You could consider me somewhat of a beauty-treatment guinea pig. I'm up for trying almost anything new and interesting in the world of beauty at least once. I've been through skin boot camps, experimented with IPL, and tested countless products, so naturally, when my esthetician (and overall skin goddess) Vanessa Hernandez asked me if I'd like to try micro-needling, my answer was an enthusiastic yes.
For those of you unfamiliar with the treatment, we did a super in-depth micro-needling guide that answers every possible question, but in a nutshell, it's an in-office treatment that aims to improve a myriad of skin issues, including dark spots, acne scarring, skin texture, and pigmentation by rolling tiny needles over the skin's surface. "Micro-needling is hands down the best treatment that delivers maximum results with minimal downtime and continues to promote new collagen growth weeks after the treatment has been performed," explains Hernandez. "Creating thousands of micro channels in the skin allows a smoothing out of texture (large pores, fine lines, wrinkles, and scarring) while also stimulating new collagen production from the inside out. Depending on your skin needs, micro-needling should be done one to four times per year on the face, neck, and décolletage."
Keep reading to hear about my micro-needling experience—what to expect, from pain level to cost—and see the before-and-after photos.
I'm not going to lie, I was pretty anxious walking into my micro-needling appointment at Vanessa Hernandez Skincare. I was assured by the lovely and trusted staff that my face would be numb, and I wouldn't be in much pain, but still, the idea of many tiny needles pricking the delicate skin on my forehead and cheeks sent a shiver down my spine.
As soon as I lay down on the treatment table, my nurse, Stephanie Novak, removed all of my makeup and applied a thick layer of the numbing cream to my entire face and neck. They use the highest grade available to ensure your treatment will be as pain-free and comfortable as possible.
I was on the table with the numbing cream on for about 25 minutes before Novak came back in to start the micro-needling. She removed all of the numbing cream, cleaned my entire face with rubbing alcohol to remove any bacteria, and then applied stem cells. She uses bone marrow stem cells that aid in the anti-aging process by stimulating collagen production and improving skin elasticity. "They are potent cells from other humans which are screened, and the RNA and DNA are removed," Novak told me. "What is left is healthy and fresh bone marrow cells that can contribute to stimulating new collagen and elastin that will help with fine lines and wrinkles, pore size, skin texture, and overall glow."
Then came the scary part: the needles. Novak took a tiny pen-like tool with 14 needles on the tip of it and began gently rolling them across my face, section by section. The needles pressed the stem cells deeper into my skin while also creating small pricks to help stimulate collagen growth. Her first touch to my skin had me holding my breath, but she was right—zero pain whatsoever. It feels a bit annoying, almost itchy, while the needles are rolling across your skin, but I didn't find it painful. I was pleasantly surprised by this, and it calmed me down dramatically once I realized I wasn't in for 20 minutes of excruciating pain.
The whole needling process takes about 20 minutes total to do your entire face and neck (excluding the 25 minutes you spend with the numbing cream on), so in its entirety, the treatment is about 45 minutes. Once Novak was finished with the needles, she treated my skin to some LED light therapy to aid in collagen stimulation and help prevent breakouts.
Once finished, I was still pretty numb, but one look in the mirror told me my face had indeed been pricked by tiny needles, as I was pretty red. It looked like I had been lying out in the sun all day sans sunscreen (but with sunglasses since she didn't roll over too close to my eyes, as you'll be able to tell in the below photo). I made a follow-up appointment for a week later for light microdermabrasion to slough off any of the dead skin that remained and reveal the true micro-needling results.
I went home looking like I did in the above photo, and about an hour after I got home, the numb feeling finally wore off. Once I had sensation in my face again, it felt similar to a sunburn. There was a slight feeling of heat in my cheeks that honestly wasn't painful, but more annoying than anything. I was instructed to moisturize my face that evening before bed but avoid anything harsh—nothing in the retinol or acid realm.
The next day I woke up to shockingly little redness (as you'll see in the below photo) considering how rosy I was the night before. There was no pain in my face, but I did have a slightly raw feeling on the surface of my skin. I gently cleansed and moisturized, then made sure to apply a serious SPF, as my skin was very raw and susceptible to sun damage. I was advised to avoid makeup if possible, but that it wasn't a big deal if I needed to apply some (which I did that day, as I had meetings). Much to my surprise and delight, the makeup didn't irritate my skin at all.
Over the next few days, what little redness remained totally disappeared, and my skin did peel slightly in a few areas of my face (mainly my forehead), which is totally normal and to be expected.
A week later, I went back to Vanessa Hernandez Skincare for my follow-up appointment, and Novak sloughed off the remaining dead skin that hadn't yet peeled off on its own to reveal glowing new skin. And when I say glowing, I mean glowing. My skin looked like I just got back from a weeklong spa trip. It felt plumper and bouncier than before, with the smoothest texture thanks to the removal of dead skin. As happy as I was with the results then, I was told that in the weeks following my appointment, my skin would actually improve even more as the collagen production increased.
It's recommended that when first beginning micro-needling, you do two or three treatments about six weeks apart and then move to once every six months. I've only done my first treatment, but I already see a noticeable difference in the texture and luminosity of my skin. I'll definitely be going back for my second appointment of the series in a few weeks and am anxiously awaiting the next round of results.
While I haven't had the pleasure of trying this one myself just yet, I've been hearing rave reviews from my friends. This serum uses adaptogenic mushrooms to plump and smooth the skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines.