Updated: Mar 2
Microneedling put me on the Youtube Map!
Ever since I realized almost 10 years ago that I could buy an actual microneedling (MN) pen and perform collagen induction therapy at home, I was hooked.
As more and more people watch my MN videos, I receive more and more questions regarding this procedure. Although, the extensive catalog of MN videos I have do answer all of these questions, I thought I would write it all down plus create a Microneedling 101 video to try my best to cover all your questions, across multiple mediums. I hope I do a good job:)
WHAT IS MICRONEEDLING?
Microneedling is when little tiny needles are pressed, rolled, or mechanically stabbed into your skin to create trauma. This trauma in turn causes the skin to respond with a building/healing response.
Microneedling, which in our private group, The Natural Kaos APP, we abbreviate to MN, is Collagen Induction Therapy, (CIT). As our skin ages, we look older because the structures, Collagen & Elastin, which made our skin plump, bouncy, smooth, and lifted when we were young, both decline as we age. The act of microneedling stimulates both Collagen and Elastin to rebuild by triggering a healing response.
MICRONEEDLING = MORE COLLAGEN & ELASTIN
When you MN, either with a stamp, a roller, or my choice a pen; you cause controlled trauma to the skin, you are essentially stabbing holes into the Epidermis and Dermis depending on how deep you are MN. This stabbing, can cause bleeding or a sunburn feeling, and although it is not super painful nor hard to do on yourself, this mechanical act of puncturing the skin, will not only help smooth, tighten and plump your skin, it will also help deliver serums deeper into your tissue so that you can actually get the benefits of those expensive ampoules.
WHAT MICRONEEDLING PEN SHOULD I BUY?
I get asked this question nearly everyday:) I have a lot of MN pens, stamps, and rollers. I realize because I have so many of these devices and have used them all, many want me to just tell them which one I think is best.
First, the pen that you can afford is the right one for you. Don't over spend when you are starting out on your DIY Microneedling journey.
Second, I will not speak on rollers and stamps as I don't find them to be as effective as a pen. I like pens because every time I MN I will use a new sterile cartridge. A new sterile cartridge has clean, sharp, and straight pins each and every session; this is extremely important. Bent, spurred, or non-sterile pins being plunged into your face will only open you up to scratches, torn skin and potential infection.
I've been a long time fan of Dr. Pen; I purchased my first Dr. Pen A1 around 2012 and used it for years. Although, I have newer, stronger pens the A1 will always have a place on my tool list because it has given me many good years and good results.
I like this one because it comes with 6, 12 pin cartridges. I will cover cartridges later, but needless to say, this is a good start.
During my past 3 years on Youtube I have amassed a bunch of pens from the above A1, to the A6, A7, M8 and my Illuma Pen. All of these pens are good and you can compare their nuanced differences for yourself here in a collection of these pens. I find that, I reach for either my Dr Pen M8 or my Illuma pen on a regular basis.
I really like my Dr Pen M8. It's dial is very tight so there is no concern of it accidentally twisting to a greater or lesser depth. The drive shaft appears to be stronger, giving me better penetration and less scratching. This device also has a new cartridge, the 16 pin which seems to be a perfect middle ground between a 12 pin and a 36 pin. I will speak more on cartridges later in this post.
The Illuma Pen is my most expensive pen and has the accuracy and motor longevity for professional esthetician’s. The Illuma is a work horse and in comparison to my other pens I can truly feel and notice a difference.
First, I can never dial as deep with my Illuma as I can with my Dr Pens, I believe this speaks to its depth being more accurate. The motor is super fast so I have never noticed any scratching, which can happen with the less costly models. With all of this said, I find the Dr Pen M8 to work the most similarly to my Illuma pen.
STILL... WHICH PEN SHOULD I BUY?
If you are an esthetician looking for a professional microneedling pen, you should consider the Illuma Pen.
If you are a Rebellious Skin Care addict, like me, then you will be very happy with the Dr Pen M8.
The above links go either to Amazon, Ebay or the sellers of the Illuma Pen. I have bought pens from all over the internet and have also been sent some for free. When you click these links I do make affiliate commission with Amazon, Ebay and Illuma.
If you prefer buying directly from the vendor and not third parties I recommend also looking at DR Pen USA. They have been a great support to me and others who have purchased from them, they no longer offer all models on their site but I wanted to make sure you had many options and could reference different prices and models.
WHY ARE THERE DIFFERENT CARTRIDGES?
I get this question daily; and I know as you start looking at pens, the cartridges, and all of their different pins, this topic can become confusing. To further add to this confusion, cartridges are not universal; meaning you can't use cartridges from an A1 on an A6 or M8. Each pen takes its own appropriate cartridges.
I have a blog post that is all about cartridges here
Check out the full post as I think it should help answer the cartridge question.
