The first time I ever heard of micro-needling, I felt mildly traumatized. I'm not a fan of needles to begin with, and the mere thought of having a cylinder covered with super-sharp needles rolled over my face was almost enough to send me over the edge. Of course, after hearing the benefits of the treatment being touted by too many celebrity facialists, industry-leading dermatologists, and skin-blessed beauty editors to count, I started to warm to the idea. I just needed more information…
Fast-forward to just a few months ago and I was lucky enough to receive a specialized one-on-one appointment with one of the most sought-after micro-needling experts in the business, Kerry Benjamin. Based in L.A., Benjamin is a licensed esthetician and one of the go-to skincare experts for editors and other important peeps in the beauty and entertainment industries (not to mention the founder and CEO of her very own brand, StackedSkincare).
Finally, I had my first-ever micro-needling treatment, and despite my slightly pink skin post-procedure, the sheen of instantaneous radiance and glow was enough to convince me to take up the practice regularly at home. (Her Microneedling Tool 2.0, $125, might just be my most prized skincare possession point blank.)
As the obsessively curious beauty editor I am, I peppered Benjamin with all my burning questions in person. But considering that micro-needling is one of the most buzzed-about skincare treatments, I thought I'd get her advice down on paper for your benefit as well. Hungry to know more? Ahead, everything you need to know about micro-needling…
What is Micro-Needling?
At first blush, micro-needling might sound equal parts gimmicky, torturous, and intimidating, so we wanted to ask Benjamin straight out of the gate what exactly the treatment is, what it entails, and how it can boost our skin's healthy glow.
As Benjamin explains to us, micro-needling is the practice of using a specialized tool (a chic little roller equipped with hundreds of tiny needles) on top of the skin's surface in order to help stimulate collagen and drive the active ingredients in skincare products deeper into the skin.
"These medical-grade needles stimulate epidermal growth factors to boost collagen and elastin that plump and firm skin, and the rolling process can the increase absorption of active ingredients by greater than 90%," she shares. "Micro-needling treatments are one of the most powerful and effective ways to stop early signs of aging and prevent new fine lines and wrinkles from occurring."
Additionally, if you pair micro-needling with the right high-quality serums, the treatment can help lift away dark sports and other forms of pesky pigmentation and for those with acne-related collateral damage (think pits and scarring), micro-needling can even help break up stubborn scar tissue, which might help even out skin's texture over time.
The 3 Most Important Benefits of Micro-Needling
1. Plumper, firmer skin: Thanks to the uptick in collagen production (the needles are essentially—and minorly—injuring the skin which kicks your recovery system into overdrive!) the main and most loved benefit of micro-needling is the plump, firm, finish your complexion will gain from regular treatments.
2. A superior and more even glow: "You'll see an immediate glowing and plumping effect," says Benjamin. "And over time, with the correct serums, you'll see your skin become brighter and the tone and texture more even."
3. Maximum product efficacy: As we mentioned above the pricking process of the needles essentially allows whatever products you use after micro-needling to penetrated deeper, better, and more efficaciously, and basically they're able to do their intended job to their full potential. That said, Benjamin reminds us that because of this, it becomes even more important than you pay attention to the quality and type of products you're using, as they'll have a greater impact on your skin's health and appearance.
"Micro-needling works best with serums that have active ingredients such as stem cells and peptides to help plump and firm the skin and stimulate collagen, growth factors that will help to lift dark spots, and hyaluronic acid to combat dryness," Benjamin shares. "These are the types of ingredients that will really maximize the effects of micro-needling to stimulate collagen, rev up cell turnover, lift hyperpigmentation, smooth out fine lines, firm, plump, and hydrate."
How Much Does Micro-Needling Cost?
Of course, you can do your own micro-needling treatment at home with a handy dandy micro-needling tool (like the one shown above), and while we will touch on that in a minute, we wanted to get the tea regarding how much a true in-office micro-needling treatment will set us back financially. And not surprisingly, it will vary depending on a few important factors.
"In a spa setting, where estheticians are most likely using .5mm or smaller needles that require no downtime or numbing cream, you can expect to pay anywhere from $250 to $350 per treatment," Benjamin tells us. However, for a medical micro-needling treatment, your expert will need to numb your face and will use much larger needles. So, your wallet is going to squeal a bit more.
"These treatments are often done with PRP, platelet-rich plasma, where a professional will draw a small vial of blood, place it in a centrifuge machine to pull out the PRP, and use it as a serum during the treatment," she explains. "PRP is loaded with growth factors, which stimulate collagen and speed up healing and cell turnover boosting your treatment and healing time and these types of micro-needling treatments typically range from $900 to $1200+ per session."
Curious to know what a micro-needling treatment looks like IRL before you book your appointment? You can watch Benjamin getting at treatment as described above here.
Who Shouldn't Try Micro-Needling
Except for those with pustular acne, Benjamin says micro-needling is safe for all skin types and conditions. "By micro-needling over acne, you run the risk of spreading bacteria; however, cystic acne is fine because this is deep in the layers of the skin and micro-needling can actually be very helpful for cystic acne especially paired with the right serum to help speed up healing and cell turnover," she explains. "I always recommend supplementing in-office treatments with daily micro-needling at home with .2mm rollers. This amplifies the results you're getting from your in-office treatments and will also help to maintain the results and prevent further damage."
Risks, Side Effects, and Post-Treatment Care
Despite the intimidating look of micro-needling, Benjamin says there are minimal risks associated with the treatment, as long as you're going to an experienced professional (this is of utmost importance!) and are using a quality tool at home with needles no greater than .2mm. And don't overdo it with the frequency of your treatment plan.
Though it will depend on your specific skincare goals, Benjamin says that as a general guide, she recommends spa-based micro-needling treatments using .5mm needles should be done six times total and roughly once per week to reap the most benefit. And for medical treatments, it's smarter practice to space them out a bit more and go in every four weeks and shoot for four to six treatments total.
As far as what to expect after a professional micro-needling treatment, Benjamin says you'll be glowy but will also experience pinkness or redness, which will calm down one to three days after your procedure. To give your skin extra TLC, she recommends using a growth factor–containing serum for at least a week post-procedure to will expedite healing time and encourage collagen production. Oh, and also make sure to stay out of the sun and keep your skin super-hydrated.
How to Micro-Needle at Home
"At-home dermarollers (aka micro-needling tools) are safe, effective, and meant to be used daily with serums to correct and treat skin concerns including dryness, dark spots, and fine lines," says Benjamin. And it's actually super easy. We recommend checking out Benjamin's helpful how-to video here, but you can also follow her simple instructions as follows…
1. Cleanse your skin and pat dry.
2. Apply a layer of serum, and then gently roll your device over the skin vertically, horizontally and diagonally, going over each side of the face, your chin, your lips, and your forehead and neck.
3. Lastly, finish with another layer of serum and top that with your favorite moisturizer.
A parting tip from Benjamin? If you're using your roller as directed, make sure you replace the roller every month or so, and don't forget to disinfect it after each use by spraying rubbing alcohol on the needles and replacing the cover for maximum hygiene and safety.