How To Use A Dermaroller For Hair Growth

In this article you’ll learn how to use a dermaroller to stimulate new hair growth. This method can help with diffuse thinning hair, or the typical M-shaped (Widow’s peak style) receding hairline…

But you will need to know how to use this technique properly – or you risk damaging your hair further.

What is A Dermaroller?

A dermaroller is a simple device that is used to make tiny pin pricks in the skin. The pricks penetrate into the dermal layer, just deep enough to stimulate new cell production and boost circulation, but without causing damage and without causing pain. The process is also known as ‘microneedling’.

The derma roller has been used as a beauty device for decades to renew the youthfulness of skin but stimulating collagen, reducing the appearance of wrinkles.

How Does the Dermaroller Help With Thinning Hair?

In a similar way that the derma roller is used to stimulate collagen production on the facial skin, it can also be used to increase cell production and increase blood circulation around the scalp, which in turn will help with new hair growth.

The Science Behind Its Use

Microneedling has been studied for decades and, as such, there are studies which back its claims. Some of these even prove that the dermaroller and other similar tools — such as the dermastamp and dermapen — can be beneficial for your scalp. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look!

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Microneedles Can Stimulate Skin Cell Proliferation

In 2012, American researchers explored the role that microneedling had on skin cell proliferation. This is beneficial in the treatment of wounds, scars, hyperpigmentation, and even in hair growth.

In short, researchers determined that microneedling induces a three-step healing process. These steps are:

  1. Inflammation;
  2. Proliferation; and
  3. Remodeling (maturation).

These mimic the natural healing process that wounds undergo.

Typically, the remodeling phase can lead to scarring. So, why doesn’t microneedling cause the same?

According to a 2007 research study, scarring only occurs when the initial wound reaches a certain depth.

When using a designated microneedling tool, the needles do not penetrate this depth. They do, however, go just deep enough to initiate the healing process above which then triggers skin cell proliferation.

Are you still not convinced? Let’s look more closely at a 2014 study performed on patients with Alopecia Areata (AA).

This small trial consisted of two patients – one male, and one female – presenting with patchy hair loss on the frontal and vertex of the scalp. The male had experienced this loss of hair for one year, while the female had experienced it for six months.

Each patient had been through various treatments, including injections of triamcinolone acetonide, topical steroid creams, and even minoxidil (5%). None of these were effective.

The presentation of alopecia areata in male patient.
Source. Clinical picture of male patient showing multiple alopecic patches all over the scalp.
A female presenting with alopecia areata
Source.

The patients were treated with a 10mg/ml concentration of triamcinolone acetonide twice per microneedling session. It was first applied before the session, and the second was applied after.

The sessions were performed using a dermaroller, and they occurred three times at three-week intervals. At the end of the study (nine weeks), the results were significant hair growth in both patients:

Male patient showing excellent hair growth after three sessions
Source. Male patient showing excellent hair growth after three sessions of microneedling.
Source.

While this particular study was small and focused on patients with Alopecia Areata, it can help us to better understand microneedling’s role in hair growth.

Even better?

There are studies which show microneedling’s effectiveness in treatment Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA).

Microneedles Can Activate the Wnt/β-catenin Pathway

In recent years, scientists have linked the regulation of adult stem cells with hair follicle proliferation and maintenance. This is a process that’s largely regulated by the Wnt/β-catenin pathway.

This theory was put to the test in 2016, when researchers from South Korea studied the effects of repeated microneedle stimulation on mice.

The mice were split into groups of two, and various needle lengths were tested. These included 0.15mm, 0.25mm, 0.5mm, and 1.0mm. There were also two different cycle periods: 10 cycles (for the 0.15mm, 0.25mm, 0.5mm and 1.0mm groups), or 13 cycles (for an additional 0.5mm group).

The hair was shaved from the backs of all mice in the study, and magnified photographs (50x) were taken at days 7 and 14 after the first microneedling session. Regular photographs were also taken at 13 days and 17 days after the first microneedling session:

The results of a microneedling study as performed on mice
Source.