Quick insight: the less pins the more aggressive, more pins less aggressive
9 & 12 Pin are for scar resurfacing. 16 to 36 Pin is for skin tightening, lightening and overall tone and texture.
CAN I STERILIZE & REUSE CARTRIDGES?
NO, NO & NO!!!
If you are serious about taking care of your skin at home and performing professional protocols on yourself, then please attempt to use a more professional mindset. These cartridges come sealed and sterilized for a reason. First, if you are having this done professionally, then the esthetician or doctors office should show you that they are always using NEW sterilized cartridges. Second, just because you can effectively sterilize a cartridge does not mean it is meant to be used over and over. These cartridges break down during use. The needles can become bent and spurred and finally dull. You do not want to stab yourself with a dull instrument, you want it fresh and sharp. In fact, I use 2 cartridges if I am MN my face plus my neck and chest. This is because I want a nice sharp cartridge and if I dull it while MN tougher skin like my chest and neck, and then move to my face, I will not be giving myself the best outcome. Please do not reuse cartridges, they are not meant to be reused and you will only open yourself up to potential issues.
ALWAYS USE: NEW & CLEAN CARTRIDGES
WHAT DEPTH & SPEED TO USE WHEN MICRONEEDLING?
Depth and Speed are going to be something you need to troubleshoot based on your face or area you are treating. Further, there is a 3rd element to consider and this is you, how fast do you move your pen around? This ultimate factor that cannot be dialed in, is something that you will learn as you use your pen, you will find a rhythm as you glide and this will correlate to both depth and speed.
3 FACTORS: Depth + Speed + Human Movement
The correlation between depth and speed has always been a difficult one for me to sort out, even on some sites they will say the opposite of me, which is fine; I am simply sharing with you my experiences which lead to my conclusion. Again, this is my opinion...
If we use the Dr Pen M8 as the example, this pen spans a depth range of 0 - 2.5mm deep, and has a speed range of 1- 6, 1 being the slowest and 6 being the fastest.
If you want to MN at 2.5mm, its deepest, this means the needles need to travel a longer distance than if they were set to .5mm depth.
Originally, I would do as they suggested on the different pen sites, setting my speed at the fastest with the deepest penetration. What I found is deep settings & high speed do not work well. I personally feel the deeper you go the slower you should set the speed because the "needle pins" need time to retract. People get scratches when the pen is being moved around too fast for the depth. This is where that 3rd factor comes in, you.
For instance, in the video I filmed to accompany this post. The deepest I ever MN in this session was 2mm deep and that was on my chest, neck, and cheek area. I had the speed dialed down to a 2 speed, nearly the slowest speed. Being at a deeper depth means you should move more gingerly, especially since skin is not perfectly flat, nor are the depths of your skin consistent.
When I am doing BB Glow (max depth .25mm) or a very lite MN session, meaning I will not go deeper than 1mm and most likely will stay around .5mm. In this case, I will have the pen set much faster, on the M8 it might be maxed out at speed 6. I can move the pen much faster at these shallow depths, which means the pen can puncture faster and not cause scratches.
I believe my theory of deeper settings on the pen correlating better with slower speeds works not simply due to providing more time for the needles to travel up and down, but also for the third factor, which is the human element. When you are stabbing yourself deeper, typically you are moving slower and how fast you move the pen around does correlate to how fast you set the pen.
HOW TO TROUBLESHOOT SETTINGS
-Where are you MN? Determine your location, goal and depth.
I want to MN my stretch marks on my hips. Body skin is much deeper than your forehead, so you can max the pen out in the depth treating body stretch marks. If I was MN my hip stretch marks, and I was using the M8 I would dial it up to a 2.5mm depth and have the speed set to a 1. I would test this, determine the slip and does my pen glide or is it getting caught. If it is getting caught, is it due to me moving too fast? I will slow my glide down and see if that helps. If not I will increase the speed and determine if that helps. Troubleshooting these 3 factors is part of MN. You can keep a journal of your settings and areas you treated to help your remember once you have successfully troubleshooted a region of your body.
This Skin Calendar was just released on Amazon. Amity, a member in our tribe made this skin calendar to help us record information, such as the settings for MN.
This calendar is something I have needed for forever, and I can't believe I will finally record all of my skin protocols for 2021 and be able to reference what was effective or what I am still troubleshooting.
Some people write me about getting scratches as they MN, although this can happen from time to time it should not be a normal experience. If you are getting scratching; linear lines that you can see; then check your cartridge.
-Is it seated correctly? Did you install the cartridge when the pen was dialed down to 0?
-Is the cartridge brand new? If so still inspect the pins at the end of cartridge, they should all be straight. If you have been MN a lot and you're noticing an issue later into your session, the cartridge needs to be changed out for a new one.
