September 16th 2021
The skincare to use when you’re microneedling (and what to avoid)
November 15th 2021 / 0 comment
It’s the collagen-boosting treatment that derms swear by, but the skincare you use before after microneedling could make all the difference between smooth and 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, celebrity facialist Teresa Tarmey’s Microneedling Kit, a snip at £220, is consistently a best-seller on Net-A-Porter and at Space NK. In-clinic medical microneedling treatments such as Morpheus8 and Profound, which add radiofrequency to the micronnedling mix, are booming too.
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”.
In-clinic microneedling has longer needles to reach the dermis where the blood and nerves reside and collagen formation happens - you may well bleed a little and you'll definitely need numbing cream. At-home needling penetrates only as far as the epidermis and feels mildly prickly. It won't have the collagen-stimulating effect, but is a great penetration enhancer that allows your skincare to work that much harder through the microchannels you have created. These channels allow for "up to 300 per cent greater skincare absorption” according to independent nurse prescriber and founder of Face the Future Kate Bancroft.
These skincare superhighways stay open for five minutes, adds Jamie O'Banion, founder of BeautyBio. This is your golden window for getting your actives to the deeper layers of your skin. In 2016 hers was the first company to develop a patented at-home microneedling tool, the GloPro, £199. A roller with 0.1 to 0.3mm needles is generally a good place to start. The GloPro comes with an 0.3mm head and you can buy add-on microneedling heads for the lips, eyes, scalp and body with the apporpriate needle depths.
All is not lost on the collagen front, as at-home mcroneedling can help those products that do have a collagen-stimulating effect, such as peptides which act a signalling moelcules, work their magic. Teresa Tarmey's Microneedling Kit, for example, comes with an 0.2mm Original Derma Roller HC902 and doses of her powerful Peptide Treatment.
Microneedling advocate and founder of Zenii skincare Dr Johanna Ward, makes both a 0.3mm and a 0.5mm at-home Radiance Roller (£40 and £60) roller and adds that at-home needling is great for brightening and oxygenatiing the skin. She uses is with all the skincare power players: retinol, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and peptides. Watch her live demo and microneedling 101 explainer below.
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Others are a little less gung-ho. Skincare founder and formulator Paula Begoun is cautious about 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 rubbing alcohol and leave it to air dry before storing it in a sterile environment or spritz it with the aesthetician's favourite sanitizer Clinisept Plus, £12.06). Be careful not to overdo it (three times a week is plenty) to see benefits, as beauty editor Jane Druker did with Beauty Bio's GloPro Microneedling Regeneration Tool.
Dr Ward remids us that a standard dermaroller such as hers should be discarded after 12 to 15 uses as the needles can blunt which, will make them less effective and portentially damaging.
In summary, your choice of products is key. They should be effective but not irritate.
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Should you needle in your skincare of apply it afterwards? Dr Jo says you can do either; she prefers to add hers afterwards. The new FaceGym Face Shot microneedling pen loved by GTG staffer Catherine Fulwood, even dispenses a glycoloc serum as you needle.
The skincare you use post microneedling is important if your skin feels be sensitised from the deliberate trauma. If you've had it done in clinic with an electronic device, your practitioner will advise on - and mostly likely send you home with - a specific post-microneedling skincare regime involving an antibacterial celanser and a gentle anti-inflammatory moisturiser and suncream to follow for at least 24 hours.
Microneedling causes temporary injury to the skin barrier and as you heal, your skin barrier is more vulnerable to potentially sensitising ingredients such as fragrance, acids and retinoids so choosing the right formulae is key.
Without further ado, here are your microneedling must-haves, and the skincare to dodge for the time being.
The microneedling skincare good guys
Skin prep pads and sprays
If you are doing microneedling at home, a clean tool and a clean canvas are your first priority. Cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser and then give it a wipe over with an anti-microbial mist or pad. Your hero here is Clinisept Plus, £12.06, a spray that you can use on skin as well as to sterilize your microneedling tool before and after you use it. It's incredibly gentle amd alcohol-free.
Another top choice, these pads are specifically for use before microneedling. They are alcohol-free with a sterilising peptide complex called 'steriglo' and numerous gentle healing ingredients. They are a favourite with Get The Gloss' Editorial Director Victoria Woodhall who microneedles regularly.
"I use all Beauty Bio's products," she says. "Microneedling can be quite daunting at first, so I went with a trusted specialist microneedling skincare brand who independently test their products and have years of experience with at-home microneedling. I've never had an adverse reaction. In fact, my skin absolutely drinks in their serums after I have needled and I get results faster as needling helps with product penetration."
Good old HA to the rescue once again. Kate explains why hyaluronic acid is 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 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 post microneedling. Your skin can feel a little tight and dry afterwards and HA will restore suppleness once more.
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.
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.
If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to 60 quid for a serum, this high street hyaluronic alternative will strengthen the skin on a relative shoestring.
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
As always opt for a fragrance-free formula that doesn’t incorporate potentially reactive ingredients. For high-end, If you’re after a single purse-friendly peptide…
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.
An absolute winner, theis 30pe rcent peptide complex has the collagen stimulating peptide Matrixyl 300 and well as Agirelox, which fminimises mucel contactions to help feeze lines.
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.
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. Great for a post slinic treatment althoguh check with yoru practitioner.
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 your face is feeling chafed, it could promote healing by the same rashy logic.
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.
This should go without saying for daily life really, but suncream is especially non-negotiable post-microneedling especially if done in-clinic (your aesthetician should put some on you as you leave) 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.
The skincare to be careful with
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 an option to approach with caution as far as microneedling goes. Kate warns that retinol can be too strong a skincare addition post-microneedling, although Johanna Ward is a fan. Our advice, definitey avoid after a clinic treatmnet until advised by your practitioner. If you use a strong retinol at home try a patch test first. If your retinol doesn't cause you sensitivity ordinarily, microneedling can help it work harder.
Victoria swears by Beauty Bio's The Nightly which contains deep release retinol that doesn't irritate the surface layers, is combined with peptides and comes dfrom a microneedling specialist brand
Some dermatologists are on the fence as to whether you should introduce a vitamin C serum into a microneedling regime as high-strength vitamin C serums are increasingly popular and they can sting. Always patch test any vitamin C treatment you intend to use in conjunction with microneedling.
Vitamin C is usually deployed in the form of an acid (ascorbic acid on the label). Look for gentler vitamin C derivatives such as magnesium ascorbyl phosphate or brands trageted at sensitive skin if you are unsure.
A five per cent vitamin C serum designed for sensnitve skin with zinc to clam and inporve the absorption of vitamin C.
Look for the water-based form of vitamin C, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, which is non-acidic and generally more suitable for sensitive skins. Beauty Bio's The Daily, £63 has it, likewise The Ordinary's Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphat, £7.80 10% is often sold out, but worth joining the waitlist for restock.
Dr Esho states that, in a perfect world, you’d avoid makeup for 24 hours after a clinic microneedling treatment to avoid congestion and possible irritation. If this simply isn’t feasible (we're with you there!), try a makeup brand designed specifically with sensitive skin in mind to minimise the likelihood of flare-ups. Victoria, a regular at-home microneedler, adds that in her experience applying makeup half an hour after home treatment has not caused any reaction. After receiving the Morpheus8 miconeedling treatment with Dr David Jack, he advised no makeup for 24 hours.
The microneedling skincare no-nos
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.