Your guide to at-home derma rollers

Plus, our top product picks to get you started

Beauty Crew Contributing Editor / August 17 2021

Derma rollers are an interesting - and yep, scary - beauty product. At a glance, the idea of pin-pricking your skin with tiny needles seems painful and confusing. How can that possibly do your skin any good? Well, there is a method to the madness.

What is a derma roller?

A derma roller is a hand-held device that features hundreds of micro-needles around the circumference of its roller head. It’s like a mini paint roller with needles. When rolled over the skin, the needles create micro-injuries that signal to your body to produce more collagen and elastin to repair the affected area. And you know what more collagen and elastin means: plumper and tighter skin and fewer wrinkles! It may also help heal scars (including acne scars). The concept is the same as the professional version - microneedling, which we have covered IN FULL over here.

The other way a derma roller works is to help drive all those powerhouse ingredients in your serums deeper down into the skin, via those mini punctures (which act like channels).

Can it help with cellulite or stretch marks?

According to one Redditor, it can - she had some pretty impressive before and after stretch marks results to share. However, the general consensus is that the needles on an at-home derma roller aren’t long enough to reach deep below the skin’s surface to significantly address cellulite and stretch marks. 

What about hair growth?

While professional-level microneedling has been used to treat hair loss - the micro-injuries it creates are thought to boost growth factors and stem cells in the scalp -, the needles in an at-home device are again too small to penetrate deeply enough to have an impact.

Do derma rollers work?

We’ll be honest, the jury is still out - and quite divided (read two sides of the story here!). While great results have been documented when it comes to professional-grade microneedling, due to the small needles used for at-home dermarolling, there are some doubts around how much of an impact it has on encouraging collagen production. The bottom line: there is no scientific evidence to confirm the effectiveness of these devices, but that’s not to say we haven’t heard people rave about them! Especially when used prior to using serums to increase penetration (just make sure you limit use to once every few weeks - too much dermarolling may cause inflammation).

Is there any downtime involved?

During an in-salon microneedling treatment, there is redness and some bleeding involved. However, when using at-home derma rollers, since the needles are smaller (for your safety), it’s less likely you’ll be a blotchy mess post-use and there should be no blood. That said, we recommend you make it part of your nighttime skin care routine since your skin does its best repairing work overnight.

Who shouldn’t use one?

If you have highly-sensitive skin, including eczema and psoriasis, this treatment, albeit gentle, may not be for you. For those using active ingredients in your skin care routine, such as retinol, you should stop using them about a week prior to dermarolling, as it may cause your skin to be too reactive. Also, don’t ever use a derma roller over cystic acne or open pimples, as it can spread the bacteria and lead to infection.

How to use one on your face

Step #1 / First, cleanse your skin so the surface is clean. Follow with a toner to rebalance the skin’s pH levels.

Step #2 / Now for your derma facial. Using a light hand, roll the derma roller in a systematic pattern horizontally over your face, working from the centre outwards. Give yourself a wide berth around the eye area. Start at your forehead, work your way down to your cheeks, move on to your chin.

Step #3 / Next, repeat step two, but this time move the derma roller vertically up and down the face.

Step #4 / Go over the face a third and final time in a diagonal direction.

Step #5 / Follow with your favourite serum. Applying one immediately after dermarolling will increase its absorption by the skin.

TOP TIP: Avoid using active ingredients like retinol with your derma roller as it’s likely to cause irritation and trauma to the skin.

How to clean your derma roller

Now this is important, because if your roller isn’t clean, you’re going to push bacteria into your skin with every roll and nothing good is going to come from that! Clean yours after *every* use by soaking it in rubbing alcohol and replace your device after every 10 uses as the needles will start to blunten.

Does it hurt?

Yes, it can. But for most it’s tolerable (that is, if you even feel any pain at all). If you have a low pain threshold, you might want to give this treatment a skip. DO NOT take any aspirin or blood thinners before or immediately after dermarolling.

How to choose the right derma roller

Given there are needles involved, this is not a time to skimp or purchase without doing your research. You want quality. Our advice is to go with a brand you already know and trust. There are also varying needle sizes, with 0.2mm and 0.3mm being the most popular, and the best choice. Anything bigger and you risk damaging your skin if you don’t know what you’re doing.

