Everything you need to know about skin needling

Sarah Pelham

When we hear about a treatment that offers smoother, firmer skin, our ears prick up. Skin needling does all that and then some, so you could say we’re fans. For those of us who like a low-intervention, minimal-downtime approach to our skincare, it’s a winner.

For the ins and outs of this collagen-boosting treatment, stay with us. We promise, it’s not that bad.

What is skin needling?

Skin needling, also known as microneedling and derma needling, is a treatment that uses tiny needles to puncture the top layer of the skin. This provokes a healing response, boosting collagen production and improving skin texture. Basically, it tricks your skin into thinking it’s been hurt, and capitalises on the extra boost that entails.{{/answer}} Those little needles are found on the end of either a pen or a roller, depending on your therapist’s preference👩‍⚕️.

"Micro-needling is a collagen-stimulating treatment great for general skin rejuvenation. It treats textural issues dealing with pores, acne scars, wrinkles, tightening sagging skin, and more," Dr Sejal Shah told Byrdie (1).

What does skin needling do?

Mate, what doesn’t it do? Skin needling is an effective treatment for everything from acne scarring to fine lines, stretch marks, dull skin, pigmentation, and texture issues. It prompts the skin’s healing response, boosts collagen, and generally makes you look like you wash your face with water from the fountain of youth. On top of that, it makes your skincare penetrate better.

How long does skin needling last?

Depending on the results you’re after, your skin therapist will advise a series of 3 to 6 skin needling treatments spaced at least 4 to 8 weeks apart initially. Basically, you’ll be advised to keep booking treatments every month or two until you’re feeling pretty flawless. Once you’ve gotten to your goal-state, you’re looking at a skin needling treatment every 6 to 12 months for longer-term upkeep.

If multiple sessions over the course of a year sounds like a bit much, we’ve noticed that for us even a single treatment does wonders. So you can always start small and see how you go.

Is skin needling safe?

The short answer is yes, skin needling is safe. People who are pregnant are typically advised to give it a miss, as your skin can be extra sensitive during this time. In addition, if your skin is already inflamed, sunburned, infected or in a weakened state of any sort, you’ll want to tread carefully and take advice from your skin therapist (2). Otherwise, it’s not a worry for most people.

Does skin needling hurt?

Well, it might sting a little if it weren’t for the miracle of numbing cream. Your therapist will apply this 30 minutes to an hour before your skin needling treatment itself, which means it’ll be pretty much painless. Some people have compared the feeling to that of a cat licking your face - a little rough, but not uncomfortable.

Dermapen vs. skin needling

So you know how all spaghetti is pasta, but not all pasta is spaghetti? That’s essentially what’s going on here 🍝. A Dermapen is a specific brand of a skin-needling tool, and skin needling refers to the overall type of treatment.

While we’re on the subject, you may also want to know that skin needling and microneedling are different words for the same thing. Dermapen and Dermaroller are both two different brand-name tools used for skin needling.

Skin needling benefits

When you think about how skin needling promotes collagen production, its benefits make a lot of sense. This beloved protein is what keeps our skin glowy and bouncy, and we make less of it as we age, so any encouragement is appreciated.

Skin needling’s benefits include:

  • Improved skin texture
  • Lessened appearance of wrinkles
  • Better skin tone - you’ll glow
  • Diminished stretch marks
  • Reduction in scars and hyperpigmentation

Skin needling for acne scars

You’re in the right house here 🏡. The micro-injuries (we love these ones) created by skin needling can help your skin get its act together when it comes to the unwelcome scars left behind by acne. You may need a few sessions for them to disappear entirely, but if you head to the before-and-after pictures below, you’ll see radical improvements are totally possible.

Skin needling for stretch marks

Look, just about everyone’s got them to some degree, but if you’re looking to give some stretch marks their eviction papers, skin needling could be exactly what you need. You see, stretch marks are actually scars deep within the skin, and skin needling stimulates the collagen production needed to help them heal. Like acne scars, the marks may not completely disappear, but they will likely become less noticeable. Some clinics offer a combination of skin needling and laser therapy in this instance.

Skin needling for pigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is harmless, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we love it. Good news: skin needling can totally help. Because of the way it helps your skin make more collagen, this treatment is a great refresher when it comes to sun damage and discolouration. The whole deal is that it prompts the skin’s natural healing response, you see. Any damage that was already there at the time of the treatment gets taken care of.

Skin needling for fine lines

Ahh, wrinkles. They’re no one’s favourite. However, skin needling can reduce their appearance. Via its collagen-boosting ways, skin needling can help with elasticity, which is what we’re looking for when it comes to fine lines and wrinkles. It also helps your regular skin care penetrate better, so whatever goodies you’re already working with will have the best chance to do their job. Love it.

Skin needling aftercare

One of the strengths of skin needling is that it’s a pretty low-intervention treatment. You might be a little flaky for a few days, and see some redness, but it will likely go down swiftly. It is worth noting that you might be a little red afterwards. It’s probably best to book in for a time when you’re ok with taking it easy for a day or two.

Your therapist will give you specific instructions for your skin, but as a general rule you will want to:

  • Apply moisturiser two or three times a day
  • Get serious about SPF after the initial healing period
  • Avoid getting sweaty
  • Stay away from active skincare - think retinol, vitamin C and so on
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid makeup for 24 to 48 hours

Does skin needling have side effects?

Well, you are creating little wounds in the skin, so there are a couple of factors to consider when it comes to side effects. Rest assured, though, that skin needling is safe and effective when performed by a skilled therapist.

That said, you might see a bit of:

  • Swelling and redness
  • Flaky skin
  • Bruising
  • Some pain

Less likely, but still worth considering, is the possibility of a skin infection or a reaction to one of the topical products used (3). However, if you’ve gone to a reputable clinic and followed all after-care instructions, you should be absolutely fine.

Skin needling before and after

With the caveat that of course, individual results can vary, here are a few delightful skin-needling before and afters for your viewing pleasure.