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, thereby pushing the product you use with it deeper into your skin (and supercharging its effects), 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. What Serum To Use With Microneedling
As mentioned above, applying a serum in tandem with your derma roller fast-tracks the serum’s already-potent effects. (A serum also gives the derma roller better slip, so it’ll glide smoothly and evenly against your skin.) So, put simply, you can use any serum whose targeted effects you can most benefit from. A hyaluronic acid serum is a failsafe choice, since it’s compatible with all skin types, but it’s especially ideal for dry or dehydrated skin. If you're looking to brighten your complexion or fade hyperpigmentation, a
vitamin C serum would be a great choice. If you’re hoping to promote firmer skin, a serum with strengthening amino acids will work beautifully.
Keep in mind that microneedling
is creating (painless and tiny) micro-tears in your skin, so make sure you're looking closely at the label for ingredients that might be irritating, even if your skin doesn't tend to be sensitive. Some dermatologists advise against using serums with chemical exfoliants in tandem with a derma roller for that same reason — they can simply be too harsh in this setting. I’ve included a relatively gentle AHA/BHA serum on this list, but it’s really only advised for people whose skin is very tolerant to exfoliants.
Once you’ve chosen your serum, make sure you're applying plenty of it 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.
The Best Derma Roller 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
The Best Affordable Derma Roller 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 centella 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 derma roller. User review: “I have dry and sensitive skin with mild rosacea on my cheeks. This serum is smooth and lightweight. It's the only product I've changed in my skincare routine and in the past few weeks of using it (AM and PM), I've noticed a reduction in texture, and less redness in my cheeks. It's a great serum with awesome ingredients at an affordable price. I will continue to repurchase!” 03
The Best Derma Roller 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: “I am not joking when i say that my face has never in my life been better. The consistency of this product is great and the face absorbes it up very quick. I put this on day and night and i cannot stress how happy i am with this. My pores have minimized GREATLY, all my pimples are gone all i have left is some acne scars. And my face is GLOWING and sooooo smooth. I definitely recommend this product !!!!!” 04
The Best Derma Roller Serum For Brightening
Also available at Ulta, $26
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 vitamin C serum from drugstore-favorite brand CeraVe, which has been awarded over 18,000 five-star ratings on Amazon. This gentle, fragrance-free 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!” 05
The Best Derma Roller 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.” 06
The Best Derma Roller Retinol Serum
Also available at Ulta, $51
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.” 07
The Best Derma Roller Exfoliating Serum
If you still want to exfoliate your skin but don’t want to use something as intense as retinol, pick up
Farmacy’s Honeymoon Glow serum. It contains 1% BHA (to clear out your pores), 10% AHAs (to even out your skin’s texture and tone), and 3% flower acids, but it’s balanced out by hyaluronic acid, jojoba esters, argan oil, and a moisture-attracting honey blend to counteract the effects of those acids. So unlike a lot of other exfoliating serums out there, this one is pretty gentle and hydrating, so a solid choice for derma rolling. Even still, you should do a patch test with your derma roller first to make sure it doesn’t irritate your skin, especially as some Amazon reviewers with sensitive skin report mild tingling upon first application. User review: “This product has made such a huge change in my skin, it’s cleared up all kinds of bumps and little breakouts on my chin. I started with applying every other night and it did sting the first couple times but now I use it almost every night and it doesn’t dry me out at all.” 08
The Best Derma Roller Serum For 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. The lightweight formula works to plump and brighten your skin 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.” 09
A Splurge-Worthy Derma Roller Serum 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 derma roller, your skin will look positively cherub-like the next day. User review: “For the first time ever, I have dewy skin and it is due to this wonderful, magical serum. I literally become happy when its time to apply TATCHA; I love the changes it has brought to my skin. Normally, the price would be out of my spending range. But this is an absolute MUST-HAVE product for me. The results are wonderful and long-lasting and it really makes my skin look and feel GOOD.” 10
A Serum To Use After Derma Rolling: This Affordable Face Oil
Since your derma rolling session enhances the absorption of your serum of choice, it’s not really necessary to use
another serum afterward. Instead, consider following up with a face oil — your prepped skin will drink up the oil’s hydration, as well as its protective and soothing properties. This one by Badger is amazing because it’s super gentle, and it’s even USDA-certified organic, so you’re getting top-quality stuff in this bottle (like argan, jojoba, and pomegranate oils). There are absolutely no fillers, synthetic fragrance, or unnecessary additives in the formula, yet somehow it costs under $20 on Amazon. Pro tip: You could also use a face oil in tandem with your derma roller, in place of a serum — 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. User review: “Excellent product. I stopped using big name lotions full of bizarre ingredients, and this oil has been an excellent replacement. Moisturizes well, not shiny, 100% free of any questionable ingredients. One squirt is all you need; bottle lasts a long time. Highly recommend!” 11
A Serum To Use After Derma Rolling: The Luxury Face Oil
Also available at Ulta, $55
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 derma rolling session, either during or afterward, your skin will be left supple, plump, and glowing. User review: “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.” Don't miss a thing
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