If you use (or are interested in using) a derma roller, that means you're ready to completely overhaul your skin. These at-home devices, which work by stimulating your skin to regenerate itself, are like a lighter version of the in-office tools dermatologists use, and can help even out skin tone, fade unwanted scarring, and brighten your overall complexion. But the
derma roller that you choose is only one half of the equation. The other half is finding the best serum to use with your derma roller. Since the derma roller is literally creating micro-tears in your skin, it's imperative that the serum you use before and during your rolling session is in line with the results you're hoping to achieve. So if you're looking for hydration, something like a hyaluronic acid serum would be ideal. If you're looking to brighten your skin or fade hyperpigmentation, a vitamin C serum would be a great choice. Also, make sure you're looking closely at the label for ingredients that might be irritating. Even if your skin isn't hyper-sensitive, these products are deeply penetrating your skin, which means their effects are supercharged.
Make sure you're applying plenty of serum to your face before rolling, adding more as you go if needed. Then, massage slightly more into your skin once you're done before putting on your moisturizer.
Derma rolling should be done at night, since it makes your skin more photo-sensitive, and also because nighttime is when your skin does the most regenerating.
Ahead, you'll find the best serums to use with a derma roller. Find the skin concern that matches yours, and go from there.
Best Serum For Dry, Sensitive Skin
First Aid Beauty is known for its gentle hydrating products, which is part of what makes the brand's
Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum so perfect for sensitive skin types. Its star ingredient is colloidal oatmeal, which works to calm and moisturize stressed-out, dehydrated skin. Also included in the formula are hyaluronic acid for hydration; aloe to further soothe and moisturize; and collagen, which plumps skin and can also help even out tone and texture. Since the formula is free of known irritants like synthetic fragrances and dyes, and common allergens like propylene glycol, this is a serum even the most delicate skin types can feel safe derma-rolling with. User review: “This is the best hydrating serum I have used that did not give me a tingling feeling and it seeped into my skin asap! I fully recommend this to people with dry or sensitive skin. My face feels soft all day. It’s worth it’s money.” 02
Best Affordable Serum For Sensitive, Irritated Skin
For an even cheaper option that’s safe for dry, sensitive skin, consider
PURITO Centella Unscented Serum. Rich in soothing and strengthening ingredients like centalla asiatica, ceramides, and panthenol, this unscented serum is a gentle choice that may be able to help heal and nourish damaged, irritated skin — though it’s important to note that if you are indeed dealing with damage or irritation, you may want to lay low on the derma-rolling for a while. Once your skin is strong again, though, this is a great serum to incorporate into your rotation, with or without your dermaroller. User review: “If you use retinoids of any kind (Tretinoin, Adapalene, Tazorac, Retinol in any form), this product helps with irritation and redness IMMENSELY. I use adapalene and have tried tretinoin, I use this product immediately after applying either and the next morning I have no redness, no irritation, and no peeling. Can't rave enough about this for sensitive, damaged skin.” 03
Best Serum For Dry And/Or Dehydrated Skin
Another great serum for dry and dehydrated skin types (that also costs a bit less) is
Vichy's Minéral 89 Daily Skin Booster Serum and Moisturizer. The lightweight formula works to plump and brighten your skin from the inside out using hyaluronic acid and glycerin, while the derma roller ensures that this it penetrates deeply, so its effectiveness is enhanced. While this serum is also free of common irritants like alcohol, fragrance, dyes, and parabens — making it another safe choice for sensitive skin types — you won't find the same soothing and calming ingredients like aloe and colloidal oatmeal. That said, if you're looking for general hydration, it's an excellent, affordable choice. User review: “This product is unreal. You can literally feel your skin absorbing it as you smooth and pat it on. Your skin instantly looks revived, calmed, and plumped. I used 1 & 1/2 pumps to completely cover the face and neck, and it absorbed 100%. Literally no residue left behind. Just unbelievably smooth skin.” 04
Best Serum For Oily Skin
Oily skin types should reach for this bottle of
Naturium’s zinc and niacinamide serum. Together, these two ingredients work to reduce excess oil, unclog your pores, and promote generally smoother, clearer skin ( niacinamide is also great for brightening and soothing, among other things). This also contains hyaluronic acid to attract moisture, and though the formula is ideal for oily skin, it can be used by just about anyone. User review: “This serum provided awesome results within ~3 weeks of consistent nightly use - visibly reduced my dark spots, evened out texture, and added an overall glow to my skin. [...] This serum applies very smoothly and interacts well with my other products. The packaging is an extra bonus, it's very luxurious, eco-friendly (glass bottling!), and informative with an explanation of the product ingredients and benefits. For the affordable price-point that this serum is at, it's an absolute steal and I'm excited to try out other products from this line!” 05
Best Serum For Brightening
Vitamin C is one of the
best ingredients for “brightening” — aka promoting a clearer, more even-looking complexion — out there. So naturally, if that’s one of your main skin care goals, reach for this new serum from drugstore-favorite brand CeraVe. Despite being a relatively new launch, it’s already been awarded over 12,000 five-star ratings on Amazon. This gentle serum is bolstered by several other good-for-skin ingredients, like strengthening ceramides, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and once again, niacinamide. So while it’s definitely great for brightening, it ticks off almost every other skin care box as well. An amazing buy for under $20, regardless of skin type. User review: “I have been using this product for a month and have noticed a definite difference. The dark spots and freckles from age and sun damage have definitely faded. My skin tone appears much more even. Ordering it again!” 06
Best Serum For Regenerating
For an affordable option that will keep your skin looking glowy and plump, there's
Olay's Regenerist Micro Sculpting Serum. Like derma-rolling itself, the mix of amino acids in Olay's serum work to regenerate skin, which can help with a loss in firmness and generally less vibrant appearance. The formula is also hydrating and smoothing, and it's noncomedogenic and fragrance-free to boot. User review: “I really, really like this serum. For me, it is the best moisturizer I have ever used. I know it is not sold as such, but basically, that is what I use it for. It is so smooth and silky and vanishes almost immediately while leaving your skin soft, smooth and feeling hydrated.”
