I am not a masochist. And yet not long ago I excitedly clicked to add the Derma Roller by Diva d’or into my Amazon shopping cart.
Like many of my friends, you may wonder why. You may look at me with slight concern. You may grimace upon seeing the device. And then like the majority of them and like me prior to purchasing one, you’ll also find yourself online, late-night, reading articles and reviews of this incredibly simplistic and possibly very painful but potentially highly effective beauty tool.
The reason you’ll do it is not because you want to experience pain. But because sometimes beauty is pain. And if it works, hell yeah it’s worth it.
More, this pain does not come at a fancy dermatologist office price, this pain does not come with days of unsightly downtime and this pain does not come at the hands of anyone but yourself, so you control when you roll, how much pressure you apply, which products to use afterwards and so on.
It is basically the potential promise of beautiful, youthful skin for (1) the cheap (2) the busy (3) the lazy (4) the experimental (5) the curious and (6) the vain. Name me a woman who doesn’t fit into any of these boxes. If you really can, she won’t be interested. For the rest of us, a slim shapely white wand with a purple head of prickly pins stores all the intrigue of a budding romance.
Will it work between us? How long will it take? Will it be love? Will we be together forever?
The Derma Roller by Diva d’or (and there are plenty of others on the market) is a titanium micro needle roller with 540 needles. You can select your needle length and the ones I researched tend to range from 0.5mm to 3mm (with 3mm recommended for thicker body skin as opposed to more delicate and thinner facial skin).
Mine cost under $20 (!!!), probably why the tool has been appropriated coined by one derm, ““the poor man’s Fraxel.“
What does it do?
The claims go on and on. Microneedling is said to improve a variety of skin concerns including fine lines, wrinkles, acne marks, scars, hyperpigmentation, melasma, uneven or dull skin texture, pore size, stretch marks, hair loss and more. Particularly when carefully followed up with the proper skincare regimen.
Here are some before & after pics courtesy of the world wide web.
How does it do it?
By causing tiny piercings (basically “injuring” the skin), the body responds in a reparative manner. The method triggers the body’s own production of collagen and elastin.
But DOES IT REALLY WORK for any or all of these things?
Well, wouldn’t you want to find out for yourself?! I most certainly did.
I also happen to have a 15-years-older friend with amazing skin who has used one for years and her well-known celebrity dermatologist (also with a phenomenal face) privately uses one too. So while I read some things about risks and safety, I planned to use my own very carefully and test it’s effectiveness.
When it arrived, I was fascinated as was a girlfriend I had over and, interestingly, my boyfriend too. I think he was curious if it would draw blood and also impressively likened it to a non-sexual Wartenberg wheel.
My boyfriend was the first to try it out, on his forearm. My friend and I were relieved to see that even with significant pressure, it did not puncture skin. He eventually got teeny tiny droplets of blood but it wasn’t just on contact.
Immediately I liked this thing even more. But I didn’t end up using it that night. I dipped it into 70% rubbing alcohol and let it dry.
The first time I did use it, I was nervous. Like when you first try an at-home laser hair removal device like Tria and you know it’s gonna hurt. But it really didn’t hurt. To me, it felt slightly unpleasant but totally manageable. I did see my skin turn pink, though, after each pass on each area of the face. It is advised to roll up and down, then across, then diagonally each way over each area. So area by area, my face went from olive to pink.
I dipped the head of the roller into rubbing alcohol and again let it dry, while deciding on my post-roll skincare regimen.
I had read a lot about being careful because the now “injured” skin could be very sensitive and reactive. So I patted a few drops of Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum over my cheeks where I have a touch of hyperpigmentation and sun damage, and topped it with my customized Ioma Paris night cream over my full face. (It is also advised to roll at night before bed, as the body repairs itself during the sleep cycle plus you won’t be exposed to any outdoor elements or be putting any makeup on).
I definitely felt the sting of the Vitamin C – but in the I-think-its-working way. And the Ioma calmed that down. And soon after, my complexion returned to normal. No reactions.
The very next morning, I definitely saw the fine lines around my eyes plumped out and the texture of my skin looked smoother and more refined. OMG. It. Was. Working.
I now use the device 2x a week. My goals are to minimize fine lines, keep wrinkles from forming, refine pores and overall skin texture plus eliminate sun spots. What can I say? I dream big.
And so far, just six weeks in, my expectations are starting to be met. Brilliant.
Note: I am very careful to clean the device each time I use it and I am also very careful with what I apply topically to skin that has self-created microscopic piercings in it.
Now, is the derma roller the holy grail of skin treatments?
Depends on your concerns and your commitment level. I love my derma roller. I always feel my skin looks amazing the morning after use and over time I see the condition of my skin improving overall. Not mad at that! But, as with skincare, you have to keep using it to keep seeing results. And it doesn’t do it all for everyone – each person is so different – so two people using it the exact same way, even with similar skin problems/types, may have different results. If you read reviews online, you know this much is true.
Additionally, my own main skin issue is that I feel my under-eye area looks “hollow” especially in photos and on-camera. Since I don’t go very close to my eyes with the needler, I won’t be able to address that with it.
Of course, there are skeptics and also those who believe this kind of thing is better left for the professionals.
We spoke to Dr. Michael Gold, who uses a professional device called EndyMed in his office. We asked him what he felt the dangers were with at-home tools. He responded, “The primary danger comes with people not understanding how to use them correctly, using needles that are too deep and then applying inappropriate products to the skin. Pain, potential infection risks, and other adverse events have been reported in some individuals. We’ve seen contact dermatitis-like skin rashes and what we call granulomas – small nodules under the skin. ”
But a treatment with EndyMed would also be far more expensive, so how does it outperform a home roller? Dr. Gold cites getting consistent, even and predictable results with the “big box” device:
“The in-office EndyMed Intensif device uses microneedles to penetrate into the dermis to create a fractional injury that is uniform from pulse to pulse. This allows us to perform the microneedling procedure in a precise manner all over the treatment area. These needles actually bypass the epidermal-dermal barrier to allow the radiofrequency energy to give consistent results. By bypassing the epidermal-dermal barrier, we eliminate one of the more common side effects seen with some of the devices used for rejuvenation or for scars – that is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH. The treatment allows us to treat photo-damaged skin as well as scars, in a uniform, precise and accurate manner to give consistent results. The benefits are just being seen in the US – we have been using these kinds of devices outside the US for several years. With micro-needling, we can see elimination of acne scars at a faster rate than conventional resurfacing. We also see a great rejuvenation effect on the skin and, at the same time, since we are using radiofrequency energy, we see skin tightening.”
Dr. Gold mentions that with EndyMed there is a day or two of downtown after the treatment but that “results last for an extended period of time.”
Could that be worth it? Absolutely.
My personal feeling is that if you have the time and the money to see a reputable dermatologist, that’s always a great route. Everyone knows I live for the Derm Duo in NYC and check in with them regularly to learn about new devices and technologies and skincare products. But if that isn’t an option, and you intend to carefully bring in a new device to your skincare regimen, I can just say that my own experience to date with at-home microneedling has been nothin’ but love.
Note: This post is not sponsored. All thoughts are unbiased and my own. All photos are my own.
Lauren Cosenza is the creator and editor-in-chief of DIVAlicious, a trusted beauty/fashion expert, an on-camera personality and spokesperson, a leading NYC-based professional makeup artist, a published contributor and writer, a brand consultant, a product junkie and an insatiable style seeker.
Serving up style with a side of attitude, DIVAlicious gives women (and men) the confidence and permission to be fabulous. The site is filled with must-have products, pro tips and tricks, how-to DIY tutorials, makeovers, style inspiration and insider access.