Nicola Russell has been a skin therapist for over 18 years. She has trained with some of the industry’s biggest skincare brands but now works with ZO Skin Health. She owns Skin Geek and Skin Geek Training Academy in Falkirk, Scotland, and specialises in teaching dermaplaning and microneedling . She has also developed her own range of skincare products and tools to complement these treatments.
Some skin professionals don’t agree with clients needling themselves at home. Why do you think this is?
“It’s crucial that clients and patients understand the difference between at-home microneedling and professional microneedling to ensure they are getting the best results for their skin, safely. “Unfortunately, microneedling rollers are easy to order online and clients can get their hands on professional-grade devices, and this is where the problem lies – they can end up doing more damage than good with a too aggressive tool. Another issue is the products they are using alongside their microneedling. “In an ideal world clients would use an appropriate serum that they have been recommended from their skincare professional but again, unfortunately this isn’t always the case and some clients will use any old product with a needling device, pushing it deeper into the skin without it necessarily being suitable for use in this way.”
Is home needling suitable for everyone?
“At-home microneedling should never be done on irritated or infected skin, active acne, skin cancers, keloid scars or on anyone undergoing high doses of oral or topical vitamin A, chemotherapy or radiotherapy. On the other hand, it can be great for any client looking to get maximum absorption from the appropriate serums and those that want to maintain results between professional treatments. If carried out at the correct depth and with appropriate products, then I believe home microneedling is great as regular skin maintenance.”
What type of device should be used at home?
“There is definitely a risk of doing more harm than good if clients don’t stick to the appropriate needle depth. They run the risk of infection, irritation, inflammation and even loss of collagen. I recommend only microneedling rollers with a needle depth of 0.25mm for at-home use, not an electronic microneedling device. 0.25mm will only penetrate the upper layers of the epidermis, while anything above 0.5mm is risky as this will penetrate the dermis and should therefore only be carried out in a sterile environment by a professional.
“If you advocate at-home microneedling in your clients’ or patients’ treatment plans, ensure you provide them with a roller from a reputable company. Rollers are designed to be used by one person and sterlised after each use with 70% isopropyl alcohol. How often it should be replaced depends on how often it is used, but if a client is using their roller three to four times a week then I’d be replacing it every six weeks. They should never be looking to draw blood in an at-home needling treatment. This would indicate that they are being too aggressive or more than likely, they’re using a professional or medicalgrade roller. It is however normal for the skin to appear temporarily pink.”
What about topical products?
“During a professional treatment, a high quality, sterile serum will be used. Most serums used at home may not be suitable to absorb into the dermis, if the client is using too high a needle depth. My favourite type of serum is and always has been a hyaluronic acid because of its ability to attract and hold large amounts of moisture within the skin. “It is essential for moisture retention and suitable for everyone. Using a good quality HA serum with their roller will ensure the at-home treatment is safe, and you can then advise clients on other ingredients that could be used with the roller to support their skin goals.
“My general advice to my own clients is as follows:
1. The treatment should only take a few minutes to do. Thoroughly cleanse the skin to remove make-up, oils and impurities
2. Apply a small amount of the appropriate serum to the face
3. Gently roll over the skin vertically, horizontally and diagonally in small sections at a time, applying a small amount of serum again as you go
4. After use, ensure you sterilise the roller with isopropyl alcohol (I developed my own Skin Geek Microneedling Roller Spray, which contains full usage directions)
5. Return the roller to its case to keep it clean and protected.”