Post microneedling - when to add serums, devices and other skincare back into your routine
Updated: Nov 19
Most of you know that I'm a huge advocate of microneedling. Microneedling for collagen induction (CIT) has so many benefits. Controlled skin injuries produced by microneedling send the skin into a repair mode that triggers the body to produce new collagen as well as elastin, providing our skin with plumpness and resilience. It's not unlike doing resistance training in a gym - we injure the muscle, provide it fuel to repair and it increases in size and quality. Importantly, it isn't just the microneedling that brings all this goodness. How we treat our skin in the period following microneedling has perhaps more impact on our outcomes than the microneedling itself!!
If you think about it, it makes sense. Our body's ability to repair itself is totally reliant on the resources it has available to it. We need to ask ourselves:
Have we kept our wounds clean so there is no infection that might put us at risk or take resources away from building new cells?
Have we nourished ourselves internally so our body has the 'raw materials' to build collagen and elastin?
Have we nourished ourselves externally so that our body has the resources to cope (remember, the skin absorbs 60-70% of what we put on it - quality is SO important)
Have we considered whether our other skincare 'interventions' are helping or hurting ourselves while we heal?
Below you'll find a guide and some FAQs. Remember that you've just created thousands of little micro-injuries on your skin - now it's time for pampering and a careful protocol for internal and external supplementation and healing. Because how we treat our skin in the days following a treatment will dramatically effect the level of rejuvenation we experience.
Here's a version of my 28 day post microneedling for collagen induction graphic that's easy to download and print:
So you've microneedled at .5+ for collagen (your monthly needling session) and you're wondering what you should be taking, what you should be applying to your skin and what other devices you can use during the next month. Let’s go over it!
Day 0 (the big collagen induction day!!)
The day that you needle it is all about simplicity. As Dr. Lance Setterfield the author of The Concise Guide to Dermal Needling says, “keep it safe, keep it simple”. If you'd like to see how I needle you can view my Protocol for Microneedling for Collagen. As soon as the needling is finished the skin will feel hot, look sunburnt and possibly have evidence of pin point bleeding. It is ok to hop in the shower and let tepid water rinse over the skin for 10-20 minutes while massaging away the hyaluronic acid and dried fluids on the face. If you'd rather rinse your skin over the sink, that is ok (however I prefer the shower option) just be sure to wash your hands thoroughly prior and gently massage the skin with tepid water only. This rinsing is optional (it is ok to leave the HA on the skin, it just might not be comfortable).
As far as nutrition goes, Dr. Setterfield recommends (and I agree wholeheartedly) that we should supplement orally with nutrients that provide the building blocks for collagen and elastin creation; liposomal vitamin C, omega 3, vitamins A, E and calcium (I take these in the form of a multivitamin). Dr. Setterfield recommends a consistent use of these throughout the collagen induction cycle.
Next step: red light! LED is the perfect pairing with microneedling. Red LED can reduce erythema (redness) and inflammation. Red LED (633nm) enhances keratinocyte proliferation (wooohooo fresh skin!) and near infra-red LED (700-830) amplifies collagen and elastin formation (yesss!! stronger, bouncier skin!). If you have a red LED mask, this is a time when I'd strongly recommend that you NOT use your mask - it's simply too soon to risk cross contamination as those channels are still open!! It's perfectly fine to clean your mask thoroughly and to hold it an inch away from your face - but most masks aren't powerful enough to emit rays that will make a difference from an inch away. In any case, it's perfectly fine to start using a red LED mask on the day following needling.
After LED you can add hyaluronic acid. Then, take it easy - no makeup, perfumes or other products close to your face please! You’ll also want to avoid the gym, sauna and direct sunlight exposure for at least the first 24 hours after microneedling treatment.
Days 1-5 (feeling a bit pink and dehydrated?)
You'll wake up the next day and rinse your skin (it's ok to wash if you feel you need to, just use a very gentle facial cleanser) and then apply green tea. This can be in the form of a a serum/toner (be sure it contains no alcohol or other harsh ingredients!) Green tea is soothing, it is an antioxidant and is the perfect pairing with what's coming next: red LED.
After LED I like to apply vitamin C and then a facial oil high in linoleic acid to sooth and nourish the skin. At this point most people benefit from a moisturizer with ingredients like ceramides, shea butter and squalane. You'll then finish with a healthy amount of sunscreen -and you're done for the morning. This will be repeated each morning the first 5 days.
To summarise skicare in the mornng in the first five days:
LED with green tea: This video explains WHY green tea+ LED is SO GREAT!
Kiwi seed oil or other high linoleic acid oil: This VIDEO explains ALL about oils!
Moisturiser with ceramides, shea butter and squalane
Skicare in the evening during the first 5 days my protocol (you can adjust to your preferences) goes like this:
Green tea toner
Oil of choice
Remember that the first 5 days are about feeding the skin and replenishing it, helping it to heal. You very well may have flaking and dryness along the way - that's perfectly normal. Toward day five you may use a gentle enzyme peel to clear flakes. Gentle is the key word here. Also toward day five vitamin A may be re-introduced depending on tolerance and the form of vitamin A. While this topical vitamin IS called for and IS very good for the post-needled skin it can also be very irritating-something we don't want after needling. Proceed with caution with vitamin A.
Days 6-14 (looking 'normal' again, but a lot going on beneath the surface)
Once you enter the Fibroplastic phase (days 6-14) your routine can remain the same but you have more options to add in other skincare products to support new tissue formation. Growth factors and copper peptides are fantastic ingredients at this point as the wounds start to produce new tissue. Keep an eye out for irritation and be mindful of the healing process. Use the accompanying chart to see what other ingredients to add and what other modalities you may reintroduce in to your routine. Also have a look at CHART WITH INGREDIENTS TO AVOID to makes sure you're continuing to let your skin repair itself, not having to react to insults.
