A procedure that is gaining widespread attention in the skin care industry is at home microneedling especially with derma pens. But if the idea of sticking needles into your face sounds scary, you are probably like most people and want to learn a little more. With lots of information available online, this topic can get overwhelming fast. So for this post, we tapped into experts to focus on whats important when it comes to the best at home microneedling pens.
This guide will help answer all your questions about at home microneedling pens – from the basics of microneedling at home to the best derma pens available on the market today.
If you have already done your research and simply want to know the best microneedling pen on the market, then here you go. The chart below summarizes our unbiased and comprehensive review of home microneedling machines.
What is Microneedling?
So, what exactly is microneedling? Sometimes called collagen induction therapy, it’s a procedure that involves the use of a roller or specialized pen/stamp with multiple tiny needles. Each of the sterile and stainless steel needles repeatedly puncture the skin to cause a controlled injury or minor physical trauma to the epidermis (outer layers of skin) and dermis, (thick layer of living tissue below the epidermis).
This disturbance triggers a healing response in the skin, which increases the rate at which skin cells proliferate and renew. It also enhances the skin’s own natural collagen and elastin production, and improves the overall quality of the derma. Microneedling can be used to treat a variety of skin concerns and conditions such as following:
- Superficial fine lines
- Deep wrinkles
- Acne scarring
- Alopecia (partial or complete absence of hair)
- Hyperpigmentation (an over-abundance of skin pigment)
- Stretch marks or loose skin. A good example of this is someone has significant weight loss or a liposuction procedure.
Microneedling also been proven to encourage skin rejuvenation and regeneration. It also works amazingly well as an aid to deeper product absorption for topical skin products and medications, such as tretinoin (retinol/vitamin A) and vitamin C.
How does Microneedling At Home work?
The increasing popularity of microneedling procedures in a day spa, medical spa or dermatologist’s office has created a market for similar products for home use. But understanding how to properly use these devices at home is crucial to achieving the best, most esthetically pleasing and sustainable results in safe way.
If you have done any research on microneedling in the past, you may have learned that there are different types of needling tools, each with its own claim to deliver the best results. Microneedling can be performed with a derma pen, (sometimes referred to as a derma stamp), or a derma roller. These are all typically hand-held devices unless stated otherwise. The pens or stamps, and rollers are usually manufactured so you can adjust the length of the needles.
Most commonly, the needles will vary from 0.5-1.0 mm for an at-home microneedling device. These are best suited for smaller areas of the face, i.e., the nasolabial folds between the nose and mouth, around the lip area, and between the eye brows. It is generally believed that the use of pens/stamps is much more comfortable than a roller, which is designed to have a greater number of needles and is used for larger areas of the face, like the cheeks or forehead.
Difference between Microneedling Pen vs. Roller
The two main categories of home microneedling devices are pens/stamps, and rollers. Depending on the brand of pen used at home, they can offer significantly better results than a roller for several reasons:
- The oscillation of certain pens is faster than that of a standard roller. Faster oscillation allows the tool to guide more effortlessly across the skin, minimizing any tearing or damage.
- Skin penetration is more efficient and therefore more effective than traditional rollers
- And results are more consistent than with a roller, even when the latter is used in conjunction with professionally administered laser treatments for increased collagen production.
There are obvious differences in the size of pens and rollers for home use; the larger the tool, the greater the area that can be treated. Smaller tools are great for the face and small areas around the body that require treatment, i.e. stretch marks and localized acne scars on the shoulders. Larger tools are specialized for larger treatment areas, like the back, torso, thighs, and back of the legs.
At Home Microneedling vs. Professional Spa/Salon
In order to understand how microneedling can benefit your skin, it’s important to grasp the difference between the two types of microneedling: cosmetic and medical.
Cosmetic needling uses short needles to make microscopic perforations in the skin which elicits superficial collagen production and promotes skin cells to turn over at a faster rate than they would naturally without treatment. Generally speaking, at-home microneedling devices are of the cosmetic variety. Medical needling is similar to cosmetic, however, the needles in a professional device are longer to penetrate deeper into the dermis (1.5-2.0 mm), and the service is performed by a licensed esthetician or dermatologist in a controlled, sterile environment, with more effective and efficient results over time.
How often can you Microneedle At Home?
The frequency at which the user may safely perform an at-home needling procedure depends on the length of the needles and your skin’s own sensitivity. The shortest needles will allow the user to safely proceed as often as every other day, while medical needling requires more time in between treatments; sometimes three to four weeks apart or longer, depending on what products are used during the treatment to absorb deeply into the skin. A consumer using an at-home needling device should not expect the same results, nor within the same time frame as someone who consistently frequents a licensed professional for a medical needling procedure.
Can you Microneedle for Acnes and Stretch Marks At Home?
There is science behind the ability of microneedling to improve collagen production and fade scarring associated with acne and stretch marks. The tiny puncture wounds created by the pen are sometimes referred to as micro channels. During treatment, these channels fill with semi-liquid scar tissue, blood, and nutrients. The skin will utilize the unaffected tissue adjacent to each opening as a template for building new, healthy skin cells.
