I Tried Liquid Microneedling For Fading Acne Scars With No Downtime
No bleeding or needles needed.
tWhen it comes to treatments that fade acne scars, microneedling reigns supreme. If the dramatic “before and after” pics all over your FYP don’t immediately have you signing over your next paycheck, you can check out the studies that show reduced dark spots, pimple scars, and uneven skin texture from the derm-loved treatment. However, having thousands of super thin, sharp needles puncture my face means canceling plans, because whenever I get the treatment done, my skin is bright red, covered in scabs, ultra-sensitive, and peeling for a week. So, when I learned about a brand new “liquid microneedling” treatment that came to the U.S. from South Korea at the end of last year, I was curious how the results (and downtime) stacked up to the OG.
After dealing with pretty consistent acne outbreaks in middle and high school, I’ve tried to minimize a lifetime of scars and achieve a Hailey Bieber-esque glazed complexion using a mix of vitamin C serums, consistent sunscreen application, facials that include blue light therapy (great for killing bacteria that cause your breakouts), and more recently, microneedling. The results were, in one word, incredible — the improvement to my acne scars after just one treatment was honestly mindblowing — but missing a weekend of fun because my face was a bloody mess? Not ideal. So, I booked an appointment at YA Skin Studio in Chicago after I found out that CELLSTORY Liquid Microneedling can achieve similar results, minus any pain, downtime, and redness.
What Is Liquid Microneedling, Exactly?
Needle-phobes (myself included) probably struggle with willingly having thousands pierce your face, even in the name of perfect skin. However, this exact process of creating controlled mini wounds on your skin stimulates your face to heal by creating new collagen and elastin. Unlike the needles used in regular microneedling, however, CELLSTORY Liquid Microneedling uses 50,000 microspears — basically microscopic liquid needles — made from purified freshwater-grown sponges. Using an eight-step program, this facial cleanses your skin, creates tiny channels for serums and toners to be absorbed, and boosts collagen levels. The TLDR: Your skin will apparently look plumper, more scar-free, and much more youthful.
The Cost Of Liquid Microneedling Was Pretty $$
My liquid microneedling treatment at YA Skin Studio costs $280 for one session, but they recommend going four times total over four weeks for the best results, which is a pretty big investment. In contrast, my microneedling session was $400, and they also encouraged me to go about three times for optimal results.
Each spa uses the same eight-step program “box” with the same products, so you can expect uniform results whenever you go. You can also get a liquid microneedling home version — a $499 Blue Perfection Line for acne or a $350 Gold Collagen Line for aging — with 10,000 microspears versus the 50,000 you’d get doing it with a specialist.
Liquid Microneedling Didn’t Really Hurt... But It Wasn’t A Comfortable Sensation
Shortly after I settled in at YA Skin for my liquid microneedling appointment, my esthetician told me she wouldn’t be using any kind of numbing agent on me like they do for regular microneedling. That being said, liquid microneedling isn’t completely painless — she said one client compared it to feeling like “someone gently rubbing crushed glass” over their face — and I started stressing out laying on the facial cot.
I tried to relax as my esthetician began the 45-minute eight-step microneedling process, which started with the application of a gentle cleanser, toner, and essence, which made my face feel kind of hot. These prep steps reminded me of a typical Korean skin care routine. Next, she began gently applying the CELLSTORY Liquid Microneedling Ampoule to my face, which looked like little dabs of cream coming out of the tube.
I could definitely see where someone might say it felt like crushed glass gliding across their skin, but to me, it was more like someone’s nails were scratching my face. I definitely felt more sensitivity around my eye area and cheeks, but it was more uncomfortable than actually painful.
Immediately after rubbing the liquid microspears into my skin, my esthetician put a cooling gel on my face, and then began rolling it into my skin with a rose quartz roller. My skin was still pretty sensitive, and it felt prickly when she applied pressure with the roller. The calming mask, which was followed by a gentle cream, cooled my skin, but the prickling sensation returned once it came off. Looking in the mirror, however, I was surprised to see that my face didn’t look irritated or inflamed at all.
My blackheads on my nose were also gone (a surprising benefit of the treatment), my fine lines were nonexistent, and redness on my cheeks and side of my chin where a breakout had popped up that morning had also completely disappeared.
So, Is CELLSTORY Liquid Microneedling Worth It?
Overall, I think trying liquid microneedling was well worth it for the glowing results and how much it improved my acne scars with zero downtime. I also liked that there weren’t any restrictions on working out, what products I could use on my face, and wearing makeup after that first night. In contrast, for traditional microneedling, I was told not to exercise for 48 hours, and I couldn’t wear makeup or do my regular skin care regimen for about two to three days.
My esthetician told me to wait until the morning to wash my face in order to let the microspears continue to penetrate my skin, but that was it for upkeep. I noticed a prickly sensation, almost like lightly touching a cactus, when I lay on my pillow at night, but I was able to fall asleep pretty easily. My skin still felt a little sensitive when I washed my face the next morning, but that dissipated once I did a thorough cleanse.
For the next few weeks, I felt a lot more confident going out without makeup because my pore size, skin plumpness, and skin tone looked so much better. I did notice a small improvement in the reduction of my acne scars after just one treatment, but I think I would have to put aside the budget to try liquid microneedling a few more times to see how big of a difference it could make fading more stubborn spots I’ve had for years.
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Merati M, Woods C, Reznik N, Parker L. An Assessment of Microneedling with Topical Growth Factors for Facial Skin Rejuvenation: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2020 Nov;