beauty

From the pain to the results: every question you have about skin needling, answered.

I've been getting skin needling treatments for about a year now, and every time I post about it on my Instagram, my DM floods with questions. So I thought I'd collate all the common questions my curious little skin enthusiasts have, to create a one-stop FAQ for all things needling.

Watch: Seven ways to improve your skin while sleeping. Post continues below.


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WTF is skin needling? 

It's a non-invasive treatment where the upper dermal layer is punctured with tiny needles, creating micro-wounds just beneath the surface of the skin. This process causes the body to generate a surge of collagen and elastin, which are the two primary elements of skin production (that heal and renew the skin). This effectively kick-starts your skin's rejuvenation and cell turnover.

Simply put, the treatment involves putting teeny tiny needles in your face to encourage the body's healing response - the result of which is fresh, glowy skin.

What's the difference between derma-rolling and skin needling? 

They're essentially the same treatment with a few key differences, resulting in varying levels of effectiveness.  

Derma-rolling (as the name suggests) uses a hand-held device that requires a 'roll-on' method to administer. This is also the device people like to use at home, given they offer a much less invasive treatment. 

Skin needling is generally done using a dermapen. This needs to be done by a qualified skin therapist or nurse as the needle depth can go up to 1.9mm (your at-home derma roller should be 0.3mm).

What does it do for your skin? 

It stimulates the production of your collagen (the stuff babies have bucketloads of, which is WILDLY unfair), encouraging smoother and healthier skin. It can also help reduce acne scarring, stretch marks, fine lines, pigmentation, enlarged pores, blackheads and scarring.

What happens in an appointment?

The appointment goes for about 90 minutes all up. Your skin therapist will cleanse (or double-cleanse in my grubby case) your skin before applying a layer of numbing cream all over your face. While the numbing cream does its magic, my skin therapist generally shapes and tints my brows, which is a bonus given she does a stand-up job. 

After about 20 minutes, you'll be ready for the needling. What looks like a big pen apparatus is turned on and glides across your skin, focusing on one area at a time. Micro-sized needles pierce the upper dermal layer using a spring-loaded system (to ensure a consistent depth throughout the treatment), kick-starting your body's wound healing response, aka the production of collagen and elastin. This part (the actual needling) takes about five minutes. 

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After they're done, you'll go under the Omnilux machine for 20 minutes, which speeds up the healing process. The Omnilux feels like you're sunbaking in the European summer, which is glorious. They put little goggles on your eyes to protect them, but the light can still be a bit uncomfortable until your eyes adjust. My therapist always gives me a lovely massage while I'm under the light, so I often nod off. 

Image: Supplied.

After that's done, they'll pop on some hyaluronic acid and a recovery cream, before sending you out into the world to scare small children with a VERY red face. 

Does it hurt? Be honest.

Extractions hurt me more. Honestly, it doesn't hurt a bit. I chat the whole time and can barely feel she's touching my face in certain areas. Areas with less fat (like my forehead) might be a touch tingly but still nothing too ouchy. Don't ever let someone come near your face with a needling device if they haven't numbed your skin prior. Some therapists skip out on it apparently (it adds 20 minutes to their treatment time), but this is absolutely not ok. 

Will my face bleed? 

Possibly. But coming from someone who hates needles and blood, I promise it's nothing to worry about. I've only bled on days I've been out drinking the night before (alcohol thins your blood), or in some areas when she's using the deeper needles. It's tiny little pinpricks; you won't look like Kim Kardashian after her 'vampire facial', trust me! 

What happens after needling? 

You go outside and scare people. Just joking but you're VERY red and kinda blotchy, so I generally do it later in the afternoon when I won't be seeing anyone afterwards. It starts calming down that night, and you'll just look like you've had a bad sunburn. It can feel like that too so if you're a bit uncomfortable, two Panadol will fix you right up. 

How long do you look like Freddy Krueger?

Immediately after, it lasts for a few hours, and that's it! The next day I'm a bit pink, but it's easy to cover, so you don't need time off work at all. 

Image: Supplied.

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Do you have any tips for dealing with the downtime?

You want to avoid getting hot and sweating; this will make your face redder and feel pretty uncomfortable. Wait 24 hours until you resume your regular skincare routine; the skin therapist should send you home with an aftercare cream or serum to use. 

When your skin starts getting flakey and dry (two to three days after the treatment), don't use anything too harsh to exfoliate. Instead, use a washcloth and warm water in the shower, rubbing the skin in circular motions to remove the dead skin. 

What results should I expect?

GLOWING SKIN! In all seriousness, if you're anything like me, your skin will glow like it's never glowed before. Fresh skin is the bomb. I always get oodles of 'glow' related compliments, starting about a week after treatment. It also helps reduce and smooth fine lines  - many people ask if I've had Botox after a treatment.

While 'the glow' is the primary thing I notice post-needling, I've also seen insane improvements in acne, congestion, pigmentation, and shitty texture on my skin.

How many sessions do I need?

Most therapists will recommend a course of three treatments, four weeks apart initially, and then one treatment every  six months for maintenance. 

Where should I go?

Ask around! If someone you know has had a great experience in your area, ask them and book there. I think that peer reviews are the best when it comes to treatments like this; you don't want to trust someone who has been paid to say it's good, it's needles in your face!

How much is it?

It should be around $300, more if you go somewhere super fancy because you're paying for the rent/marketing. Let's be honest. 

DON'T ever get conned into a discounted needling sesh; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This isn't a treatment you want to skimp on. 

Should I try it?

If you can afford to and have problems with your skin, absolutely. It's hands down the best thing I've ever done for my face.

Feature image: Supplied; Instagram/@kelly_mccarren

Have you tried skin needling? Share your experience with us in the comments!

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