Simultaneously, collagen production will increase as a natural response to skin trauma. Each treated area of the skin can have as many as 100 tiny channels which penetrate a pre-determined number of millimeters into the skin, depending on the tool that is being used. As these channels heal, skin tone and texture improve, causing acne scarring and stretch marks to be much less noticeable having been replaced with new, healthy skin cells.
It is not advised to perform a microneedling procedure on skin with active cystic acne or pustules, severe rosacea, open wounds, or irritated skin as the device may cause the spread of bacteria and infection across the face.
Is Microneedling At Home painful?
You may be thinking…with all that I’m reading about stainless steel needles, punctures to the skin, controlled injury and skin trauma, microneedling can’t possibly be painless! Well, the answer to whether or not this procedure causes pain is subjective.
At-home needling pens are shorter and don’t puncture the skin as deeply as professional needling, but keep in mind there is likely to be some level of discomfort, depending on the aggressiveness of the treatment. Bleeding is common during these procedures and can be heavier when administered by a licensed professional. Often, your esthetician or dermatologist will apply a topical numbing crème before using the needling device, to decrease sensitivity and discomfort throughout the treatment and after.
Whether at home or in a professional environment, the skin should be cleansed prior to needling with a gentle cleanser, that leaves no residue on the skin.
Choosing the Best At Home Microneedling Pens
With so many microneedling devices available for home use, choosing the right microneedling pen or stamp or roller seems daunting. However, there are some things that fairly standard across most devices. Most at-home microneedling tools are easy to use and include the following:
- A hand-held pen/stamp, or roller
- Sterile cartridges with needles in a 12 or 16 pattern
- Directions for use
- Batteries or USB charger
Some of the higher end products also include moisturizer, repair serum, and/or topical vitamin C. Look for products that are returnable with a warranty, as it may take a few sessions to know whether its right for you. Cartridges should be disposable, and you might want to make sure the company offers customer support for trouble shooting, if need be.
How much do Microneedling Pens cost?
The cost of these devices varies greatly and depends on what is included in the kit. I have seen just the stand-alone hand-held roller for as little as $30, I have seen kits that include many multiple disposable cartridges for $75-$100, and I have seen kits that only include a roller and a variety of expensive topical products to use in conjunction for upwards of $500. As with any at-home device or product, purchase the best quality that your budget will allow, keeping in mind that the more items included in your kit, the more the overall cost will increase, exponentially. So, choose wisely what is best for your budget and skin care needs.
How easy are they to use?
Whichever microneedling device you choose for at-home use, follow the directions on the packaging very closely, and remember….more isn’t necessarily more with skin care!! It took years for your skin to tell you it’s ready for an overhaul, and it will take some time to achieve the results you’re looking for so be patient and go slowly at first.
Best At Home Microneedling Pens Review
Dr Pen is on the pioneers in the home microneedling space so it should come as no surprise that we have featured 2 of their products on our top products list. With countless studies and reviews, Dr Pen has built a strong reputation in this space and has continued to innovate on it products.
The Ultima A6 is one their best selling designs with a cordless operation for quick results when it comes to common skin conditions. One of the really nice features is the upgraded bayonet head which makes it really easy to insert the cartridge and hold it in place during use.
With all the standard features such as adustable speed and very premium design, this is one of the smartest choices for beginners.
The Angel Kiss brand is a newer entrant in the space and their A9 product is an all around versatile device that is suitable for beginners and experts alike. The cordless operation is a huge plus and the size of the needles makes it ideal for use on the face, forehead and neck.
One of the things to highlight is that from a power standpoint, the Angel Kiss A9 packs a punch. The adjustable speed goes from 0-5 which translates into 7,000-12,000 RPM (rotations per minute). This allows for an effortless glide across the skin with high efficacy. The twist and lock connector gets high marks for ease of use and stability and the replacement cartridges are easy to insert and remove.
The Ultima M8 model is the latest iteration from Dr Pen and comes loaded with newer features to make home microneedling easier for the average user. A few of these, including the upgraded connector and the new smaller diameter needles are exclusive to this model and recieve high marks from us. Here is our list of the top new additions to M8
- Higher speed that goes up to 6 as well as a digital display that makes it easy to read and adjust
- New needle design that lowers the diameter from 0.25mm to 0.18mm. These are now available in a 16 needle cartridge
- Ergonomic, anti-skid design along with upgraded connnector for the most stability out of all the models tested
The newest brand on this list, the PIPM product frankly blew us away. It is feature-rich and includes all the the latest techonology at an affordable price.
This model includes all the standard stuff such as adjustable needles and adjustable speed but we love the thoughtful design starting with an easy-to-read digital display that is only available on the higher end M8 above. The connected is a very secure screw designt that locks cartridges in place.
Another really interesting addition is the LED light. The LED can be turned to either Blue or Red depending on what skin treatment is being done. While we are a little skeptical on the long lasting efficacy, a lot of the reviewers really appreciated having it included.
All in all, this is a great new product that punches above its weight despite being the newest addition to this list.