The researchers hypothesized that the hair growth was a result of the upregulation of various proteins, including Wnt3a, VEGF, and Wnt10b. This was proven when samples were taken from the mice.

And which groups had the best results?

Wnt3a, β-catenin, Wnt10b, and VEGF mRNA expression were all increased in the 5.0mm/10 cycles group when compared with control.

Microneedles Can Treat Thinning Hair Caused by Androgenetic Alopecia

AGA is the most common type of alopecia in men, though it also effects women. The most common recommended treatments include minoxidil (for men and women) and finasteride (for men), but the desire for natural treatment options is growing.

Fortunately, there have been studies which show microneedling’s effects on patients with AGA.

The first study was performed in 2013, and it consisted of 100 patients with mild-to-moderate AGA. The participants were split into two groups. The first group received weekly microneedling treatment with twice daily application of minoxidil (5%), while the second group was given only minoxidil (5%).

Photographs were taken at baseline, and then all scalps were shaved to ensure equal length of hair shaft.

There were three parameters which researchers used to track efficacy:

  1. Change from baseline hair count at 12 weeks;
  2. Patient assessment of hair growth at 12 weeks; and
  3. Investigator assessment of hair growth at 12 weeks.

The results of this 12-week study were as such:

The mean hair count of patients in both groups improved. However, the improvement was more significant in the minoxidil + dermarolling group.

The investigator and patient self-assessment (which can be a lacking measurement technique) also showed a marked difference over the minoxidil-only group:

Microneedling vs control
Source.

And while the above study is promising, this isn’t the only study that was performed on patients with AGA.

In 2015, researchers from Mumbai studied the effects of microneedling on men with AGA who didn’t respond to conventional treatments (such as Rogaine and Propecia). This study was small – only four patients – but it helps to shed further light on microneedling’s use in the treatment of pattern baldness.

All four patients were on finasteride and minoxidil 5% for anywhere from two to five years. There was no further loss of hair during this period, but there also wasn’t any growth.

Alongside their ongoing treatment, the patients were also subjected to microneedling sessions for six months.

The results were tracked using a standardized 7-point evaluation scale, along with patient evaluation. While these aren’t the most accurate way to gauge efficacy, they do offer a general look at progress.

At the end of the 6-month period, three of the patients expressed more than 75% satisfaction with the results, while the fourth patient expressed more than 50% satisfaction. In addition, all patients showed a +2 or +3 response on the 7-point evaluation scale.

While further studies need to be carried out, one thing is for sure – microneedling can play a role in boosting hair growth via various mechanisms.

How To Use The Dermaroller

The first thing you’ll want to do when using a dermaroller for your hair is clean your scalp thoroughly. This doesn’t just mean washing your hair (and I recommend you use a homemade shampoo when you do). It also means completing a peel of the scalp where you want to use the derma roller. Typically this will take place along the thinning hair line.

Salicylic acid can be used to gently peel and clean the scalp before using the dermaroller, however since most salicylic acid products contain alcohol as the solvent (just like most minoxidil products that contain alcohol) I usually recommend making your own homemade exfoliant for the scalp.

This achieves a few things:

After You’ve Used the Dermaroller

After you’ve rolled the derma roller over your scalp you’ll want to increase the effectiveness of this method dramatically by rubbing in a mixture to the scalp.

The mixture has been specifically formulated to be used 5 minutes after using the derma roller and it is a very powerful hair tonic.

Inside Hair Equilibrium I go into much more detail about this mixture, but I’m going to outline the ingredients and preparation quickly here:

  • Emu oil
  • Magnesium Oil
  • Saw Palmetto
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Apple polyphenol

Mix the ingredients together in the right ratios in a small plastic bottle and make sure they are thoroughly mixed.

After you’ve used the derma roller on the right area of your scalp you can carefully apply the mixture and use a finger to gently rub in the mixture until your get an even and generous covering.

