Derma Rollers are hot sellers, but the at-home microneedling tool can sometimes do more harm than good
Be cautious of these sharp objects.
The derma roller, a handheld microneedling device made with hundreds of tiny needles used to poke holes into the face to make skin look younger, is estimated to be 2018’s hottest at-home beauty product, according to Pinterest. But experts say it’s ineffective, and even dangerous in the wrong hands.
Aestheticians and dermatologists use derma rollers on clients to increase elasticity, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and help with discoloration. Professional treatment can cost anywhere from $100 to $1,200 per session, so beauty buffs are investing in DIY devices of their own that sell for as low as $10.99 on Amazon to $190 for fancier devices like a Glopro. A trend report for 2018 from lifestyle site Pinterest says its seen a 345% increase in posts for the “derma roller” over the past year.
“When done by an experienced technician it really addresses elasticity and wrinkles like nothing else,” New York City-based celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas, who has worked with clients like Sofia Coppola and Maggie Gyllenhaal tells Moneyish. “It is supposed to increase collagen production, erase fine lines and wrinkles and improve uneven pigment. Derma rolling can also be used to penetrate high tech ingredients such as stem cells and epidermal growth factor.”
But dermatologists are highly against using the tools at home because they say the needles aren’t big enough to penetrate the proper holes into skin, so you’re essentially damaging your face for no reason. And without proper sterilization, derma rollers can harbor harmful bacteria causing infections, breakouts and can trigger skin conditions such as rosacea, which causes redness and bumps on the face; eczema, itchy inflammation spots; and melasma, brown patches on the skin.
“Your risk of scarring or creating a problem is there, but you don’t get a benefit. Unless you’re using a sterile or disposable one, it can grow bacteria and yeast and you’re going to have that penetrate the skin,” Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City says.
A professional treatment starts with a dermatologist applying a topical anesthetic. Skin is then primed with products to stimulate collagen and a brightener that contains Vitamin C. Clients are then pricked with needles and often bleed. For results, Day says patients will do at least three treatments per year with four to six weeks in between each.
Microneedling has become a non-invasive alternative to other anti-aging methods like injectable Botox, fillers and laser treatments to create more supple looking skin. And celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston and Kim Kardashian have sung the derma rollers praises.
But some people aren’t fans of the at home beauty routine. New York-based makeup artist Carolina Dali tried a derma roller and felt that it did nothing but dry up her skin.
“The roller left my skin feeling and looking no different than using a safer alternative like an exfoliator,” says Dali, who also got a professional microneedling treatment done and said it was much more effective. “When I tried it at my dermatologist’s office, my skin was glowing for days on end. I found that I needed less moisturizer and it absorbed faster in my skin.”
Day agrees that an in office visit is your best bet, and suggests consulting with a doctor before even considering using a derma roller at home.
“I’m not saying never to do it, but from what I’ve seen available now, there’s nothing that’s safe and reliable. It’s not made for home use just yet,” says Day. “You can get scarring; you can get bumps under the skin; you can get infections — some of that can be permanent.”
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