BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
Expert Shopper
Beyond reviews, our team aims to provide you with useful, compelling, and fun how-to guides, gift ideas, and deep dives into trendy products consumers like you love. Here are our latest articles.

BestReviews skin care expert weighs in on microneedling and if it is safe to do at home

Microneedling is one of the most popular procedures at dermatology and cosmetic surgery practices, and for good reason. When performed correctly, microneedling can minimize the appearance of imperfections, such as wrinkles and scars, and improve skin's tone and texture. In fact, the fanfare around the procedure has inspired beauty companies to offer at-home microneedling devices. But it's important to be aware of the pitfalls before performing this treatment on yourself.

To help you make informed decisions on microneedling, we turned to BestReviews skin care expert Alina Zufall, M.D.  

In this article: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser, CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser and EltaMD Skin Recovery Face Serum.

What is microneedling?

The name may invoke visions of tiny needles that help perfect the skin, but the process is more complicated than that, Zufall said. It involves using many small needles to penetrate the skin, forming “microchannels."

"For scar treatment, it is thought to work by breaking apart compact collagen in scars while also inducing new collagen and elastin production underneath the scar to improve the appearance," Zufall said. "It works through a similar mechanism in the treatment of wrinkles by inducing collagen formation that will then 'fill in' the existing wrinkle. Because the needles make little channels, the procedure can also be used to enhance the penetration of topical medications into the skin."

Should I try microneedling at home?

There's no shortage of microneedling devices to purchase for use at home. However, Zufall warns that many of these products are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Devices for home use should not have needles over three-tenths of a millimeter in size. Devices with longer needles are marketed to the public, but she advises not to use them because "serious side effects" could occur. "With a dermatologist, up to 3-millimeter needles can be used to target certain conditions, which can cause real damage in the hands of a novice," Zufall said. "We are also able to adjust the depth of the needle over certain locations to prevent damage to underlying structures."  

Dermarollers are devices that are covered in numerous small needles, which Zufall said are generally safe to use at home but not risk-free. "It can help your serums and treatments to penetrate further in the skin when applied after microneedling," she said, adding that exfoliation may also occur, but the needle length won't stimulate collagen. "Because the benefits of microneedling at this depth are minimal, one could argue that the risks outweigh the benefits, and it is better just to have the procedure performed by a professional." 

Reasons to avoid at-home microneedling, according to BestReviews skin care expert

  • You have an active infection (such as a cold sore): You can spread this infection if you drag the needles over the infected area, then penetrate the skin with the same needles in a new location.
  • You have active acne bumps from inflammatory acne or rosacea: Microneedling over these areas can lead to the development of deeper infection pockets under the skin. It can also cause increased inflammation and more breakouts.
  • You have a history of keloids: If you have ever developed a keloid (a thick, overgrown scar), you're at risk of developing more when traumatizing the skin.
  • You are immunosuppressed: If you take medicine that dampens your immune system or you have active cancer, it is best to avoid microneedling at home due to increased risk of infection.
  • You have eczema or psoriasis: These conditions can affect your skin barrier and irritating it further with microneedling could lead to more flares of your condition.  
  • You have a darker skin tone: Trauma to darker skin can put you at risk for hyperpigmentation. 

Home microneedling safety

If you intend to try microneedling, also called dermarolling, at home, following Zufall's safety tips will help prevent unwanted outcomes.

  • Choose a roller with needles no longer than two-tenths to three-tenths of a millimeter.
  • Choose a roller with titanium or stainless steel needles. Titanium needles are strongest, while stainless steel ones are sharper and more hypoallergenic. 
  • Replace the device frequently to avoid dull needles that can damage the skin. 
  • Cleanse your face before use.
  • Using light pressure, maneuver the device at a 90-degree angle. 
  • Do the procedure only once or twice a week.
  • Use the dermaroller at night. 
  • Apply a serum or gel after your sessions. Products for sensitive skin are best for those who are prone to irritation. 
  • Make sure in advance that you don't have a negative reaction to the serum or gel. Test it on your skin for several days before using with microneedling to ensure you have no irritation or sensitivity.
  • Clean your device with 70% isopropyl alcohol after use, and dry it thoroughly. 
  • Wear sunscreen to protect your skin. 
  • Never microneedle if you have breakouts, irritation, infection, hyperpigmentation or other active skin conditions. 

Best products to use when microneedling at home

Top cleansers to use before the procedure

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser

La Roche-Posay's gentle hydrating cleanser is ideal for sensitive skin, as it's made without soap, fragrance or sulfates. The creamy formula cleans without stripping skin of important natural oils and contains ceramides that are nourishing and protective. 

Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

Created by dermatologists, this gentle cleanser does a good job cleaning the skin without causing irritation or aggravating acne or eczema. Because it's formulated with ceramides that promote moisture, it keeps skin soft and hydrated. 

Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser

This is another excellent facial cleanser to use before home dermarolling, as it's made with ingredients that are gentle on the skin. The lack of harsh additives, including fragrance, preservatives, parabens and dyes, make it suitable for people who are prone to skin irritation. 

Sold by iHerb and Amazon

Aveeno Calm and Restore Nourishing Oat Cleanser

Unlike other cleansers, this contains oat milk that calms skin and protects against irritation. The lightweight consistency makes it a go-to cleanser for daily use. It's also free of harsh ingredients, such as parabens, fragrance, sulfates, alcohol and dyes. 

Sold by Ulta Beauty and Amazon

Top serums to use after the procedure

La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum

This paraben-free serum is made to be gentle on sensitive skin, as it contains soothing vitamin B5. What's more, it's packed with hyaluronic acid in a rich yet lightweight consistency that locks in moisture for skin that's dewy soft. 

Sold by Ulta Beauty

Paula's Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster

Infused with ceramides, Paula's Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster hydrates skin and locks in moisture. The formula works well for all types of skin, including sensitive. It's also fragrance-free. 

Sold by Sephora and Amazon

Vichy Mineral 89 Serum

Natural volcanic water gives Mineral 89 skin-plumping power that lends skin a fresh, moisturized appearance. This vegan serum is made with hyaluronic acid that seals moisture into the skin. 

Sold by Ulta Beauty and Amazon

CeraVe Hyaluronic Acid Serum

This soothing serum improves skin's natural moisture barrier throught three key ingredients: hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5 and ceramides. Reviewers rave that their skin is smoother after repeated use. Not containing fragrances makes it suitable for sensitive skin. 

Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

EltaMD Skin Recovery Face Serum

This is made with amino acids, vitamin B5 and antioxidants, so it's suitable for use after procedures. It also contains hyaluronic acid that seals in moisture and hydrates the skin.  The formula is unscented, another bonus for those with sensitive skin. 

Sold by Amazon 

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum

Although this serum contains skin-loving hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 that work together to moisturize skin, its price is surprisingly low. It has received numerous five-star ratings for its effectiveness and value. 

Sold by Kohl's, Sephora and Ulta Beauty


Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Jennifer Manfrin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

Share this post: