Laura Grant recently tried micro-needling at home, armed with our Live Probiotic Hydration Serum to help repair, soothe and hydrate her skin throughout the 70 day process. Here she shares her experience and shows us the (pretty darn impressive) results.
*Not to be taken as medical or professional advice. I always recommend consulting a dermatologist or other skin professional before starting any new treatments. Do as I say, not as I do, kids.*
We all have bad habits. Things we know we shouldn’t be doing, but do anyway, because this time it won’t have the same negative effects it did last time.
I personally have a fair few habits of questionable nature, but today I’m going to talk to you about one in particular: making a mountain out of a molehill. Literally. On my face.
Every now and then whilst taking it off my makeup, I end up examining my face in my 5x zoom mirror, freaking out over every single blackhead, whitehead and wrinkle. On some occasions, I decide to tempt fate and take matters into my own hands - which in this case means trying to squeeze out anything that has the nerve and audacity to live on my face rent-free.
Sometimes, this is fine, and I wake up the next day feeling vindicated and smug.
Sometimes, it’s not, and I wake up with what can only be described as a primordial super-volcano brewing under my skin, ready to engulf anything standing in its way.
Have I made the situation a hundred times worse? Yes.
Will this stop me from doing it in the future in the hope that I improve the situation? No.
(Feel free to use this as a concrete example in your psych paper about intermittent reinforcement).
And that, dear reader, is how we get to today’s story of why I decided to finally try micro-needling at home.
On this fateful occasion, a cold, rainy Dunedin morning, I had woken up to the above-mentioned Volcano after a particularly unsuccessful night of picking. What made matters worse was that I was also experiencing a small hormonal purge, and still recovering from another picking disaster.
It was there and then that I decided to dig out the micro-needling tool I had bought during the 2020 lockdown, following the logic of “Poking my face full of tiny holes can’t make the situation much worse, can it?”
All jokes aside, I had been toying with the idea for a long time (basically since getting the tool), but had been too scared to do it due to a lot of conflicting information on the internet. Some sources said it had transformed their skin whilst others claimed it had given them the most horrendous infection.
I felt, however, ready and armed, with the strongest percentage isopropyl alcohol available at Bunnings, and was going to start my journey, for better or for worse.
Sponsor me, Diggers
But first. Micro-needling – what is it?
According to Dermnet NZ, micro-needling or skin needling, is:
. . . A minimally-invasive non-surgical and non-ablative procedure for facial rejuvenation that involves the use of a micro-needling device to create a controlled skin injury.
In other words, it’s rolling a spiky cylinder on the different areas of your face, creating tiny holes that allegedly improve collagen production, lighten scars and stretch marks, reduce wrinkles, and even out skin tone.
Now, it’s important to note that when done professionally at a clinic, micro-needling often utilises longer needles, sometimes up to 3mm in length. This creates a deeper “injury”, but also more tangible results, especially with deeper scarring or pigmentation.
Most at-home needling sets range from 0.25mm to 0.75mm in length, and don’t claim to make a visible difference on acne scars or deeper pigmentation. The benefits of shorter needles usually range from increased blood circulation to better effectiveness of skincare products when applied after the needling session.
As for my experiment, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but my main goal was to see if I could help lighten the pigmentation caused by the new spot, Volcano. I figured that if I started early, I could minimise the mark it would leave and potentially promote faster healing too.
My initial derma-roller had a needle length of 0.25mm, but I also put in an order for one with 0.5mm needles, as I figured it was like retinol and that you’d get used to it, having to move to a more intense treatment for the same results. This was just my own deduction, though.
I also just really wanted to buy the sleek, matte black derma roller set I had seen online, so take from that what you will.
My weapon of choice
I read that whilst needling increases the efficacy of the skincare products that follow, you shouldn’t use any active ingredient after as it may end up irritating your skin. The permanent actives present in my routine are adapalene, glycolic acid, and vitamin c, all of which were banned for this purpose. (Psst: If you want to read more about my day-to-day skincare routine, you can find it in this Q&A).
Whilst thinking about what I could use after needling, it dawned on me to try a product I already used and loved, our Live Probiotic Hydration Serum. With the live probiotic Q24 being a soothing and repairing ingredient, it made more than enough sense to incorporate it into the experiment.
My product of choice
As I’m writing this, it has been 70 days since I started this new routine. For the sake of science, I didn’t change or update my routine in any other way, simply incorporated the micro-needling to my evening routine on every third night, so I think I averaged about 22-23 sessions. That seems like a lot, looking back!