I recommend that you do this 1 hour before bedtime. This will give it enough time to dry onto the scalp. over night the derma roller and the mixture will begin to work on your scalp, stimulating and feeding new hair growth directly.

In the morning you should wash if off. Although it’s fine if you use water to wash it off, I have developed a mixture of guava leaf tea and tea tree oil which I use to wash out the mixture.

This adds even more power to the technique by reducing DHT directly, providing nutrients and minerals and reducing any (very small) chance of bacterial infection with the antibacterial properties of the Tea Tree Oil.

Dermaroller vs. Dermastamp: Which Is Best?

The dermaroller is perhaps the most well-known microneedling tool, but it’s not the only one that exists. So, what other options do you have?

The dermastamp is one option. It’s a rectangular block on the end of a handle, and the block contains needles. Just as with the dermaroller, the stamp can also be used on the scalp and face.

What’s the difference?

Aside from the obvious structural differences, the dermastamp has a few benefits over the roller.

In particular, the stamp is much easier to manipulate when using it yourself. This is especially true for hard-to-reach areas, such as the sides and back of the scalp.

There is also less risk of damaging the surrounding hair follicles and removing healthy hair strands, which can occur if hair gets stuck in the roller.

Even better, you can purchase adjustable dermastamps (whereas such rollers do not exist). This means you can decrease and increase the needle length as necessary for best results.

Which do I recommend?

The dermastamp.

I’ve previously used (and recommended) the roller. And while I did have an overall positive experience, I found the dermastamp much easier to navigate and target particular areas of my scalp.

I’ve also found that it’s much easier to control pressure and needle length with the dermastamp, which is essential if you want to avoid permanent damage to the follicles.

Dermaroller FAQs

Which dermaroller should I choose?

There are lots of different styles, shapes and sizes of dermaroller, but they essentially all do the same thing. Get one with a round roller and high quality metal pins.

Whats is the best size of dermaroller?

The best size dermaroller I’ve found to be around 0.5mm, smaller than 0.25mm will have a reduced affect and larger than 1mm could cause too much damage. 0.5mm is the most common size so I would recommend that.

Can the skin get infected from the dermaroller?

It’s very important to properly wash the dermaroller before you use it again. If the pins aren’t washed properly then you increase the chances of infection.

Pour boiling water over the roller before using it, but make sure it cools before applying to your scalp.

Infection is very rare, but irritation can occur. Use your own judgment about whether the irritation is too bad to continue.

If you have a scalp infection before using the dermaroller then wait until this clears up before continuing.

Will the dermaroller pull any hairs out?

The tiny pins of the dermaroller are not long enough to damage any exsisting hair follicles, however you should keep an eye out that it isn’t causing any undue damage to the scalp.

Typically you’ll be using the dermaroller on an area of scalp that is already bald, or along the hairline where there are less hairs.

If you’re using the dermaroller for diffuse hair loss than its important to make sure hair doesn’t get caught in the roller. You may have to do shorter strokes.

How do I clean the dermaroller?

 It’s important that you clean the dermaroller each time you use it. If the pins are dirty then you will increase your chances of getting an infection or irritating the skin.

Take an antibacterial wash and mix with water in a mug. Place the dermaroller inside the mug and leave for 1 minute and swish around.

Remove the dermaroller from the mug and rinse with boiling water.

Dry it, and place it back in its case, or a clean container.

How firmly do I press the derma roller into my scalp?

You should press it into your scalp firmly enough so that it penetrates the skin down to the depth of the pin. This equates to a light pressure, similar to applying a roll-on deodorant. it shouldn’t feel uncomfortable but it may sting/tingle slightly.

You shouldn’t draw blood, and it shouldn’t leave any visible sign when looked at from 30cm away in my experience. I would recommend going lightly on the first round and gradually applying more pressure as you get more comfortable with using it.

What motion, direction and how many times should I apply the derma roller to my scalp?

You will want to get a good even covering of pin pricks which means using the roller in multiple directions across the scalp.

Can this method be used for Alopecia Areata?

Yes, this method has been successfully used by researchers to improve hair growth in male and female patients with alopecia areata.

microneedling-dermaroller-alopecia-areata
Source. A female patient with Alopecia areata shows improved hair growth after 1 session with the dermaroller.

Inside Hair Equilibrium I explain this method in full detail with some added steps as well, such as the homemade mixture you should use to wash away the ‘scalp elixir.’ If you found this method useful and interesting I would recommend finding out more inside Hair Equilibrium.

59 thoughts on “How To Use A Dermaroller For Hair Growth

  1. Hello i a had read the whole site realy good stuff , I have good expiriance with dermaroller for years so some of my thoughts , I think 0.5 dermaroller is not enougt to trigger wounding process to make regrow , 0.5 is good for better apsorption of serum and stuff.

    I use 1.5 dermaroller once every 6 weeks you actualy need to bleed funny thing you will notice in time how spots that are reciding do not bleed much becouse or low circulation in that areas but with time and more use of dermaroller a lot more.

    I also use 0.5 2 times a week ,dermarollor is esencial in my opinion for wake up the sleeping folicle and triger them ,and dermaroler cant do any damage to skin or folicle so dont be afraid of little bleeding and some pain,massage is also great for everyday circulation

    • Interesting advice Goran, I think you may have a point with the larger size derma roller needed to fully facilitate the wounding process. I think it depends on your age and how many times you’ve used the roller before. Definitely something to take into consideration.

  2. I’ve been using minoxidil on my hairline for the past 10 years and am looking into dermarolling. Can I stop using the minoxidil once I start dermarolling?

  3. Which derma roller do you personally use? I want to buy a good one but there seems to be so many warnings online.

  4. Hi Will and thanks for all your great info. Regarding dermaroller, could you recommend which ones to get, i understand needle size should be 0.5 but searching online some people say the ones with less needles are better and that there are fake ones which dont penetrate the skin.

    • Once per week is a good time frame to get started. You need enough time for the skin to heal in between sessions. However if you feel like your skin isn’t fully healing in the 7 days then it would be fine to extend the timeframe.

  5. Hi all,

    Can anyone suggest best natural topical, ie oil based or component based application after dermarolling? Which blend of hair oils can I use for regression of the hairline?

      • Hi Will, sorry for the confusion, I thought you had mentioned earlier to not use the GRO2 product after dermarolling? Maybe I’m missing something? I ordered the derma stamp and the elixir from here, and am wondering as well what I am needing. New to this whole thing. Thanks

        • Hi Nathan, I mean immediately after microneedling. Basically because it will sting. Wait a few hours and it should be fine.

  6. Hi Will,

    Thanks for all the info, very useful. Just to clarify, do I need to clean my scalp with the home made exfoliate peel each time before using the dermaroller? And after the dermaroller, can I use GRO2, will that work, or better to use the elixir based on jojoba oil, nettle leaf extract, etc. ? Thanks

    • Hi Kate, no you don’t need to use the exfoliate every time before the dermaroller. In fact you only need to exfoliate once per month, or less. It really depends on how quickly the plaque builds back up. After the dermaroller you shouldn’t use GRO2 (within a 12 hour period) for the simple reason that it will sting. You could use a topical mixture based on emu oil though.

  7. Hello, I am a woman with shoulder length hair. Would you recommend derma roller or derma stamp to be most effective and not pull out my hair? Can derma roller be purchased from your website?

    • Hi Bianka, I would definitely recommend our new adjustable dermastamp. The length of the needles can be adjusted quickly and easily based on what size suits you best. The stamp is preferable to the roller because it won’t get caught up in the hair.

