Derma rollers are small rollers with a cylinder covered in small needles, normally varying between 0.5-3mm in length. It’s a tool originally designed to help heal acne scars in dermatology. In the 1990s, scientists observed that causing micro-wounds in the outermost layer of skin induces production of collagen: as the skin tries to repair itself. This process is thought to promote hair thickening and hair regrowth. In more recent years, as recently as 2015, clinical studies around androgenic alopecia showed impressive results after using derma roller for hair loss over a period of 12 weeks. Let’s take a look at how the biology of microneedling for hair growth works, as well as cover some techniques on how to use a derma roller.
Importance of collagen in hair growth
To understand the mechanics and why dermarolling works, firstly we need to understand the importance of collagen and its role in hair growth.
As the main component of connective tissue, collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals, making 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content. Collagen molecule consists of amino acids which are wound together to form triple-helices. It is mostly found in fibrous tissues, such as tendons, ligaments and skin. The name collagen comes from the Greek κόλλα (kólla), meaning “glue”, and suffix -γέν, -gen, denoting “producing”.
Collagen is important in human body and, specifically, in hair growth. Although minimally present in the hair shaft itself, collagen is present around the hair follicle bulb: it thickens around the hair root during anagen, the hair growth stage, supporting growth of new hair. Its presence is key, as the follicle loses a few layers of collagen when hair follicle enters catagen – the hair shedding stage.
Collagen fibers also uphold the epidermis – the area in which the hair bulb resides. During ageing process as well as under the influence of lifestyle factors – collagen fibers can get destroyed and fragmented. This causes skin to prolapse in the affected areas, including your scalp, negatively impacting the free flow of blood to the hair follicle root.
Mechanics of derma rollers for hair growth
Derma rollers work in two ways – in addition to prompting scalp to produce more collagen as the needles of the derma roller creates tiny wounds on your scalp. This both, supports the growth stage inside the hair follicle and it also improves blood flow. The dermis reacts to the wound by sending more blood to heal it.
It may be beneficial to apply a solution following your derma rolling routine, although you do need to wait at least 2-4 hours since your scalp would be covered in open wounds and applying any topical solution can cause scalp irritation and effect skin infection.
On scalp you may consider applying peppermint oil or rosemary oil – natural essential oils that promote hair growth and hair re-growth. Initially, consider slowly introducing peppermint oil by mixing it up with some other carrier oil, e.g. castor oil, and then further increasing the ratio, if you find it stinging too much. While applying topical solution can be beneficial, it is definitely not essential to get the benefits from dermarolling your scalp for hair growth.
The best combination for your hair growth routine is to combine it with The Hair Fuel growth mask. Applying the mask and using a microneedling tool on a clean scalp – with 3-4 days in between treatments.
Microneedling delivered by a derma roller also stimulates production of stem cells that increases production of progenitor cells in the hair follicle. Progenitor cells help hair follicles to form hair but stem cells should also be active and present to become progenitor cells. In the recent years, scientists have linked the regulation of adult stem cells with growth and healthy development of hair follicles.
In-clinic microneedling vs home treatment
If you are unsure about how to do it at home, many beauty clinics offer micro needling as a treatment. Because it is delivered by a trained professional, it is easier to work on hard-to-reach areas, such as back of the scalp.
For at-home treatment, you can use either dermaroller or a dermastamp. Dermastamps – which, as the name suggests – consists of a stamp with microneedles at one end which you prick your scalp or skin with. It is really a matter of choice and personal preference. Like explained in the video above, dermastamp gives you better control over pressure and coverage.
How often should you use dermaroller for hair loss?
In the clinical trials for androgenic alopecia, panelists were being treated with the dermarolling once a week. You might want to increase or decrease the frequency of the procedure based on your own specific scalp reaction. Although the frequency of the procedure should not exceed twice a week.
You need to allow sufficient time in between the sessions to allow for cell regeneration. If you are just starting to use a dermaroller or a dermastamp to prevent hair loss, consider the frequency of once in 3 weeks and slowly increasing the frequency up until once a week.
