July 14th 2021
The skincare to use when you’re microneedling (and what to avoid)
April 28th 2020 / 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 £350, is consistently a best-seller.
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”.
While in-clinic microneedling has longer needles to reach the dermis (where the blood and nerves reside) and needs numbing cream, at-home needling only penetrates as far as the epidermis and feels mildly prickly, so there's less risk of sensitivity from the skincare you use. But caution is still advised.
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, £14.99) and don’t overdo it (three times a week is fine), you can see benefits, as beauty editor Jane Druker did with Beauty Bio's GloPro Microneedling Regeneration Tool, £199.
Microneedling has double whammy benefit to add to collagen stimulation, namely that it allows your skincare to penetrate that much deeper through the microchannels you have created, allowing for "up to 300 per cent greater skincare absorption” according to independent nurse prescriber and founder of Face the Future Kate Bancroft, so your choice of products is key. They should be effective but not irritate.
These channels stay open for five minutes, adds Jamie O'Banion, founder of BeautyBio. In 2016 hers was the first company to develop a patented at-home microneedling tool, the GloPro.This is your golden window for getting your actives to the deeper layers of your skin. A roller with 0.1 to 0.3mm needles is generally a good place to start.
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The skincare you use post microneedling is important, given that your skin may be sensitised from the deliberate trauma, especially if you've had it done in clinic. 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, £14.99, 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 and also comes in pump form Clinisept Prep and Procedure £19.99.
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 every day.
"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 micro-needling. 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 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 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 sixty 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. 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…
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.
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.
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
“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.” However...
That may be true for the more invasive medical needling done by an aesthetic doctor (who will advise on your post-treatment skincare) at-home needling can work well in combination with retinol. As ever, a patch test is advised. Victoria swears by Beauty Bio's The Nightly which contains deep release retinol that doesn't irritate the surface layers and is combined with peptides.
Some dermatologists are on the fence as to whether you should introduce a vitamin C serum into a microneedling regime. Always patch test any vitamin C treatment you intend to use in conjunction with microneedling well in advance.
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 ingredient as it's usually deployed in the form of an acid (ascorbic acid on the label). But there's another option...
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, £75 has it, likewise The Ordinary's Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 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 (with you there), try a makeup brand designed specifically with sensitive skin in mind to minimise the likelihood of flare-ups. Our Editorial Director Victoria, a regular at-home microneedler, adds that in her experience applying makeup half an hour afterwards has not caused any reaction.
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.