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Beauty

Will It Hurt, And What Does It Actually Do? A Beginner's Guide To Microneedling

We are no stranger to enduring discomfort and sometimes, even pain, in the pursuit of beauty. From dealing with hot wax to squeezing into shape wear, we’ve all been there and done that. Yet, we are constantly on the lookout for the next thing that can promise us smoother, brighter and younger-looking skin. And while microneedling isn’t exactly a new treatment that’s trending at the moment, there are many doubts and questions surrounding it, so we’re here to clear the air.

As scary as it sounds, microneedling is said to be a great way to improve skin texture as well as boost the penetration of potent serums into your skin. But how exactly does it work? After all, it does involve needles so it’s best to get all the facts before diving straight in. Here are seven things you need to know about microneedling before trying it for yourself:

#1: How It Works

Not to be confused with acupuncture for the face, microneedling involves creating tiny puncture wounds on skin. These “wounds” enable skincare products applied to penetrate deeper and quicker into skin layers, and at the same time, bring about skin’s repair mechanism to improve skin texture over time.

#2: What Tools Are Used?

Microneedling can be done using either a dermapen or a dermaroller. The former is essentially a pen-like device, with tiny spikes on one end, which when placed over the different areas of the skin, pushes down on skin surface to create these tiny wounds. On the other hand, a dermaroller looks like a painting tool, except it has spikes on the roller. All you have to do is roll the spiked area over your skin to create the tiny holes.

#3: Who Is It Best Suited For?

Since the main benefits of microneedling includes stimulating better absorption of skincare products as well as retexturising skin, it is safe to use for most skin types. This is especially so for those with a rougher skin texture (due to acne scars or wrinkles), who will see more pronounced results. And if you have sensitive skin, it’s best to consult your doctor first.

#4: Does The Length Of Microneedles Matter?

 The answer is yes. While mostly done in a doctor’s office, or by a therapist after a consultation with a doctor, microneedling can also be done at home. The reason is the difference in the length of microneedles. Ranging from 0.25mm to up to 2mm, these microneedles can puncture different layers of the skin, from the stratum corneum all the way down to the dermis.

Needless to say, the tools you can use at home rarely go beyond 0.5mm because any deeper and there will be bleeding. Furthermore, DIY tools do not require the application of topical anaesthesia as the prickling sensation is totally bearable. For DIY tools, their main benefits is still to improve product penetration as it creates channels across the stratum corneum of your skin, so that they can effectively reach your epidermis and beyond instead of just sitting on your skin surface.

However, when it involves doctor-administered microneedling, the needle length tends to be 1mm and these micro punctures they create reach all the way to the dermis. This means that the actual site of cellular regeneration and collagen production is being stimulated. As previously mentioned, there will be some bleeding and the procedure has to be done in a clean and sterile environment. The level of discomfort and pain to be expected is also higher, which explains the use of topical anaesthesia.

#5: How Do I Maintain My Microneedling Tool?

First of all, it’s best to use it only on cleansed and dry skin as this helps inhibit the growth of bacteria. Next, you should store it in a dry and cool place. After each use, it is also very important to make sure you clean and preferably sterilise it with alcohol spray. And make sure to check with the manufacturer about how often you should be replacing it. This is because the tiny spikes get more blunt over time, so not only will it hurt more, the micro trauma they inflict on your skin becomes not-so-micro as well.

#6: What Can I Expect From DIY Tools?

First of all, there is virtually no pain, just a prickling sensation. This is because you are not expected to press the device down firmly against your skin, but instead, you just need to gently guide the roller across your skin. You might experience some redness which should disappear after a few hours or a day at most. But most importantly, you will notice that your skin drinks up any skincare products you apply much better. And for some, you might notice that pores are less pronounced though it’s unlikely that DIY microneedling will improve acne scars significantly as it doesn’t penetrate beyond the epidermis.

#7: Does It Work Well With All Skincare Products?

Since microneedling does cause tiny trauma to the skin, it’s best to avoid ingredients that have the potential of furthering that irritation. For example, avoid ingredients that are responsible for dissolving dead skin cells. This means that you should stay away from glycolic acid, lactic acid and pretty much any AHA and PHA. To err on the safe side, you should also avoid vitamin C and retinol as these can cause irritation in some cases.

Instead, reach for skincare products that contain repairing ingredients including hyaluronic acid, peptides, growth factors, ceramides and lipids. This is because such ingredients really support skin’s repairing process when absorbed into the skin, making the most of the improved product penetration that microneedling brings about.

Above, the microneedling devices you can use at home to improve your skin texture.

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Nurse Jamie Beauty Stamp, about $60, at Net-a-Porter
As its name suggest, this device works like a beauty stamp, making tiny wounds into the skin surface as you stamp it over your face. Thanks to its larger surface area, it can also be used on the neck and chest effectively to improve skin texture. Always use on clean, dry skin and massage in your regular serum after to maximise its skincare benefits. Stacked Skincare Microneedling Tool 2.0, about $169, at www.stackedskincare.com
Made with 0.2mm stainless steel needles, this ensures a gentle and gradual retexturising effect on your skin while inhibiting bacteria growth. Best part? The roller heads can be replaced to minimise wastage as you roll your way to smoother, plumper skin. Environ Gold Roll CIT, about $402, from Joanna Czech
Elevate your microneedling experience at home with this super swanky dermaroller from Environ. Plated in 14-carat gold, it is naturally anti-bacterial to minimise the growth of bacteria on your device. That said, it’s important to rinse it after each use and let it air-dry. With adequate care, your device should last you a year. Plus, it has 260 ultra-fine needles that are 0.2mm to give your skin the tiniest pricks. They are also made of surgical stainless steel so you know you’re getting the best quality product for your investment. And best of all, it has just enough weight so you can just roll it over your skin without exerting pressure to get the best results. GloPRO® Microneedling Regeneration Tool, about $268, at BeautyBio
More than just microneedling, this high-tech tool also combines LED phototherapy and VibroTactile Stimulation (a vibrating effect) to bring about a synergistic regenerative effect on the skin. As abovementioned, the microneedles prick skin with tiny holes, and when coupled with the slight vibrating effect, it ensures that your skin drinks up all the skincare products you apply afterwards. At the same time, red LED light is emitted to boost collagen production for an all-in-one action against visible signs of ageing like dullness, fine lines and wrinkles and sagging.