How to dermaroll your scalp for hair growth:
- On dry clean hair, place the derma roller at the edge of where you’d like to target hair thinning or promote hair growth (e.g. the hairline, or on the side over the temples).
- Roll the device slowly over the area, first horizontally then vertically and then diagonally. You should apply enough pressure to penetrate the scalp and feel a slight prickling or tingling, but not enough to cause pain.
- It helps to work in smaller patches of your scalp, rather than trying to cover it all at once. It will help preventing hair getting tangled
- If there is hair in the area, be sure to move in the direction of the hair strands whenever possible to avoid pulling hairs out
- After usage make sure to rinse the roller in warm soapy water and dip it in a disinfecting alcohol solution, and allow the tool to dry
- Always ensure you perform the procedure on clean scalp to prevent infection.
- After dermastamping you can apply a topical solution but not before 2-4 hours have lapsed, such as rosemary or peppermint oil. Or after 3-4 days allowing the scalp to heal, you can apply The Hair Fuel growth treatment to further prompt hair growth for the best results.
How to dermastamp your scalp:
- Separate dry clean hair over the area you want to target hair thinning or instil hair growth
- Stamp carefully over the chosen area applying enough pressure to penetrate the scalp and feel a slight prickling or tingling, but not enough to cause pain
- It helps to start from the front of your hairline and move towards the back for your head. Once you reached the back of your head, you can stamp another row next to the one you just made.
- After usage make sure to rinse the stamp in warm soapy water, dip it in a disinfecting alcohol solution, and allow the tool to dry
- Always ensure you perform the procedure on clean scalp to prevent infection.
- After dermastamping you can apply a topical solution but not before 2-4 hours have lapsed. For the best results, after 3-4 days allowing the scalp to heal, apply The Hair Fuel growth treatment to further promote hair growth.
Choosing the dermaroller for hair growth
There are various types of derma rollers and dermastamps – but mainly their main difference is the size of the needles, type of material the needles are made of, as well as the mechanics of the tool itself.
The needles can be made from various materials and high level of hygiene must be maintained when using derma rollers. Washing with soap and disinfecting in an alcohol solution after each use is an absolute must.
Titanium derma rollers
Titanium is a metal which is renowned for being strong, light and corrosion-resistant. It makes it a better material than stainless steel if you have smaller: 0.2-0.3mm needles. Titanium needles rarely become blunt due to wear and tear. As a result, the derma roller can be used for a long time without reducing its sharpness. However because titanium is a hard metal, it is difficult to sharpen the needles, therefore they came out slightly more blunt than their stainless steel counterparts. In addition, titanium is not inherently sterile metal, therefore additional effort must be made in maintaining it clean, sterile and rust-free. Potential bluntness can lead to skin tears and scars, though this matters slightly less from aesthetic point of view, since the area where it is used for is covered by hair.
Stainless steel derma rollers
Stainless steel is a metal which is formed from an alloy of iron and chromium. Stainless steel is legendary for being hygienic – thanks to its inherent resistance to corrosion due to chromium content and the protective film it forms around the outer surface, protecting against tarnishing and rust. Stainless steel needles are also sharper than titanium, though because the metal is softer, the needles tend to go blunt with time. Derma rollers with stainless steel can only be used once or twice (reminder that surgical blades can only be used once because of that). Due of its extreme sharpness and precision, stainless steel micro needles tend to lead to less tears, so better used on skin where visibility of scars is high.
Needle size for hair growth
It is usually recommended to start with smaller micro needles to help hair growth – 0.5mm and then moving upwards only if necessary, for example if you notice insufficient micro-wounding occurring. You only need to penetrate the dermis – which on scalp has the thickness of just over 2mm, so there is no need to go over that threshold and needles of 0.75mm will suffice. Having said that, reach out to a professional if you want to move above 1.5mm to deliver the procedure as risk of scarring becomes too high.
Speak with your doctor before you consider this treatment, especially if you:
- Have a history of acne, eczema, or open wounds
- Take anticoagulants (blood thinning) and other medication
- Have a condition that slows down healing, e.g. diabetes
Read what else can you do to make your hair grow >>
How does it work with The Hair Fuel?