If you're looking to use a retinol with your derma roller, this
La Roche-Posay Redermic R Anti-Aging Retinol Serum is a great option. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind before incorporating a retinol into your derma-rolling routine, or vice versa. Whether you've been using a derma roller or a retinol first, you should suspend use for a week when you introduce the other product, just so your skin can get used to it. Then, slowly add in either the derma roller or the retinol, starting with twice a week and then working your way up to a more frequent routine.
This La Roche-Posay serum is a good retinol to use because it's low-grade, which means it won't irritate the delicate lower layers of your dermis, making it a safe option for sensitive skin types. It's also spiked with a version of hyaluronic acid, which helps counteract any dryness that might occur.
User review: “The concentration of retinol in Redermic is evident. I can see the pores on and around my nose clearing, and my face has a radiant and dewy appearance. It feels so much softer, too. This product delivers the benefits of retin-A without the harshness.”
If you still want to exfoliate your skin but don’t want to use something as intense as retinol, pick up
Herbivore’s Prism serum. It contains both BHAs (to clear out your pores) and AHAs (to even out your skin’s texture and tone), but it’s balanced out by hyaluronic acid, rose water, and aloe water to counteract the effects of those acids. So unlike a lot of other exfoliating serums out there, this one is pretty gentle. There’s also some vitamin C in here for a boost of brightening, while the holographic bottle offers UV protection to keep all of the ingredients inside fresh. User review: “Wow. Within a day I noticed results. It’s easy on the skin, yet exfoliates so well!! I’m never looking back!” 09
Best Splurge For Dewy Skin
If you’re all about dewy skin à la makeup artist
Nam Vo, this serum from Tatcha is the one for you. How does it promote such dewy, glowy skin, you might ask? With hyaluronic acid, which is known for its hydrating and plumping abilities; with three Japanese “superfoods,” including green tea, rice, and algae that each come from a different part of Japan; and with lactic acid, a gentle exfoliant that helps turn over your skin cells for a smoother, clearer complexion. There’s also squalane in here for even more moisture. Combined with a dermaroller, your skin will look positively cherub-like the next day. 10
Best Affordable Face Oil
In addition to serums, you could also use a
face oil for dermarolling. Though face oils aren’t as rich in targeted active ingredients, they do provide even more slip — and tend to leave your skin literally glowing. This one by Burt’s Bees is amazing because it’s super gentle, and it’s even USDA-certified organic, so you’re literally getting top-quality stuff in this bottle (like sunflower, jojoba, and pomegranate oils, as well as vitamin E and rosehip extract). There are absolutely no fillers, fragrance, or unnecessary additives in the formula, yet somehow it costs just $15 on Amazon. User review: “My skin is very sensitive. Badger Balm seems to be one of the few brands that doesn't irritate me. I already use the unscented oil cleanser and finally decided to give this a try. It's amazing. It sinks into your face quickly so you're not left feeling greasy or itchy. I have a very dry forehead which call for multiple applications of moisturizer a day. Since purchasing this, I apply it just once a day to keep my forehead (and entire face, neck, hands) soft.”
face oil to consider — this time from luxury spa brand ELEMIS (best known for their cult-favorite cleansing balm and moisturizer, which would both be amazing additions to your pre- and post-rolling routine). It’s packed with nutrient-rich skin “superfoods” (hence its name) like broccoli, rosehip, daikon radish, and flax seed oils, for all sorts of antioxidant and fatty acid benefits. Combined with a dermarolling session, your skin will be left supple, plump, and literally glowing. User review: “I have sensitive oily skin with dry itchy patches, and prone to break outs. Two drops a night for two months calms everything down, gives me that healthy peachy glow, without any break outs.”
“I absolutely love this facial oil, however, it feels more so like a serum as it absorbs quite well into the skin and leaves a beautiful healthy glow. [...] I’ve been using it for over a year now and as some who is prone to breakouts (having had acne growing up) as well as dryness and flaking, I find this works beautifully on my skin in no way aggravating it.”