not a professional. just crazy.

Pricking My Face With a Derma Roller Really Lightened My Dark Spots

The Ora Derma Roller device.
The derma roller, in all its glory. Photo: Rio Viera-Newton

Friends and readers of the Strategist frequently ask me questions about the derma roller — a device shaped like a quartz roller, with a head covered in hundreds of teeny-tiny — yet still somehow frightening-looking — needles. The needles, when rolled over your face, create little puncture holes meant to help your skin better absorb products, stimulate collagen and elastin production, and treat hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. Basically: After you use it, your skin should appear newly soft, supple, and clear.

I’ve been using a derma roller for about a year — I bought it on a whim after seeing rave reviews for the product on Reddit and YouTube, hoping it could correct some minor hyperpigmentation I’d been unable to rid myself of on my chin.

When buying a derma roller, the first thing you have to consider is the needle size. If you poke around on Amazon, you’ll notice that they come in a variety of sizes: anywhere from 0.2 to 1 millimeter in diameter. I consulted Sofie Pavitt, the owner of Sofie Pavitt Skincare Studio and a true believer in the power of derma rollers, to find out which is best for at-home users. “I recommend a 0.5 mm needle length for at-home treatments,” she said. “It’s enough to encourage collagen production within your skin, and you’ll get great product penetration at that length too.”

I have a 0.5 mm roller — and here’s how I tend to use it. After I apply my Cosrx snail mucin (for my full routine, click here), I roll it over my face for about two minutes. Then I let the product sink in before moving on to my moisturizer. According to Pavitt, this is the right way to do it: “Always derma-roll after you’ve put on your essence or serum,” she said. “That way, it’ll glide over your face easier. Do it once or twice a week, and make sure to roll it in vertical lines, horizontal lines, and diagonal lines on each area of your face.” Afterwards, I clean it with an alcohol spray, and then put on an SPF. “SPF is very important after using the derma roller,” Sofie said. “Since you’ve “injured” the skin, SPF will make sure you don’t get hyperpigmentation when you go outside.”

I truly feel like the derma roller and Cosrx snail-mucin combo has helped with the hyperpigmentation on my chin. It used to look like a constant shadow on my chin and now you’d barely notice it, even when I’m not wearing makeup. Other friends have reported a crazy change in the plumpness of their skin — that derma-rolling in the extra essence from a collagen sheet mask had taken their skin to next-level baby status. And if you’re a reddit reader, then I’m sure you’ve seen the crazy before-and-afters about overall texture and brightness on r/skincareaddiction.

It may look like a medieval torture device, but I can promise from firsthand experience that it’s actually a nice, gentle way to take care of issues that just can’t be solved even with the best vitamin C serum.

Ora Face Microneedle Dermal Roller System
$30 at Dermstore

This is my beloved derma roller. Its 0.5 mm micro-needle glides over the skin super painlessly. It also comes with a case to ensure that your tool stays as clean as possible.

Stacked Skincare Micro-Roller
$30 at Urban Outfitters

This 0.2 mm micro-needle is the smallest possible length, perfect for beginners who want to give micro-needling a try. This will really only work in terms of getting products to penetrate deeper into your skin — as far as hyperpigmentation goes, you’ll likely need to level up to 0.5 mm in order to see real results.

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The Prickly Device That Saved My Skin From Dark Spots