Stabbing My Way To Better Skin

The derma roller may look--and slightly feel--like a torture device, but it's doing wonders to make my post-acne discoloration less noticeable.

I’m a skin picker. I don’t really remember when it started, but I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. I pick my scabs, the skin around my fingernails, basically any “imperfections” I see on my skin.

This includes pimples. I don’t pop my zits; I scratch at them with my nails until I rip them off my face. When that heals to a scab, I’ll do the same thing to the scab.

I KNOW THIS IS GROSS, OK? It’s basically a medical wonder I haven’t had some sort of horrible skin infection (as my mother often reminds me as she swats my hands away from my face).

I’ve come up with my own ways of preventing myself from picking at my skin, but the damage to my skin is done. After a bad bout of acne this fall, which I’ve only recently gotten under control thanks to oil cleansing, I have acne scarring.

I knew ripping pieces of skin off my face would lead to scarring, but I wasn’t going let that stop me! So now have clusters of scarring on both sides of my mouth that are basically impossible to cover, partially due to the fact that I am also painfully white, which makes any sort of hyperpigmentation even more visible on my skin.

I know from experience that a scar never fully goes away but you can make them less noticeable. Enter the derma roller.

As you may have noticed, it’s a roller with lots of tiny needles on it. And I’m going to rub it on my face.

“But Sarah,” you ask in a concerned and incredulous tone, “why would you willingly use what looks like a medieval torture device on your face?”

Because it will help diminish the appearance of my acne scars, of course.

You see, our skin is really good at healing itself. So when you roll the needles on the derma roller over an area of the face, it makes little tiny holes in the skin, which will then heal with new, healthy tissue. So when you roll it over an area with scarring, the new healthy tissue should make the scar less noticeable.

Derma rollers can also help with things like hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. They’re inexpensive and readily available online. Sounds good right?


The downside to "microneedling," as the cool kids call it, is that it hurts. The first time I used my derma roller, I didn’t use a numbing cream because I thought I was hardcore. After the first pass of the roller, I quickly realized I was not as hardcore as I thought I was (which was pretty crushing), and promptly ordered a numbing cream. So if you, too, want to use one, wipe any makeup off the area you’ll be treating then apply the numbing cream according to the instructions. However, I didn’t use a numbing cream when filming this tutorial, and it didn’t hurt that bad this time around, so who knows. Give it whirl and see what suits you!

When you’re comfortably numb (I’m clever), wash your face with your regular face soap to make sure it’s clean. I use Dr. Bronner’s because it doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin but it gets my face REALLY clean, and that’s how you want it before doing this. You don’t want any yucky stuff on the surface of your skin.

The next step--AND THIS IS SO IMPORTANT PLEASE DON’T SKIP THIS, GUYS, I’M SO SERIOUS--is to sterilize the roller. These needles are going into your precious, precious skin, and skin infection is really not cute and costs way more to treat than a $2 bottle of rubbing alcohol. Pour a bit into a tiny bowl then roll the needles in it. Make sure you get them all, and then hold it until it dries, so it doesn’t get contaminated.

Then you just roll. You want to roll in a plus sign, then an X formation, four to five times in each direction, over the area you’re treating (I would recommend watching the video for a full demonstration).

Also, avoid treating areas with active acne, since the roller can spread the bacteria and therefore the acne. Afterwards the area will be red and a bit tender, but that’s it. I usually do this at night before bed, and the redness is gone by morning. I did this during the day for filming purposes and the redness was gone in about a half an hour, so the down time isn’t bad at all.

I’ve only done this a few times but I’m already seeing great results. So once you get past the whole “I’m stabbing my face with tiny needles repeatedly in the name of more even skin,” I would say this is a pretty amazing product and worth a shot if you struggle with scarring.