  8. Hi Will,

    So, what happens if you’re someone like me who has been dermarolling for about a month now, but suspects that scalp calcification could be a factor? Other than some new, tiny hairs grow in, I haven’t noticed a whole lot of difference in regards to my hair quality (hair overall still very thin, brittle with constant split ends). It’s a little unusual that I my left front hairline is basically completely bald, while my right front hairline still has a bunch of hair (but still thin and some vellus hair areas.

    My routine right now consists of using 0.5mm once a week, then using 0.25mm every other day while applying Emu + Peppermint Essential Oil immediately after each rolling session. I just started spraying about 25 sprays of Magnesium Oil along with the Emu + Pepperminut as well, burns like crazy for like 5-10 minutes.

    I feel like if I have scalp calcification, the dermarolling isn’t going to work well in the long run because it’s squeezing the hair follicles off.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Dave, are you doing daily scalp massages and exercises as well. These are actually much more powerful ways to reverse calcification and increase blood flow.

      • It’s hard to do daily scalp massages in between dermarolling sessions because my scalp is pretty sensitive for about 24 hours afterward. Plus, there is basically no good information regarding proper massage technique (not even in that Choy study).

        • I found a Doctor who is a hair specialist/hair transplant surgeon after wasting about a year with my doctor and dermatologist. He said there are 3 things to do. Rogaine (or generic) foam for men 5% every day. Ketoconazole shampoo 3x a week. It’s an anti-fungal prescription and cleans out your hair follicles so they can function. And the laser cap, not wand, something like 3 alternating days a week for 1/2 hour. It fits under a hat, you can wear it on your commute or before bed etc. This doctor sold them and they cost a couple of thousand dollars. If you get one, find a doctor who can recommend a good one for you, don’t get one blindly off the internet. These are proven hair growth methods and each works on a different part of the hair growth cycle. But here’s the catch: They only work as long as you keep using them. If you discontinue use, all of the hair that was stimulated into growing will return to the way it was before. I asked him about using a needle roller in conjunction with Rogaine and he supported the idea. The only thing he said about cleaning the scalp, was to use a gentle shampoo as harsh shampoos can make sustained hair growth difficult. I don’t know how technically gentle it is, but I use Suave and have had a good result.

  9. Hi Will! Thanks for the all tips you are sharing! I just started using dermaroller (0.25mm + 0.5mm) and this moment I have widow’s peak style receding hairline. In last three months I have had some positive results with using only coconut oil + rosemary&peppermint essential oil combo.

    Instead of mentioned oil mixture in the text do you suggest I continue using coconut oil + peppermint&rosemary combo after dermarolling? Im not the big fan of the emu oil because Im the vegetarian 😀 I guess it is better than nothing.

    • Hi Ville,

      Are you using the oil mixture immediately after dermarolling?

      Will recommends waiting at least 6 hours after dermarolling to apply the mixture you’ve mentioned. It can cause discomfort, and it may hinder healing.

      You can certainly continue with the coconut oil, or you can use magnesium oil.

      – Steph

  10. Hi Rob,
    Which is better- dermaroller or dermapen.
    What if I use 2 mm dermapen?
    Can it provide results or damage the hair follicles forever?

    • Hi Jimmy,

      The dermapen is better, as you can target its use.

      I would recommend starting with 1mm (or at least 1.5mm), as going too deep can damage the follicles.

      – Steph

  11. Hi guys!

    I’ve been Derma rolling for about 3 weeks now and I am starting to see a little bit of results on the front of my hairline, but what does it mean when the front of your hairline gets flaky and dry?

    Please let me know.

    Thank you!

  12. I didn’t think I had any noticeable dandruff, but yesterday I used a boar bristle brush on my head and it started flaking like crazy. I didn’t notice any damage to my scalp or anything but the brush was filled with flakes. So I’m wondering, I read somewhere that I shouldn’t use a boar brush or scalp exfoliation with a flaky scalp. Ive also completed two homemade scalp exfoliations but didn’t seem to see any results. I want to start dermarolling but should I make sure the flaking stops First? Will I still see results from dermarolling and applying the scalp mixture even with a flaky scalp?