Days 15-28 (the time for patience)
Two weeks after your microneedling session it will feel like it was in the distant past. But don't be fooled! Your skin is still undergoing profound changes that, if interrupted, could foil your collagen-inducing efforts!! This is the time to be patient. Day 15 is the start of the final phase: the Maturative phase- you will see that once again your choices for optimal ingredients broadens and you have a lot of flexibility in your skincare choices.
Many of us have other tools and products that have influence on our skin and muscles at a deeper level. From radio frequency to microcurrent, green LED, lasers to IPL.. and what about chemical peels and 'cosmetic' and 'nano' microneedling ?
I separate these items into two primary categories; those that impact the collagen production in a similar way to microneedling, and those that don't.
1. Things to avoid while you're under a 'course' of microneedling for collagen induction. In this category we include lasers, IPL and deep chemical peels such as TCA.
These are treatments that alter the microneedling schedule, effectively prolonging the timeframe to heal and rebuild collagen. If you want to use these tools (I know I do!!), I suggest you create a schedule that might look like this:
- Months 1-6, microneedle for collagen induction one time per month
- Months 7-9, do a series of monthly TCA peels or IPL such as Faustina
- Months 10-12, move back to microneedling or employ another modality such as radio frequency
Alternatively with PEELS another option you may choose is a schedule that looks like this:
Microneedle, wait 2+ weeks before getting a peel then wait AT LEAST another 3 weeks to needle again. In this scenario I would recommend that other modalities are put away for another time. It is still important to follow the microneedling chart above for topicals and nutritional supplements but effectively we have stretched the microneedling time frame.
2. Things to accommodate while you're under a 'course' of microneedling for collagen induction. In this category we include LED (all colors), microcurrent and both cosmetic (at depths less than .3) and nano-needling.
These are all perfectly fine to do once you've past the two week point after CIT. LED is fantastic to do all along the way and microcurrent won't disturb the collagen formation in any way. Cosmetic needling is fine too, just keep it to one time per week - and nano-needling twice a week. And remember to slather your skin with ingredients from the chart above - it'll pay off in glowing, happy skin.
So to be clear about at-home RF (like the NEWA device): my suggestion is that an entire round of treatment be completed before adding in microneedling. Example: 8 weeks of NEWA before one microneedling sessions. This way only maintenance sessions of RF are required.
Dr. Setterfield's book on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QMgPzv
Cos de BAHA HA on Amazon: https://amzn.to/34O4hzP
Top 4 Dr Pens on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/shop/penn.smith.skincare?listId=13KOBPMQ6KQ2S
Current Favorite pen:
A7 on Aamzon: A7 https://amzn.to/34JbNvE
A7 UK Amazon https://amzn.to/3nI3dUj
Liposomal C supplement
UK: Altrient Vitamin C (European distributor for LiveOn) Use code PSMITH5 for discount)
Isntree green tea toner https://shrsl.com/2gpqu
Maysama Serum (this green rooibos rather than green tea, but it shares many properties, and I LOVE it)
US Site: https://maysama.com/us/penn-smith-6/?v=3e8d115eb4b3 Penny10 for 10% off
UK Site: https://maysama.com/penn-smith-6/?v=79cba1185463 Penny10 for 10% off
Mito Red LED
https://mitoredlight.com/?rfsn=4255850.08ae3d Use code PENNY for a discount on any Mito products!
Topical Vitamin C (post needling 5 days I TRY to use L-ascorbic acid as much as I can tolerate)
Drmtlgy CE Ferulic is excellent
Use code Penn20 for 20%off
High linoleic acid oil
Youth to the People Oil
Kiwi seed oil
Dr Brandt Clean Biotic Cleanser https://amzn.to/3lvlweQ
Purito Centella Sunscreen
Ceramide rich peptide moisturizer
Peptide Night Cream by DRMTLGY (despite saying night it is perfectly fine during the day as long as you wear sunscreen)
(Use Code Penny20 to get 20% off this moisturizer...It is $42 for 2+ oz and with the discount it is super reasonable. SO good!!)
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the protocol for microneedling to increase collagen in my skin?
I recommend you view my video on Microneedling for Collagen Induction.
Is it better to use a dermal roller or microneedling pen?
I prefer a pen as it allows you to set different depths in different areas of the face. For example, you'll want to use a more shallow depth around the eyes and forehead and more profound on the cheeks.
How deep a needle should I be using at home?
I recommed people medical needle at home with needles no deeper than .5mm
Is there any benefit to having microneedling done by a dermatologist or esthetician?
Absolutely, trained professionals can safely go deeper to address more profound wrinles, pigmentation and scars. They also have access to special powerful red LEDS and preparations of growth factors and other ingredients to support healing.
What about needling to help with scars?
Needling to reduce scars requires the support of a medical professional.
Are there contraindications for microneedling?
Yes, see the list below.
It is vital that you check with your medical professional prior to commencing a course or microneedling for collagen induction. There are several situations/conditions that may be contraindicated, included in the list below. Please take no risks.
Possible contraindications for medical microneedling for collagen induction:
Presence of skin cancers, warts, solar keratosis or any skin infection.
Do not perform while undergoing chemotherapy, high does of corticosteroids, or radiotherapy.
Active acne or herpes breakout.
Aspirin should be stopped 3 days prior to the procedure.
Allergy to local anesthetic agents.
Strong tendency for keloid scarring.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Content provided on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or skin related diagnosis or treatment options. Information on this website should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare/skin professional. The statements made about specific products throughout this website are not to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. It is important that you check labels to determine if a product is right for you. Before starting any treatment at home consult a health care or skin care professional to determine if it’s right for you.