For the best results in hair growth, you can combine dermarolling with The Hair Fuel system to design your own hair growth routine. Both improve blood flow to scalp, with the difference that The Hair Fuel growth mask not only improves blood flow to scalp, but also delivers its own micro-nutrients to the root of your hair. In order for you to derive maximum benefits from both, we recommend applying The Hair Fuel once a week and dermarolling a few days later.
Can dermastamping help with my hair loss?
Certain health conditions have hair loss and hair thinning as a symptom.
Underactive thyroid hair loss and derma rolling
People with an underactive thyroid or Hashimoto’s disease have thinning hair, as their thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough T3 and T4 hormones to support hair follicle in growing hair. Derma stamp can help hair growth in thyroid conditions to support hair follicle by sending collagen to scalp.
Androgenetic / PCOS hair loss
Women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are prone to androgenetic hair loss and hair thinning. This happens due to excess testosterone converting to a dihydrotestosterone (DHT) molecule which then attaches itself to the roots of your hair causing reduction in size of the hair follicle. In studies, derma stamp has prompted more hair density and thickness in subjects suffering from androgenetic hair loss and thinning, suggesting that dermastamping can help with PCOS related hair loss, as well.
Chemotherapy hair loss
If you are recovering from post-chemotherapy hair loss, dermastamping can help accelerate hair regrowth rate, after you have completed your entire treatment.
Always consult with your physician before undertaking derma rolling or any other hair growth treatment.
Who we are:
The Hair Fuel is an all-natural hair growth mask created by Laura Sagen, who lost a third of her hair after a terrible visit to a hairdresser while suffering from a life-long condition of PCOS associated with androgenic hair thinning. She developed the formulation rooted in science of scalp blood flow, which has become The Hair Fuel growth mask. Since then, her company has helped thousands of people like you to start growing healthy hair.
We work closely with our lab and manufacturers to ensure the highest quality product. But a product alone is never enough – so we hold your hand throughout your own, unique hair growth journey. Our flagship product, The Hair Fuel mask coupled with tailored advice, digital tools and online support are there to help you grow the best hair you can. It’s a big claim – but we’re unafraid to make it. Check out our starter bundles >>
- A Randomized Evaluator Blinded Study of Effect of Microneedling in Androgenetic Alopecia: A Pilot Study (1)
- Response to Microneedling Treatment in Men with Androgenetic Alopecia Who Failed to Respond to Conventional Therapy (2)
- Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Collagen Induction (3)
- Mixture Toxicity of Methylisothiazolinone and Propylene Glycol at a Maximum Concentration for Personal Care Products (4)
- Microneedling and Its Use in Hair Loss Disorders: A Systematic Review (5)
- Micro needling: A novel therapeutic approach for androgenetic alopecia, A Review of Literature, (6)
1. How does The Hair Fuel treatment work?
The Hair Fuel works by improving blood flow to your scalp and hair follicles. The blood vessels attached to the derma papillae – or the hair root – carry nutrients and oxygen to the hair, supporting its growth and health. The Hair Fuel works in 2 ways: (1) stimulating the blood flow and (2) delivering the nutrients from the mask as well as your own body.
2. Can I combine dermaroller with The Hair Fuel?
Yes, using it on different days with 3-4 days in between the mask and derma rolling is an excellent addition to your hair growth routine.
3. What’s in the box?
First month subscription box contains a full kit: welcome card, 4 powder sachets, 4 oil sachets, measuring tape, shower cap, mixing bottle, instructions card and science card. Subsequent months boxes only contain 4 powder sachets, 4 oil sachets and a welcome card.
4. Is derma rolling for hair safe?
Use a well disinfected microneedling tool, preferable a dermastamp as opposed to the roller, made of stainless steel with the appropriate length of the needles (up to 0.75mm if conducted at home). This way, derma rolling for hair growth can be a safe, low cost technique to help hair health.
5. Which derma roller size is best for hair?
In home conditions it is important to start with small needles to avoid injuring your scalp beyond what is required by the dermarolling technique. Start with 0.25mm stainless steel needles and move up to 0.75mm over the course of 3-4 months of consistent careful use.