-Another reminder that you do not re-use cartridges.
-If the pen is set too deep and on the fastest setting this can lead to scratching as well.
WHICH SERUMS TO USE WITH MICRONEEDLING?
You can make this as simple or as elaborate as you want. In the end the biggest change is happening in your skin because of the mechanical stabbing action of the needles. That's not to say, this isn't your best time to infuse with the best ingredients possible, because it is, your skin barrier is pricked and ready to absorb nutrition.
MY LAWN AERATION ANALOGY
I always think of MN as effective Lawn Aeration for your skin. When my husband aerates our lawn, the sheer act of creating the divots is extremely effective for the health and improvement of our lawn and the soil it grows in. This is due to the missing plugs which in their absence, provide space for loosening soil, sending moisture in deeper, and finally adding nourishment deep into the soil. We have a tremendous amount of clay in our yard, and aeration has helped break it up over time and nourish from below, resulting in healthy beautiful grass.
The lawn like our skin benefits from the puncturing. The lawn gets its clay broken up, and our skin gets the weakened collagen and elastin broken up so they will rebuild stronger and in a better more organized pattern. This is happening whether or not you throw in serums, actives and moisture. But just like the lawn, when we add in moisture and nutrition we make the end product even better.
In order to MN and not scratch and pull at your skin, you do need a slip. Something that will help the pen glide smoothly. This can be very inexpensive like the Cos de Baha Hyaluronic Acid
I have used this numerous times and find it perfectly suitable as a slip agent for MN. With this said, this HA is not made to be placed into the skin, it is meant as a topical. Again, I have used it in deeper MN settings on myself, as a way to really hydrate, so that my more expensive ampoules can penetrate better.
Remember my aeration analogy? Well with lawn on my mind:) When Jason aerates, he waters it a ton so that the nutrition he puts down can seep deeply into these holes and be effectively delivered. This is how I reason my MN protocols. I like to use a very inexpensive HA, like the Cos De Baha to help hydrate and open up my skin.
Another inexpensive item from Amazon that you can use as both a slip and your final addition is these Easy Dew Ampoules
Once that is achieved, I start to layer in other nourishment, like Stem Cells, Peptides, and actives such as Retin A.
I buy these other items from different vendors
inside and outside the US
KAOS12 will give you 12% at this vendor
Outside US: For SKINBOOSTERS including best price on Miracle H and L
KAOS10 will work at the below vendors to save you 10%
Inside US: For STEM CELL
Inside US: For HYAFILIA
Outside US: For SKINBOOSTERS
RETIN A SAVE 10% code: KAOS10
No promo code with these below listings, but they are reputable sellers:
Items called "Skinboosters" are also known as Mesotherapy. Many of these solutions are meant to be placed in the skin with meso needles or the EZ Injector. However, you can MN them in as well. You will have more loss and not less impact by MN these solutions in however, its a great way to jump start your DIY journey into Mesotherapy. With this in mind make sure you are choosing solutions that are in your desired price point because you will have product loss.
Product loss is part of the DIY journey at home, you will get better as you troubleshoot and try different solutions. This is also where the Private Natural Kaos App becomes very helpful. It is full of others, just like you and me, sharing their experiences with all of these different products. The app is a great way to troubleshoot and get insight from others on what solutions people are using and finding best results with.
HOW OFTEN CAN I MICRONEEDLE?
We have covered, what microneedling is, which pen to get, how to pick a cartridge, which serums to use and now we come to how to incorporate MN into your life at home.
This is everyones challenge to ponder and observe for themselves as we all have different skin, goals, and time.
For me I have been committed to 1 solid MN session per month. This does not mean a little MN roller before I put on some nightly serum, I am talking about maybe I bleed a little, a lot, or I just get very pink. All three levels of MN in my opinion have helped change and improve my skin over the years.
If you MN as deeply as I do in some of my videos I would say every 4 weeks is adequate. Sometimes we might be doing a course of 3 or 4 back to back MN sessions and if your skin is healing well between them then you could space them every 2 weeks a part. Again, this is your decision and you need to monitor your own skin and not just follow a calendar. If you are going to do DIY professional skin care at home, you need to research and start slow as you see your skin react.
DO I HAVE TO BLEED?
No, you do not need to bleed, however, a benefit of bleeding is that you essentially have PRP infusing all over helping with healing and boosting skin regeneration. And with this said, although you do not need to bleed to have effective results from MN some of us will, we either have thinner or very vascular skin as I do, or we numb up with the intention of going this deep, and numbing helps to tolerate these deeper depths.
WHICH NUMBING CREAM?
You can buy numbing cream here and save 12% with KAOS12
Wellscaine plus is my favorite right now and I made a video about picking this as my choice.