Derma Roller: Medieval Torture Device Or Product Absorption Tool?

Ready to enter the prickly world of micro-needling?
Publish date:
August 28, 2014
anti-aging, acne scars, acne treatments, skin care, micro-needling, derma roller, microabrasion

Sometimes I go out looking for the strangest beauty products I can find, just because. I like to scour the annals of beauty review sites and online shops until I find something people claim is their Holy Grail. Then I investigate like an ombre'd Indiana Jones, impervious to trickery.

A recent bout of digging through the beauty catacombs led me to a discovery that is not technically new, but seemingly obscure: Derma Rollers. Not to be confused with a medieval torture device (or a pizza dough docker), Derma Rollers, as they are called, range in price and quality, but are all basically alike in their design--plastic, handheld, and covered in spiky needles.

What, pray tell, could this be used for, you might ask. Quite a few things. The idea behind derma rollers is to create micro-abrasions on the upper layer of the skin. These micro-abrasions, according to the anecdotes of users and the marketing claims of derma roller makers, allow products and their ingredients to better penetrate skin.

I ordered a cheap $13 Derma Roller (a 1.0 mm unit) off of Amazon to start. I studied the instructions and YouTube tutorials and learned that keeping the product clean is an essential part of using it properly.

It doesn’t feel too nice, but you only need to use it once per week or every five days. Vaguely like getting a tattoo but nowhere near as painful, this jam puts the pain in the saying “beauty is pain.”

Here's how to use it:

- Spray the tool and your work area with 70 percent alcohol. The tool should be soaked in dish soap and water before your first use and after each use.

- Only use on clean, softened skin, like, out of the shower or after a steam sesh.

- Roll both horizontally and vertically with minimal pressure. You shouldn’t be pressing this into the skin too hard; it will make little pricks with light pressure.

- Only roll a 1.5- to 2-inch area at a time, always upward if vertical or inward if horizontal. Lift the tool before changing direction and don't ever roll if it feels "stuck" because you could scratch your skin.

- Always apply active ingredient products afterward. Whether you are a vitamin A, B, or C chica, effects of these actives are supposedly far more potent when paired with this tool.

- Spray the tool and casing with alcohol before putting it away.

Here’s a pic of some annoying acne scarring that I am going to test it on. For some reason a new zit cropped up right next to these scars, so I'll also test the derma roller on pimples.

I will be using this tool every five days for the next few weeks and noting any positive or negative effects.

So far I've tried it a few times, and I have a feeling it's going to work pretty great! The pain was not intolerable, but it was a little disconcerting at first. I'm not sure if it's a good or bad thing (I'm on the edge of my seat!), but the sting of my SK-II toner and vitamin C serum was noticeably more intense.

Tell me below, dear friends, have you tried this contraption? Anyone into the high-end versions or longer needles? Do you have any tips and tricks for my trial period?

Photos: Darnell Scott