Been a while since I’ve written a protocol! This one is near and dear to me, because I’m using it myself the last few months.
There’s not a ton in the research on reducing fine lines with dermarolling, or on the more holistic anti-aging stuff. It gets mentioned in passing in a lit review or introduction, because everyone seems to agree that it works, but researchers don’t seem all that interested in studying it. So, in the absence of a solid research backing, here’s a strategy that I’ve developed through trial and error.
For me it happened at 27 or so–very minor fine lines that stopped going away. I have an expressive face and a job that requires me to be “on”, so the lines were pretty predictable: shallow, narrow vertical lines across my forehead. Then one by my eyebrows. Then, it was like my undereye circles continued all the way around to the other corner of my eye with the tiniest, narrowest crease. Early aging! They disappeared under makeup primer (I don’t usually wear makeup but I often wear a green-toned primer), but I hated knowing they were there. It happens to all of us eventually, and, real talk, I’m afraid of Botox. I know it’s unreasonable, but I feel like the exact day I get Botox will be the day the news breaks that it causes sinus cancer or something.
I started my dermarolling experiments for fine lines with a 1.5mm roller because I was using it to treat melasma already anyway. It did help, but you can only use a 1.5mm roller once a month, so I felt like I wasn’t getting the full effect. I’ve been much happier with the 0.5mm protocol I describe here.
What you need
- A 0.5mm dermaroller* or dermastamp
- 70% rubbing alcohol (to clean your roller)
- dish soap (to clean your roller)
Optional: (any or none of these)
- hyaluronic acid – small bottle* or large bottle* from a brand I really like, or a hyaluronic acid sheet mask* (you can use what you have but check it for potentially irritating ingredients)
- Vitamin C serum – I am currently using and loving the 40 Carrots Carrot + C serum*, It’s a great inexpensive dupe for the Ole Henrikson Truth Serum*, which I got a sample of but couldn’t justify buying full price. Please note that the 40 Carrots serum contains retinol and is not safe for use by pregnant women–this simple Vitamin C and hylauronic acid serum* is a pregnancy-safe alternative. More about these serums in a minute.
What to do
On the same day each week, use your dermaroller or dermastamp as I describe in this post about how to use a dermaroller. With a 0.5 roller, you may or may not experience bleeding. I usually don’t. So, don’t use pinprick bleeding to decide whether or not you’re done rolling. (However–because you might bleed, it’s still super important to have 100% hygiene with the roller!) I roll my whole face horizontally, then vertically, then go back and roll over just my fine lines an additional time.
After rolling, wash your face again with your gentle cleanser. Use the serum you have chosen–if you’re using both, use the Vitamin C serum first. If you have a typical evening skincare routine, you can continue it after these serums, but skip any acids or active ingredients. Lately I’ve been doing that 40 Carrots serum, then a sheet mask, then the last couple steps of my routine.
About those products
The Vitamin C serum encourages skin turnover, and applying it with microneedling means that it’s reaching more of your skin cells than just the ones on the surface. This increases the efficacy of the active ingredients in the C serum. If you chose the serum that contained retinol, that ingredient will also spur skin turnover. Before you microneedle with Vitamin C for the first time, you should patch test the serum to make sure it won’t irritate your skin.
Hyaluronic acid is soothing and hydrating. It enters the skin and binds with water, yielding happy, plump, hydrated skin. Because the body naturally makes its own hyaluronic acid, there is no fear of a negative reaction in even sensitive skin.
I roll on Monday nights because I tend to be outside a lot on the weekends, and even though I always wear sunscreen I want to give my skin a day to recover. Rolling with the 0.5 mm roller is rarely painful, but I do usually take an advil or have a glass of wine before I do it. I roll my forehead first because it’s the most unpleasant and go on from there.
I’ve been doing the 0.5mm weekly instead of the 1.5mm monthly for about six weeks now, and I’ve found that it’s more effective in this case to use a smaller needle more often. I would guess that this is because I’m not actually having to go too deep to repair scarred skin like I did when I dermarolled my stretch marks–I’m just trying to get new healthy skin to grow where the compressed skin has wrinkled. I also like that rolling more frequently means that I have plump gorgeous day-after-dermarolling skin every week! It helps me imagine what my eventual results will be like.
So, it’s going well! My lines are continuing to fade, and I really feel that the Vitamin C + retinol product has sped that process along. (My derm cleared me for retinoids!) I look visibly younger. I was really disappointed when my melasma really started to fade for real, and when it was gone I didn’t feel like I looked better at all! Suddenly all I could see were the fine lines. So, watching these diminish has made me feel much more in control of my skin.
I hope to write my next protocol on preventative anti-aging for people who got wise earlier than I did and who are looking to stop lines and creases before they appear or as they’re appearing!