    • Hello Jake, there is always going to be some flaking if you use bristle brush against the scalp. It’s basically inevitable. I would start dermarolling even if you have the flaking going on and in the mean time work towards sorting the dandruff problem by optimising your diet and other things that help dandruff.

  13. Hey Will,
    how long does it take to see results?
    Is it okay to use dermaroller for a seventeen year old boy who is suffering from diffused pattern hairloss?

    • It varies for everyone, but I would give it at least 1-2 months. ‘Diffused pattern’ what exactly do you mean by that? Diffuse loss in men is not generally associated with androgenetic alopecia.

  14. Hi will,

    Is it better to use a dermapen instead of a dermaroller or dermastamp? I know it is more expensive but i have all 3 at home which should i use?

    A dermapen is an electric version and all prp treatments use it over the others. What is your take?

    • Hi Josh, I have never tried a dermapen, so for me the dermastamp is the best. I use our own Grogenix adjustable dermastamp so I can perfectly control that size of the needles.

  15. Hi there. I’ve been dermarolling and applying peppermint oil along with rosemary oil ( with a carrier oil) once a week for 4 weeks now. I feel like I’m still having lots of shedding. Is this fairly normal in the early stages of dermarolling?

    • Hi Sunny,

      Some people do experience a shedding period to start off with as your hair cycles through from telogen phase to anagen phase.

      This should cease after a couple of weeks.

      – Steph

  16. Hi will,
    I have read all your advice and for parts of my scalp it has worked. Now for my receeding hairline i am planning to use a derma-roller. The question i have is to i have to do an acid peel on my hairline which is mostly skin. Also, could i use only peppermint oil after dermarolling as i am confused with using lots of oil mixtures so i am wondering if using only peppermint oil is okay.
    A response will be highly appreciated.

    • A peel is not always necessary. I would recommend more than peppermint oil as a topical, however don’t use it straight after rolling. Wait at least 6 hours or it will sting a lot.

  17. Hi, I have bought all Grogenix products and they are great!
    One thing which is missing is a mix that can be applied after the micro-needling sessions – I understand the positive effect of micro-needling is maximised when the proper mix is applied straight afterwards, but the Elixir cannot be used due to stinging. Are you planning on releasing such a product?

    • Hello Ivan, thanks for your support. Glad you like the Grogenix products, we are working to develop them even further. That’s a great point! Microneedling is certainly maximised when applying the right mixture after and the Scalp Elixir is NOT the right product for this as it causes stinging. We are currently working to develop such a product but I can’t say with certainty when it will be ready as we need to test it thoroughly for long term efficacy before releasing it. Hopefully it won’t be too long.
      Will

  18. Hi. I had a FUE hair transplant 1 year ago on the frontline. My previous hair were still there at that time but were not showing any proper growth. They have reduced a lot by now.
    I want to ask that can i use dermaroller only on that area of the scalp where transplant is not being done or can i roll it even on the transplanted area?
    Thank you

    • Hello Muhammad, although you should talk to your doctor first, I can’t for-see any problems microneedling the transplanted area of your hair. And after a year I would think that it would also help to micro-needle the transplanted area too. You should confirm this with your surgeon though.

  19. Hi Will,
    Great info! Thank you so much for pioneering this process. It’s a lot of info to digest and I find I’m getting lost in all of it. Curious if you would be open to a FaceTime consult to review the protocol to make sure I get all of this correct. Possible you could email me to discuss some options? I need to put an end to the constant late night scrolling and searching for my hair loss solution 🙏🏼

    • Hi Chris, thanks for your kind words. Currently we can’t offer one-on-one help because there just isn’t enough time for us and our team right now. But this is actually something we’d like to be able to do in the future, since it looks like it would be helpful for lots of people and really help to accelerate results. Feel free to subscribe to our email group or join the Facebook group and we’ll let you know as soon as that’s up and running.

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