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The skincare to use when you’re microneedling (and what to avoid)

April 25th 2019 / Anna Hunter / 0 comment


It’s the collagen boosting treatment that derms swear by, but the skincare you use before, during and after microneedling could make all the difference between smooth or sore. Here’s what you need and what you really don’t…

Whether at-home or in clinic, microneedling has gone macro in beautyland. Treatwell recently reported a 127 per cent jump in demand for microneedling treatments, while Net A Porter revealed earlier this year that celebrity facialist Teresa Tarmey’s Microneedling Kit, a snip at £350, is consistently within the top five best selling facial tools onsite.


In case you’re yet to go under the needle (FYI, it’s non-invasive and uncomfortable rather than excruciating), here’s the general idea according to award-winning cosmetic doctor and founder of the Esho clinic Dr Tijion Esho:

“Microneedling is a medical procedure using small needles to make micro injuries to stimulate collagen production in the skin.”

Microneedling doesn’t just give collagen synthesis a kick up the bum either - it’s consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk’s go-to treatment “for improving acne scarring” and it’s one of her favourite facial rejuvenation options as “it’s effective, low risk and incurs minimal downtime”. That is, if you do it right. Many skincare experts such as Paula Begoun don’t advocate at-home microneedling gadgets as you won’t approach treatment with the clinical expertise, hygiene or restraint as a professional, but as long as you keep your device spotlessly clean (wash it in alcohol and leave it to air dry before storing it in a sterile environment) and don’t overdo it (once a week max), you can see benefits as beauty editor Jane Druker did with a GloPRO Microneedling Regeneration Tool, £199.

What’s less often considered, however, is the impact of the skincare you use pre, during and post microneedling. Given that microneedling causes “very small channels in your skin’s layers that allow up to 300 per cent greater skincare absorption” according to independent nurse prescriber and founder of Face the Future Kate Bancroft, it makes sense that any skincare that you apply around or during treatment needs to gentle and restorative rather than overly stimulating. This is especially vital when you bear in mind that microneedling causes temporary injury to the skin barrier. The end goal is to kickstart your skin’s reparative mechanisms to rev up collagen and elastin production, but as you skin heals your skin barrier is more vulnerable to potentially sensitising ingredients. Without further ado, here’s your microneedling must-haves, and the skincare to dodge for the time being.

The microneedling skincare good guys

Hyaluronic acid

Good old HA to the rescue once again - Kate explains why hyaluronic acid is a such a hero for the microneedlers among you:

Hyaluronic acid is the ultimate ingredient to look out for and apply post-microneedling. Choose a product with multi-molecular weight hyaluronic acid (I love Mesoestetic HA Densimatrix, £69.99), which is a hyaluronic acid concentrate containing several forms and molecular weights of the moisture binding molecule to maximise penetration and absorption.”

Given that hyaluronic acid is a hydrating ingredient that replenishes skin, it’s just what the derm ordered, and the microneedling process will optimise product absorption to maximise the action of any hyaluronic acid based serum or treatment that you apply pre and post microneedling. Just ensure that hyaluronic acid really is the main player in your serum of choice and that your formula is fragrance free to minimise the risk of irritation.

Try: Skinceuticals Hydrating B5, £65 for 30ml


A cooling, oil-free gel that’s loaded with humectant hyaluronic acid to deeply hydrate without clogging pores. Use while microneedling for softer, smoother skin afterwards and to calm inflammation.

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Vichy 89, £22 for 50ml


If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to sixty quid for a serum, this high street hyaluronic alternative will strengthen skin on a relative shoestring.

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Paula Begoun highlights the fundamental role of peptide proteins:

“Without peptides, skin doesn’t remain intact and the result is loss of firmness, appearance of wrinkles, texture changes, and skin that doesn’t bounce back as it once did.”

Thus bringing peptides into the picture via microneedling has the potential to concentrate their effects, plus they’re generally a ‘skin soothing’ ingredient so unlikely to spike sensitivity, but as always opt for a fragrance-free formula that doesn’t incorporate potentially reactive ingredients. Teresa Tarmey includes a ‘peptide treatment’ as part of her 12 week microneedling kit to “revitalise and replenish skin and also visibly even out skin tone and increase firmness”, but if you’re after a single purse friendly peptide…

Try: The Ordinary Buffet, £12.70 for 30ml


Hydrating glycerin, fortifying amino acid peptides (including the much sought-after collagen accelerator Matrixyl 3000) and a calming, fragrance-free formula all make this a dependable microneedling sidekick.

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Ceramides make up 50 per cent of the uppermost layer of your skin and are the fatty acids that help to both keep the skin barrier intact and help it to hold onto moisture, both of which very much come to the fore when you’re microneedling. For speedy healing and less risk of irritation, ceramides are here for you.

Try: Cerave Moisturising Cream, £4 for 50ml


If your skin errs on the very dry side this budget but brilliant moisturiser is rich, comforting and just the thing for calming sore skin.

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Anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, zinc has been shown to balance the skin’s microbiome and was originally used in ancient Greek wound-healing treatments, so it’s got quite some pedigree where skin soothing is concerned. On a related note it’s also a key ingredient in many nappy creams, so if you’re face is feeling chafed, it could promote healing by the same rashy logic.

Try: Medik8 Ultimate Recovery Bio-Cellulose Mask, £60 for six


Specifically developed for use after treatments such as chemical peels, laser, LED and microneedling, this zinc, hyaluronic acid and calming algae infused sheet mask helps to counteract redness and swelling while physically and literally chilling the skin.

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This should go without saying for daily life really, but SPF is especially non-negotiable post-microneedling as your skin barrier will be more vulnerable to damage. Choose a broad spectrum SPF of at least 30 and ensure you opt for a gentle, fragrance-free formula.

Try: Paula’s Choice Essential Glow Defence Moisturiser SPF 30, £24.65 for 60ml


Lightweight yet hydrating, this antioxidant charged day cream helps to guard skin against free-radical assaults from both UV rays and pollutants, plus it evens out skintone instantly on application to tone down post-treatment redness.

Buy it now

The microneedling skincare no-nos


Vitamin A and its derivatives may be one of the only concretely proven rejuvenating skincare ingredients out there, but retinol's potent, transformative potential makes it a risky option as far as microneedling goes. Kate warns that retinol can be too strong a skincare addition post-microneedling:

“As the process of microneedling creates small channels in the skin it is important not to apply products that could irritate the skin’s deeper layers. For that reason it’s a good idea to avoid vitamin A based skincare straight after microneedling.”

The same goes for...

Strong exfoliating acids

Kate advises going especially easy on AHA acids but BHA and even the milder PHA acids could prove problematic in terms of skin barrier inflammation too directly post-microneedling. Dr Esho recommends giving it at least 48 hours before you dabble in any kind of exfoliant.

Vitamin C

Some dermatologists are on the fence as to whether you should introduce a vitamin C serum into a microneedling regime - on the one hand it allows for greater penetration of one of the most powerful antioxidants and collagen stimulators there is, but on the other vitamin C can be a sensitising skincare component so it’s a risky business. Always patch test any vitamin C treatment you intend to use in conjunction with microneedling well in advance and if in doubt, don’t go there.


Dr Esho states that, in a perfect world, you’d avoid makeup for 24 hours after a microneedling treatment to avoid congestion and possible irritation. If this simply isn’t feasible (with you there), try a makeup brand designed specifically with sensitive skin in mind to minimise the likelihood of flare-ups.

How microneedling actually works

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