Each micro-needling session took between 5 and 8 minutes, and approximately 18 of those sessions were done with the longer, 0.5mm needles. I never rolled more than every third night, avoiding the nose and eye area, and always followed up with the Live Probiotic Serum Hydrator, sometimes adding an occlusive layer of vaseline on top, but nothing else.
I’m usually very good about SPF anyway, but I was extra vigilant about it during this routine the following morning(s).
Overall, I’d rate the experience alone a solid 9/10.
Me, after a rolling session. I really should have cleaned the mirror.
The first couple of times I was very cautious, rolling very gently and for a short while, but have become a bit more bold since. You can definitely feel the needles, but I wouldn’t consider this to be a painful experience. The most discomfort I felt was on my forehead where I have the least proverbial padding, but even there it wasn't unbearable.
I never rolled hard enough to be injured in any way or experience bleeding.
Afterwards my face was noticeably red for a while and felt a bit tender, but it never felt painful or irritated, it just felt like I'd stayed in the sauna for a bit too long. All of the visible signs of rolling were gone the following morning. I wouldn’t recommend doing this during your AM routine, though!
Directly after a rolling session, January
There were times when I was doing my normal AM routine and after applying vitamin C my face felt a bit tender, but that soon subsided, and I never had any further issues, breakouts or discomfort.
The thing that surprised me the most was how relaxed my facial muscles felt after the needling - I guess it sort of doubles as a massage? A spiky, prickly massage.
Applying the LPHS after also had no negative effects, no visible breakouts or irritation, and mostly the following mornings my face felt smooth, plump and good.
Now, for what you're really here for. I bet you've been dying to meet Volcano, and see if my experiment actually made a difference.
So, this is what I started with, mid-November:
That initial dreadful morning. You can see the will to live has left the chat.
The direct daylight was naturally very unflattering, but my skin was not feeling or looking great overall, no matter the light. I felt splotchy, and the pigmentation from Volcano was very stark.
First check-in, end of November:
Now that's what I call an unflattering angle!
This was my first check-in after starting the new regimen. I know I messed up here as I'm wearing a pimple patch on Volcano (which obviously did nothing for that under-the-skin monster), but it totally slipped my mind.
Overall, no huge improvements on any front.
Second check-in, second week of December:
Is that... an attempt at a smile?
Okay, so looking back, this was the turning point, which was about a month in. The redness from Volcano and my other picking accidents is still there, and not necessarily coming across as stark here, but I started noticing a clear plumpness and evenness to my skin tone that had not been there, especially on my forehead.
Third check-in, around Christmas:
Was breaking out a bit here, definitely not due to eating too much ginger slice.
This check-in was a few days after we moved, and the stark change in climate (Dunedin to Auckland) has definitely been a contributing factor, as I'm feeling more hydrated overall. But again, there's a fair bit that's improved!
Fourth check-in, early January:
I really should have worn something different for these check-ins.
Not a huge difference between the third and fourth, except in overall smoothness and some more recent marks had also faded a bit.
Final check-in, yesterday:
Final thoughts: Whilst I started this journey as a bit of a joke and just to try out something new, I do actually see a huge difference, and not just in lightening of pigmentation, but in the overall health of my skin. The pictures speak for themselves.
Will to live has re-entered the chat.
Whether these results are down to the actives in my routine or the micro-needling & LPHS alone is pretty impossible to prove, but given that I had been using the same routine for a long time before without this drastic of an improvement is definitely saying something in favour of the needling and probiotic serum.
Rocking the beetroot-red needling look.
I felt like my skin was in a fairly good condition before (despite the self-inflicted injuries), but I really see a difference in how much more even my skin tone is, my forehead wrinkles seem to have diminished, and everything is so much glowier. I’m also thoroughly impressed by how quickly Volcano subsided and healed, and hope that the pigmentation keeps reducing even further with time.
Best friends foreveeeeer
So yes, in case it was unclear, I will definitely be keeping micro-needling & LPHS in my routine going forward! And, I'll try and keep my hands off my face.
No promises though.
Listen, I clean up OK, okay?
- None of the check-in pics have been edited in any way beyond being put into a collage.
- I swear I own more clothes than a fluffy blue robe and a black t-shirt.
- I did move cities during this experiment, so the lighting is slightly different in the pics, but I have tried to have either very bright artificial, or fully natural light present where possible.
- All of the check-in pictures have been shot on the same phone camera without any filters present, the others are a mixture of two separate phone cameras.