The Buzz on At-Home Microneedling Kits: 8 Top-Rated Devices
I have sensitive skin, which although I’m a beauty writer limits me in my explorations. For example, even though I’ve tried fillers, Sculptra and Thermage, I can’t do Retin-A or any acid other than the gentlest lactic one. Dermabrasion is another treatment that’s out of the question for me.
As I get older, what I’m most interested in is building up collagen. At-home microneedling devices — of which there are hundreds of models on the market — promise just that, and much more. Beauty experts are even claiming that “dermarolling” is the single most powerful way to prevent new lines and wrinkles from forming.
But do these strange, somewhat scary looking contraptions live up to their claims? It’s a prickly question that I set out to answer.
What is Microneedling?
To summarize, microneedling is performed by rubbing a device covered with hundreds of tiny needles over the skin, thus causing small wounds in the outermost layers of the dermis. These microchannels stimulate the body to produce collagen, the protein that gives the skin its elasticity, and also allow serums and other topical products to be better absorbed.
The concept fascinates me, but my feeling before I started researching this article was that the rewards aren’t worth the risk.
New-York-City-based cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Marina Peredo agrees.
“I don’t think they work well,” says Dr. Peredo. “To be honest, I don’t think people should use them. I’ve actually had patients come in with injuries, scars and indentations from using the devices incorrectly or too aggressively.”
Yet while Dr. Peredo is wary of cheap, at-home microneedling devices, she does see benefits in the treatment when it’s performed by experts. At her busy practice in Upper East Side Manhattan, she often combines platelet-rich plasma facials — also known as vampire facials — with microneedling to promote healing and help the growth factors penetrate deeper into the skin.
“We mainly do microneedling on younger patients who are interested in less invasive procedures to address acne scarring. It helps smooth the skin’s texture, while reducing the appearance of large pores,” says Dr. Peredo.
The key difference between a do-it-yourself microneedling kit and the medical grade devices that professionals use: home devices are not as invasive, and have much smaller needles than those used in a dermatologist or plastic surgeon’s office.
If you still want to try it, Dr. Peredo says to think of it as a substitution for a facial. “Your expectation should be to end up with a nice glow. If you are hoping to smooth your skin tone or get rid of acne scarring, you will most probably be disappointed.”
Dr. Peredo’s recommendations for at-home use:
- Make sure you are using disposable needles.
- Sterilize your device with rubbing alcohol before storing it in its case. If you can’t keep the device clean, toss it and get a new one.
- If you suffer from cold sores, makes sure you medicate properly.
- If you have skin lesions, don’t use an at-home device.
- Before buying a device, check consumer reports to see if it got bad reviews.
- If it gets invasive, stop. Most at-home devices should not draw blood, which can cause scarring.
Reviews: What Real Users Have to Say
I asked two writer friends to share their experiences using at-home microneedling rollers.
California-based Amanda Kass has sensitive skin and uses the GloPro (reviewed below).
“I think it works really well and I like it a lot,” she says. “Actually, the plastic surgeon I go to recommended I try it. It feels like a rough exfoliation, but it doesn’t pinch or prick my skin. I use it a few days a week to increase collagen, and I think it really does.”
New York freelance journalist Lilly Dancyger uses the Healthy Care Derma Roller (also reviewed below) to erase fine lines, but hasn’t seen results yet. “I’ve been doing it every couple of weeks for the past few months, but to be honest I can’t really tell if it’s made a difference.”
Dancyger says the logic behind the device seems sound, so she won’t give up just yet. “One thing that makes it difficult is that I’ve found you can’t really wear makeup for 24 hours afterward, or it stings. So I only do it when I don’t have to leave the house the next day.” She seconds Kass’ opinion that it feels like using a very abrasive scrub.
But Is It Safe?
When microneedling isn’t done right, there’s a real risk that it may cause skin damage. In this video, aesthetician Kerry Benjamin of Stacked Skincare in Los Angeles explains the proper technique.
According to Benjamin, you should apply serum 3-5 times a week, then roll vertically, horizontally, and diagonally over your face for no more than two minutes. On her website she advises using needle sizes of no more than .30 mm.
Microneedling At Home
Here are 8 of the most popular devices out there. With professional microneedling treatments often priced at over $250, you really can’t beat the low cost of an at-home roller. Still, use your best judgment, and keep Dr. Peredo’s advice in mind — don’t go overboard.
1) The Stacked Skincare Collagen Boosting Micro-Roller
Skincare expert and aesthetician Kerry Benjamin launched her product line in 2014 to provide an at-home variation of her custom treatments. Users love the Micro-Roller’s .20 mm needles, and say that it helps with acne scars, smoothing the complexion, and reducing large pores. One drawback is that the entire roller needs to be replaced on a monthly basis — unfortunately, you can’t just change out the needle portion.
2) Dr. Roller Derma Roller
The reviewers for this older but classic roller (similar to the MT Derma Roller) give it the best accolades. It comes with 192 sterilized steel needles and an easy-to-use ergonomic handle. Unfortunately, it can be very hard to find (currently is unavailable on Amazon).
3) Healthy Care New 540 Micro Needles Titanium Microneedle Derma Roller Needle Skin Care, 0.25 mm
You can’t beat the price. Surprisingly, Healthy Care’s roller also delivers, and has very small needles so you are less likely to damage the skin. But if you are in a rush, you might not want to wait the 3-6 weeks for shipping. Some people also prefer their rollers a bit larger (this one is very small).
4) MT Derma Roller
This budget-friendly roller comes with 192 .5 mm titanium micro-needles. The product gets great reviews, with some saying it works in the first ten sessions, and remains affordable even though it’s one of the older versions. A 540 needle version used to be available, but it’s not sold anymore. Many users prefer the smaller version, stating that it’s slimmer, more easy to handle, and is less likely to cause skin damage.
5) Rodan and Fields Redefine AMP MD System
This trusted brand delivers with an uber pricey derma roller that can firm skin, reducing lines and wrinkles with its micro-exfoliation roller technology. The Redefine Night Renewing serum is included in the system, which is an added bonus (but you are paying for it). Also, the company specifies that they use micro-exfoliating tips, which are not needles, for those who are purists. The kit comes with a clear storage case and a cleansing vial.
6) GloPRO MicroNeedling Regeneration Tool
This modern-to-the-max device has 540 needles and is a bestseller at Neiman Marcus. Unlike other rollers, it uses red LED light therapy to help with blemishes and stimulate collagen. Online reviews are laudatory: after one month of using this product, 100% of people felt it helped stimulate their natural collagen, 97% reported improvement in the skin’s firmness and youthful appearance, and 93% saw an improvement in evenness.
7) Ora Microneedle Face Roller System 0.25mm
This wins raves for both face and body. The roller has 200 titanium needles of 0.25mm. Perfect for smoothing skin texture and fading pigmentation.
8) Duchess Of Dermis Skin Roller
No other roller offers as many needle sizes as this one—20mm, .50mm, .75mm, 1.0mm, 1.5mm, and 2.0mm. The smallest size is perfect for beginners, but those who are advanced can go up to the biggest sizes. It also offers a tutorial and can be used on both the face and body.
After learning all about these at-home kits and reading the praise they get online, I’m tempted to try dermarolling myself. I’ll only use a smaller kit with 192 needles though, and stick to the less invasive .20 mm size for the lower face and around the mouth and eye area.
For those of you who still aren’t convinced, here are some final words of advice from Dr. Peredo: “If you choose to undergo a professional microneedling treatment instead, make sure you do your research, and go to a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon that is reputable, licensed, and has good reviews… This is not the time to use a Groupon.”
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