Example of how microneedling device works on the skin.

DIY Skincare: MicroNeedling

I’m a huge proponent of Do It Yourself skincare. Not only do I care more about the way the finished product is going to look, I’m also the one assessing how painful it is and can adjust accordingly. Also, doing certain procedures yourself will save you TONS of money. One of my favorite DIY procedures is microneedling. It’s the best bang for your buck, meaning it will get you professional results (or better) with little time and money.

What is microneedling?

It is a cosmetic procedure that involves repeatedly puncturing the skin with tiny, sterile needles to induce collagen production. It triggers your body’s natural ability to repair itself, flooding the “injured” site with collagen and elastin producing cells.

Microneedle penetrating the skin showing how skin care product is pushed into deeper layers of skin.

Microneedling can provide a wide range of benefits for the skin with little to no pain or downtime, making it a popular treatment option for individuals looking to improve the overall health and appearance of their skin. Some of the main benefits of microneedling include:

  1. Increased collagen production: One of the key benefits of microneedling is that it can stimulate the production of collagen in the skin. Collagen is a protein that helps to keep the skin firm, smooth, and elastic. As we age, our natural collagen production decreases, which can lead to wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin. Microneedling can help to stimulate collagen production, which can improve the overall texture and appearance of the skin.
  2. Improved skin texture and tone: Microneedling can also improve the texture and tone of the skin. By creating small punctures in the skin, microneedling can stimulate the body’s natural healing process, which can lead to smoother, brighter, and more even-toned skin.
  3. Reduced pore size: Microneedling can also help to reduce the size of pores on the skin. This is because the small punctures created by the tiny needles can stimulate the production of elastin, which helps to support the skin and keep pores tight and small.
  4. Reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles: Microneedling can also help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the skin. By stimulating collagen production and improving skin texture and tone, microneedling can help to smooth out wrinkles and fine lines and give the skin a more youthful appearance.
  5. Reduced appearance of scars and hyperpigmentation: Microneedling can also be effective in reducing the appearance of scars and hyperpigmentation. By stimulating collagen production and improving skin texture, microneedling can help to fade acne scars, deeper scars and hyperpigmentation and give the skin a more even tone.

What needle depth should I use?

Microneedling involves creating small punctures in the skin using tiny needles. The depth of the needles, sometimes referred to as the needle length, used in the procedure can vary depending on the specific needs of the patient and the area of the body being treated. Here are some common needle depths or needle lengths used in microneedling:

  1. 0.25 mm – This is the most common needle depth used in microneedling. It is typically used to treat mild skin issues such as fine lines, uneven skin tone, and mild acne scarring.
  2. 0.5 mm – This needle depth is typically used to treat deeper acne scars and other moderate skin issues.
  3. 1.0 mm – This needle depth is typically used to treat deeper wrinkles, stretch marks, and more severe acne scarring.
  4. 1.5 mm – This needle depth is typically used to treat deep wrinkles and severe acne scarring.
  5. 2.0 mm – This needle depth is typically used for body areas that have thicker skin such as
    the back or thighs, and for treating deep scars and stretch marksNeedle depths .25 through 1.0 require no to minimal downtime. The deeper needle depths may require some minimal downtime.

Microneedles reaching Epidermis and Dermis depths.

Needle depth or needle length .20-.30 is deep enough to give you excellent results when done consistently. This is called Cosmetic needling and is great for product absorption and collagen induction. It can be safely done daily. This procedure involves cleaning the skin, applying an anti-aging skincare product to the skin, and then microneedling it into the skin. This pushes the skincare product into the deeper, more active depths of the skin, while simultaneously promoting collagen and elastin growth. 

Some of my favorite skin care products to microneedle are:

Skinceuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier
Neocutis Bio Serum Firm
The Ordinary 10% Argireline Solution
SkinCeuticals Resveratrol B E

Always apply a moisturizer or Hyaluronic acid to your skin after the treatment. If you’re microneedling during the daytime, make sure it has SPF. I use SkinCeuticals Daily Brightening UV Defense Sunscreen SPF30 during the day and Skinceuticals Epidermal Repair at night.

I usually needle at home, DIY, between the depths of .25 and .75. Needling in this range will produce great results and is virtually painless. For those of you with a low pain tolerance you can use a numbing cream like Ebanel 5% Lidocaine Numbing Cream that should make the treatment painless.

Does needle thickness matter in microneedling?

12 needles Microneedle Pen head

Yes, it’s not just the depth of the needle penetration that matters, the thickness of the needles used in microneedling can also affect the results of the treatment. The thickness of the needles used is closely related to the diameter of the needle, and it impacts the depth of needle penetration, as well as the level of collagen stimulation and other benefits that the treatment provides.

