Can Micro-Needling Do More Harm Than Good?

The idea of stabbing your face with itty-bitty needles could send even the bravest beauty babe running for the hills. But, micro-needling is indeed a thing — and it's becoming more visible in the beauty industry.
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While plenty of people go to spas to get the procedure done by capable professionals, you could also pick up a dermaroller and do it from the comfort of your own couch. Like just about everything else, there are YouTube videos designed to show you how it's done.
But, like any derm-meets-DIY treatment out there, doing it at home has potential risks. "The biggest issue we see is that people use topicals immediately after rolling," says dermatologist Michael Gold, MD, a consultant to EndyMed Medical. "That can cause problems." Gold says that while certain products are approved for use with a micro-needle roller, there are a lot that should not be used.
"You're opening channels to your skin, allowing product to penetrate deeply," he says. "Any time you do that, you're open to the risk of irritation and infection on a deeper level." An infection on top of the skin is hard enough to deal with. But, if misuse of a product causes a reaction below the skin's surface, it's much harder to treat.
Another issue? At-home consumers don't always know proper technique — or what size needles to purchase. "Once you get longer needles, there's a pain aspect to it," Gold says. "Longer needles also open the skin to infection more than shorter ones, and they can affect the contours of your face."
Robin Black, makeup artist behind Beauty is Boring, agrees with Gold, but is quick to defend the procedure. "I've been having professional micro-needling treatments for the past four months," she explains. "The type of treatment I have [uses] very shallow needles — .5mm long. They produce just as effective results as the longer ones favored by many dermatologists, but without the pain and skin trauma."
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Black also micro-needles at home. But, before she started, she got a professional tutorial from her esthetician, Kerry Benjamin. "I always advise my clients to purchase devices and get training from a professional on the proper technique," Benjamin says. "Also, it's important to learn how to care for your device and properly cleanse it, as well as know when to replace it."
The takeaway? You can absolutely get the spa-quality results you're looking for, as long as you're smart about it. "If people are unsure, they should always go to a professional who knows how to use a micro-needling device," Gold says. Well put, doc.


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