If you’re thinking about trying derma rolling at home, try one of these devices. We’ve hunted down some of the best derma roller products out right now, with reviews.

#4 / Nurse Jamie Beauty Stamp

While not technically a ‘roller’, this product uses a stamping (pressing) motion, rather than rolling over the face. The needles are 0.2mm. “The Beauty Stamp may very well be the best investment anyone can make,” said creator of the tool and founder of Nurse Jamie, Jamie Sherrill in an interview with W magazine. “A small pad features a cross section of micro needles in a grid that helps with micro exfoliation, opens channels for product delivery and efficacy and aids in the body process of collagen and elastin production. It is my triple threat.”

The review: “Love this stamping tool. I am obsessed! I use It once a week and I am a true believer in a controlled healing response. It is similar yet a more superficial version of microneedling. I believe way better than a roller, because it enters the skin at a straight angle not a 45 degree like a roller would enter and exit at. I get a [lot] of compliments after using it- the day of and after!” jlundyaethetic, Sephora US customer

Cost: $73.99 at REVOLVE

Nurse Jamie Beauty Stamp

#3 / Skinstitut Skin-Inject DNC Derma Roller

What sets this derma roller apart is its 10 independently-rotating discs, which have 600 gamma-sterilised, surgical-grade stainless steel micro needles (0.25mm in size) in total. It has a 4-star rating on Adore Beauty (with 34 reviews).

The review: “Designed to complement the in-clinic professional micro-needling at clinics such as Laser Clinics Australia, the Skinstitut Skin-Inject DNC Derma Roller 0.25mm is great for getting your products to penetrate deeper and help boost skin regeneration. Use it once a week to help smooth out roughness and boost skin radiance.” Sally Hunwick, marie claire’s Beauty Director

Cost: $79.95 at Adore Beauty

Skinstitut Skin-Inject DNC Derma Roller 0.25mm

#2 / Lonvitalite Dermal Roller

Featuring 540 needles in total, this easy-to-use derma roller uses 0.3mm medical-grade stainless steel needles. It has a 4.5-star rating on Adore Beauty, with 30 reviews in total. It comes with a sealed hygienic pouch and a reusable plastic storage case to keep it clean.

The review: I have been using this product a couple times a week for the past two weeks and so far, I’ve been really happy with this product. I purchased the roller to help with my acne scarring as I had heard using a derma roller can help to heal the scars quicker. Although I haven’t been using this product for very long, I have already seen results. The derma roller does leave your face looking a little red afterwards but goes away quickly and there is a little bit of pain depending how much pressure you use but it is bearable. My acne scars definitely look much better only after a few uses and have improved quite a lot and the redness of the scars has been reduced.” Amy, Adore Beauty customer

Cost: $59.95 at Adore Beauty

Lonvitalite Dermal Roller

#1 / Mukti Organics Microneedle Dermal Roller

This is a very popular derma roller in Australia, no doubt due to it being Australian made and the fact that the brand itself is certified vegan and cruelty-freeAnd because it works, according to the reviews on Nourished Life, where it has a 4.5-star rating (with 78 reviews in total). The needles are 0.25mm and made from titanium alloy, and Mukti Organics claims their derma roller enhances product penetration by up to 40 per cent. 

The review: I was slightly terrified the first time using this – the thought of rolling tiny needles up, down and across my face didn’t exactly seem like a good time. Thankfully the motion felt more like a massage with tiny little pricks (I swear it wasn’t painful) and the whole process took probably a minute at most. After my dermal rolling session, I gently pressed in my serum, and finished off my skin care routine with my night moisturiser. My skin felt soft and plump – albeit looked a tiny bit red – and felt great the next morning. I tend to not go too hard on the dermal rolling, and only bring it out once every few months.” Carli Alman, Beauty Crew’s Editor

Cost: $59.95 at Nourished Life

Mukti Organics Microneedle Dermal Roller

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Main image credit: @muktiorganics

Chelsea is BEAUTYcrew’s Contributing Editor. She has a sweet spot for anything that claims to make skin glow and won’t leave the house without a slick of mascara. Chelsea has 10 years of experience as a beauty editor and her words can be found on BEAUTYcrew, Women’s Health, Daily Addict, The Joye and Primped.