*UPDATED JANUARY 1, 2021 | Post microneedling - when to add skincare and devices in to your routine
Updated: Aug 9
*Be sure to scroll to the mid-bottom of this blog for my most current protocol suggestions and also the 7 week rolling calendar I spoke about in my YouTube video.
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 us 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 .5mm+ 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 pinpoint 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 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!). Whatever LED device you choose ensure that it does not actually touch your skin (risking cross contamination) and that it is clean before use in case it accidentally touches your skin.
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 serum/toner (be sure it contains no alcohol or other harsh ingredients!). Green tea is a soothing antioxidant perfect for your dehydrated skin.
Next, I like to apply vitamin C and then a facial oil high in linoleic acid to soothe 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 skincare in the morning in the first five days:
Kiwi seed oil or other high linoleic acid oil: This VIDEO explains ALL about oils!
Moisturiser with ceramides, shea butter and squalane
Skincare 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 keyword 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 into 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.
Below are some options for protocols with microneedling. Be sure to print my "rolling 7 week calendar" and use it with whichever protocol you choose!
Also remember to TAKE PICTURES! Results are often subtle (it's just reality) and we need to be able to compare to see them.
Schedule suggestion 1: Slow and Steady Microneedling +
- 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 radiofrequency
Schedule suggestion 2: Microneedling + Peels 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.
Schedule suggestion 3: Microneedling + Multiple Devices (detail below)
This is a schedule I’ve created that accommodates multiple modalities in one protocol. I’ve altered the microneedling schedule (stretched it) to allow for other devices to be used. Be sure to check the 7 week rolling calendar for scheduling help! You may also print my copy AND a blank so that you can develop your plan and stick to it.
Watch my video on this particular protocol and stay tuned as I create even more protocols with different modalities. This protocol uses medical microneedling, laser (Nira in my case), LED, Radio Frequency (NEWA in my case), and microcurrent.
My Microneedling + Multiple Devices schedule goes like this:
Day 1 **Take pictures and then medical needle everywhere you want except around the eyes. Around the eyes we use the Nira laser in the same session we needle (taking care not to overlap needling and laser areas). Immediately post we use our LED. We are still just using hyaluronic acid this first day. Be sure to double-check all the serums and products that can be used in the days post needling (above) and add them to your calendar if it helps you stay organized!
The next day we will add in microcurrent taking care that whatever device we choose is impeccably clean. So days 2-9 looks like this, in this order:
2. Nira Laser around the eyes (every day)
2. Green Tea then LED (3-5 days a week)
3. Microcurrent (3-5 days a week and not around the eyes where we used the laser)
So some days you are ONLY doing the Nira laser. 3-5 days a week you are doing all three together-in that order.
4. Follow with all the skincare listed above by days (so do your skincare primarily after you use your devices. The exception is the green tea before LED. After you finish microcurrent you may wash your face (if you use conductivity gel you might like to wash) the then go on with your skincare. I often use my devices and then wash and do my skincare from scratch.
On Day 10 we add in radio frequency! I use the NEWA RF device. There are a couple of ways to do this - If you're just starting RF, you'll want to do it 5 days a week. Be sure to put it on your calendar that way.
***To reiterate: If you are already using RF (meaning you did at least 4-8 weeks of 5 days a week NEWA prior to starting this protocol) you simply decide between 3,4 and 5 days a week at day 10 of this protocol. If you are just starting NEWA you need 'ramp up' by doing 5 days a week for 4-8 weeks at this point (day 10 on) before dropping down to fewer days a week. Nira laser continues to be every day.
Here's the order of devices day 10+ (until we needle again)
1. Nira laser around the eyes (every day)
2. LED (3-5 days a week)
3. Radiofrequency (3-5 days a week)
4. Microcurrent (3-5 days a week)
Again...You may do this 3,4 or 5 days a week and they don't have to be the same days every week. Do what works for your life and what you can commit and stick to! Remember to use the calendar! Print 3: my sample calendar, a blank you fill out ahead of time (to plan), and then a 3rd copy to log your treatments. This helps with accountability and also is a great "diary"!
On this calendar, you'll see a place to put the months (upper right), the days (the pink squares), and keep notes at the end of each week. Soon I'll create a protocol for other modalities but in the meantime feel free to use this calendar (print a blank) to your heart's content (if you share it please leave my logo intact and credit my site/this blog post).
Do note that I shortened "Nira laser" to just laser and RF is radiofrequency (NEWA for me).
My Microneedling + Multiple Devices EXAMPLE protocol:
DOWNLOADABLE Microneedling + Multiple Devices Protocol EXAMPLE (printable version of my EXAMPLE above)
My Microneedling + Multiple Devices Protocol TEMPLATE (for you to fill in):
DOWNLOADABLE Microneedling + Multiple Devices Protocol PDF TEMPLATE:
(printable version of my TEMPLATE above)
Here's the list of things I recommend you go through before you even decide to Microneedle.
I sure hope this helps!
Penn Smith Skincare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program. Many links are affiliate links, meaning I am compensated when you shop through these at no extra fee to you.
Dr. Setterfield's book on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QMgPzv
Cos de BAHA HA on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3mw3N8X
Top 4 Dr Pens on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3zEsR3X
Microneedling pens I like:
Dr Pen A7 https://amzn.to/3wXsqyt
Dr Pen A6 https://amzn.to/2X1u3LJ
Radio frequency I like:
Newa US (at-home RF for skin tightening) bit.ly/NEWA146
CODE PENNY10 gets you 10% off this at-home RF device
Microcurrent I like:
Pico Toner: https://www.neurotris.com/picotoner
Foreo Bear (This is a surprising new love. It is different than the other 2 as it is a handheld-one piece device...But I really like it!)
LED Mito red LED Panel https://mitoredlight.com/?rfsn=4255850.08ae3d
Coupon code Penny for discount
Liposomal C supplement
UK: Altrient Vitamin C (European distributor for LiveOn) Use code PSMITH5 for discount)
Isntree green tea toner https://amzn.to/397o9SQ
Maysama Serum (this green rooibos rather than green tea, but it shares many properties, and I LOVE it)
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 Penn for 20% off
High linoleic acid oil
Youth to the People Oil
Kiwi seed oil
Drmtlgy - I love their Universal Tinted SPF
Use code Penn for 20% off
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 Penn for 20% off this moisturizer...It is $44 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-1mm depending on the area. Less is more!
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 in my opinion.
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 of microneedling for collagen induction. There are several situations/conditions that may be contraindicated, included in the list below. This list is not all-inclusive, please do your own research to be sure you are a good candidate. 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.
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