Generally, thinner needles are  less painful and have shorter recovery times. Thicker needles, on the other hand, create wider holes and can lead to more discomfort and longer recovery times, but they also stimulate collagen and elastin production more effectively.

For DIY at home needle device I use a Dr. Pen. It comes with several variations of needle depth and width to choose from, depending on the model Dr. Pen you have. The thickest needles are 12 to 16 needles per head and the thinner needle heads are 36 needles. Nano needle heads are very thin needles and are completely painless at any cosmetic depth. I have used the Dr. Pen A6S for years. You can learn about the Dr. Pen here.

Dr. Pen Microneedling Device

You can always use a derma roller for your at home needling device. They are much less expensive, however, the needles aren’t disposable so you have to clean the roller every time you’re finished rolling. Also, derma rollers have one size needle per roller, so you would need to get several rolling devices to reach various depths into your skin. If you choose to microneedle with a derma roller, look for one with titanium needles. The needles are sturdier hold their sharp point longer.

If you use a derma roller for your at home microneedling, roll the device vertically, horizontally and diagonally across your skin. If you use a pen device for microneedling, you’ll want to move the device in a circular motion.

Sanitation is key!

Sanitation is a crucial aspect of at home microneedling to ensure that the procedure is performed safely and effectively.

  1. Hand washing: Before performing the procedure, you should thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. For further sanitation safety, you can wear disposable plastic gloves.
  2. Sanitizing the treatment area: The treatment area should be sanitized with an antiseptic solution before the procedure begins. This helps to reduce the risk of infection and ensures that the skin is clean and ready for the treatment.
  3. Sterilizing the microneedling device: The microneedling device should be sterilized before and after each use. This can be done by soaking the device in a disinfectant solution, using an autoclave, or using a single-use device that is disposed of after each treatment. I use a Dr. Pen that has disposable, 1 time use, needle heads and each pen head comes in a sanitized package. It’s the easiest and safest DIY method for at-home microneedling.
  4. Disinfecting the treatment space: The treatment space should be disinfected before each use. This includes wiping down surfaces and microneedling devices with a disinfectant solution.

These steps are vitally important because microneedling can potentially cause an infection if proper sanitation practices are not followed. The microneedling process creates micro-injuries on the skin, which can allow bacteria to enter and cause an infection if the skin is not properly sanitized.

Can everyone benefit from microneedling?

No. You should not try microneedling if you have any of these conditions:

  • Have active acne or other skin infections such as Rosacea, active acne breakouts, extremely sensitive skin, severe Melasma, wound healing issues, an active infection, or a cold sore
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have a history of keloid scars or abnormal wound healing
  • Are taking certain medications, such as blood thinners or Accutane
  • Have a history of skin diseases or conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis

If you’re a candidate for DIY at home microneedling and follow the safety and sanitation protocols, you’re on your way to professional level results, with affordable at-home skin care.

Supplies you’ll need for DIY microneedling:

1- Microneedling pen (I use the Dr.Pen A6S)

2- Numbing Cream (optional)

3- Alcohol prep pads

4- Alcohol 70% Isopropyl

5- Additional Cartridges

6- Gloves (optional)

7- Skincare serum

8- Headband

Once you have your space and face cleaned and the pen ready to go with the cartridge head attached, you’re ready to get started. To begin, you want to use the lowest speed on the device. You also want to use the lowest setting for the depth of needle: .25 mm. This is a good depth for product absorption and you can do this daily if you’re using thin needles, like a 36 pen head or nano needles. It’s also good depth for areas of the face with thin skin like the forehead, eyes and nose. For the rest of your face, adjust the pen length to between .50 and 1.0, depending on what feels comfortable to you.

As you get more experience with DIY at home microneedling, you’ll get more comfortable with the process and can make adjustments to your preferences.

Microneedling face chart. Illustrates depth and direction of microneedling device on various parts of the face.

How often should you microneedle?

The frequency of microneedling treatments depends on several factors, including the type of microneedling device used, the depth of the needles, and the individual’s skin type and concerns. In general, it’s recommended to wait longer the thicker the needle and the deeper the penetration.

I wait at least 2 to 3 weeks after my face is fully healed before I do another treatment. Keep in mind, I do relatively mild treatments. Here’s what the professionals say about it:

The time it takes for collagen to be rebuilt after microneedling can vary depending on several factors, including the individual’s age, and the overall health of the skin. In general, it can take several weeks to months for the collagen to rebuild and for the full benefits of microneedling to be seen. Studies have shown that collagen synthesis can increase up to 400% in the first six months after microneedling, with most of the collagen production occurring within the first few weeks after the procedure.

Microneedling Resources

This is Penn Smith, and she has this great tutorial for DIY microneedling and she’s a certified aesthetician.

This is a great video explaining the Dr. Pen settings, as well as the microneedling process.