Microneedling, what we also normally call derma rolling (DR, or rolling), is a method of taking hundreds of tiny needles and rolling them on your face to stimulate collagen production. In this article, I'll be getting into the method of using the the derma roller solely for the beard area.
How Does a Derma Roller Stimulate Beard Growth?
Using these tiny needles to prick your dermis, the layer just under the epidermis, your body sees this as damage and begins the healing process. During this healing process, collagen is produced. Collagen is a structural protein that makes up a quarter of the protein in our bodies. As with keratin, the protein that our hair is made out of, collagen is also what makes our skin supple and elastic. It helps maintain younger looking, stronger skin. Just as consuming protein in our diets, all of these proteins are important for the overall health of our hair, both for our heads and our beards.
How Else Derma Rolling Can Help
Let's face it, our female counterparts tend to know about body care much better than men do. Talking about the average guy here, of course. For years now, microneedling has been a big thing to help reduce wrinkles, acne scars and stretch marks on the body. Angelina Jolie is one famous woman that's known to use a derma roller to keep her face so pristine. I mean, look at that face!
Benefits of Microneedling:
Wait, Why Don't Women Grow Beards When They Roll?
This is a bit of a silly question, but it's been asked several times. It all comes down to hormones. Women simply don't have the same male hormones that we do, so even though they produce collagen as well, they're not going to be sprouting a bunch of beard hair. Keep in mind that women do have vellus hair on their faces, as do children.
So Rolling Without Minoxidil Will Still Help?
Now here's where things get less clear. Since genetics play a huge role in whether someone grows a beard or not (yes, even for those that need to bring it out with minox), it will certainly be dependent on whether or not you can grow a beard in the first place. If you have a baby face with no beard, it's possible it can help due to the extra collagen being produced, but the general consensus is that a topical should be used along with it for maximum benefit. You know those two bald spot gaps that many bearded men have under their lips, on either side of the soul patch? Some men have filled them up by utilizing a derma roller in conjunction with minoxidil.
Other men have noticed an increase in beard hair without minox as well. Guys see an increase in beard hair not using minox and opting to use something like Jamaican Black Castor Oil on their faces.
How Do I Use a Derma Roller For My Beard?
First, you'll need to know which size to get. We generally recommend getting the 0.5mm derma roller. If you can grab one that's titanium over stainless steel, and has 540 needles (or 1080 needles for the double-width version), then that'll be the best quality you can get. They're generally less than about 20 bucks and should last you 6-8 months of regular usage.
The 0.5mm is the first DR size to start producing collagen, the smaller sizes are meant for better absorption of a topical like beard oils. If you're using minoxidil in conjunction with the 0.5mm, please wait at least 24 hours before applying minoxidil. Many people wrongly assume that the DR is meant to be used to absorb minox better, but it's not.
Minoxidil should be absorbed at its own rate on top of your skin and should not go systemic, causing additional side effects because of it hitting your bloodstream faster. And you'll get unwanted more body hair this way as well. Minoxidil also inhibits the production of collagen, so essentially it's the opposite of what you want to be doing right after rolling.
Onto Using the Derma Roller
When your DR first arrives, it should already be sterilized. But if you're worried about that, I would do it myself before the first use anyway. Remember, these are needles and they need to be kept clean from bacteria and debris before being put into your skin. Something like Isopropyl Alcohol, commonly used in healthcare, is great. Simply put a small amount into clean a cup or glass and put the DR into it (just the head, no need to soak the entire thing). What I do, personally, is splash some alcohol onto the head and then go about my business in the bathroom until it fully evaporates after a few minutes.
The above image shows how you should use the derma roller. Roll ten times, up and down, ten times left and right, and ten times diagonally. You only need to apply slight pressure when rolling (put your index finger in the spot where there's a groove near the head of the roller). I wouldn't be able to say exactly how much pressure I apply personally, but I would guess around 1-2 lbs of pressure (less than 1kg).
When changing directions, lift the roller off of your skin and then put it back down. You don't want to twist or turn the roller, which would slightly tear the skin. You'll want to puncture the skin.
How Often Should I Roll?
With the 0.5mm roller, you can roll 1-2 times per week, with the lesser amount being preferable in the beginning so that your body gets used to it. A good schedule might be once every 3 days, so that would be two times per week. Remember, more isn't always better, so allow your body to recover and heal itself from the previous roll. You don't want to roll too often that it overly damages your skin — this can have the opposite effect of what the DR is meant to be used for.
Keep in mind that men heal faster than women, and generally when reading about the derma roller, you'll come across advice that's suitable for everyone; meaning 1-2 rolls per month, as that will be on the safer side of things. Be safe and roll correctly. It's also good to roll less in the beginning and work your way up (if you so choose), as your body gets used to the healing process.
Do I Have To Shave Before Rolling?
It's a good idea to have a short or shaved beard, as you might tug on hair while you're rolling with a longer beard. You also need to make sure the needles hit the dermis, and hair might block that from happening. For men that don't want to shave, we roll the upper cheeks where things are a bit lighter, and if we have 'em, the bald spots under our lips.
Apply Oil After Microneedling
After you've rolled your beard area, it's a good idea to moisturize with a face cream or beard oil. You can do this directly after rolling, but make sure that what you're using is meant for the face. This is why we tend to recommend using natural oils instead of lotions.
Are There Side Effects to Derma Rolling?
Only slightly red skin, when using the 0.5mm size. Higher DR sizes may require some numbing cream and bleeding may happen. You shouldn't bleed using the 0.5, but redness is normal. It should persist for just a few hours or a day, depending on how sensitive your skin is. Other than that, there's only upsides to rolling!
Derma rolling isn't new, but it's certainly gaining some momentum. Want to discuss this topic further? Check out the forum topic, How Derma Rolling (microneedling) might help you grow a fuller beard.
Video Example of Derma Rolling
Here's a great example of how to derma roll safely. While he does go in one direction, you can actually roll up and down just fine; just make sure that when you're switching positions to go diagonally, you lift the roll up and put it back down.