it in its protective case.
- Avoid immediate sun exposure: After microneedling, your skin may be more sensitive to the sun. Even if you’re at home, it’s a good idea to avoid direct sun exposure immediately after the procedure.
- Cut down your skincare routine: On the day of microneedling, it’s best not to overload your skin with countless products. Limit your routine to a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen.
Immediately after the procedure
- Cool down the skin: After the procedure, the skin can feel warm and tight. Applying a cool cloth can provide relief. Avoid using ice directly on the skin.
- Restore hydration: Drink plenty of water to restore skin hydration.
- Use a cooling mask: Masks with soothing ingredients like aloe vera or chamomile can provide instant relief to the skin after the procedure.
- Apply a barrier repair cream: These usually contain ingredients like ceramides and fatty acids that can help restore the skin’s natural barrier, which might be compromised after microneedling. Apply a barrier repair cream on the day of microneedling and for the following week until your skin is fully regenerated.
- Hydration: After microneedling, apply a hyaluronic acid serum every morning for the following week to hydrate your skin. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in our skin that aids in retaining moisture and supporting healing.
- Peptide serums: At night, use peptide-based serums that support collagen production to further enhance the regenerating effects of microneedling.
- Sun protection: Even if you are indoors, make sure to apply a broad-spectrum, physical (or mineral) sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Post-microneedling, your skin becomes more sensitive and is more susceptible to UV damage.
- Avoid active ingredients: For the first 48-72 hours after the procedure, stay away from products that contain active ingredients such as retinol, alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, and vitamin C, as these can irritate the freshly treated skin.
- No foundation: Refrain from applying makeup for at least 48-72 hours post-procedure. This is important to prevent the microchannels created during the procedure from becoming clogged, which could lead to breakouts or infections.
- Avoid alcohol-based toners: These can be too drying and irritating.
- Limit sun exposure: Stay out of direct sunlight for at least 48 hours post-procedure. If you need to go outside, wear protective clothing or a hat.
- Avoid exercise: Do not engage in strenuous workouts that cause sweating for at least 24-48 hours. Sweat can introduce bacteria to the vulnerable skin and can also exacerbate inflammation and swelling.
- No swimming: Stay out of pools and oceans for at least 48 hours, as they can contain bacteria and other irritants.
- Steer clear of heat: Saunas, steam rooms, or activities that heat your body should be avoided for at least 48 hours after the procedure.
- Gentle skin cleansing: Use a mild, hydrating cleanser devoid of exfoliants, alcohol, and fragrances for the next 72 hours.
- Avoid other treatments: Don’t perform another microneedling session until your skin is fully recovered, which usually takes a few weeks.
What to expect after microneedling?
Following your microneedling procedure, your skin will resemble the redness of a sunburn, and it may feel warmer and tighter than usual. This is a normal response to the tiny “injuries” made by the needles in your skin. It’s crucial to resist the urge to touch your face, as your skin will be very sensitive at this time. To calm and hydrate the skin, apply a soothing serum with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and a reparative cream with ceramides. It’s essential to avoid direct sun exposure, and when you need to cleanse your face, use lukewarm water and avoid using harsh products.
Over the next period, you’ll likely experience some skin peeling and flaking, which is a natural part of the skin’s renewal process. During this period, your skin will have a sandpaper-like texture, which is just the dead skin cells making their way off your face. You’ll want to keep your skin hydrated with a gentle moisturizer and continue avoiding sun exposure. This is not the time for exfoliating products or abrasive scrubs. Instead, focus on sun protection, moisturizing and gentle cleansing.
By this time, the visible signs of the treatment, like redness or peeling, should be subsiding. Your skin will start to look more radiant and plump as the production of collagen is activated. However, even if the outermost layer seems healed, remember that the deeper layers of your skin are still repairing themselves, so continue to treat your skin with care.
A week post-procedure, most of the surface side effects should be gone or considerably reduced. You can now introduce your regular skincare routine back gradually. However, be gentle and monitor how your skin reacts, especially when it comes to using retinol or exfoliants.
Two weeks after your microneedling session, your skin should be fully healed on the surface. The collagen production process is in full swing, and over the next weeks to months, you’ll start to notice improvements in the texture and quality of your skin. At this point, if you’re considering another session, you can. It’s essential to give your skin this time to heal fully before undergoing another microneedling session.
How long does it take for skin to heal after microneedling?
Most people notice that their skin looks and feels like they have a mild sunburn immediately after the treatment. This redness and sensitivity generally start to subside within 24 to 48 hours, but it can take up to two weeks for the skin to fully heal after microneedling. Although redness and irritation tend to resolve within a week, the underlying regenerative processes, especially collagen production, continue for weeks to months.
How often should you do microneedling?
It’s recommended to do microneedling no more than every 4-6 weeks to allow enough time for your skin to heal and regenerate. If your skin is still red, tight, and inflamed, it means it’s not ready for microneedling.