Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 11.49.48 PM

We do a ton of strange things in the name of beauty, like pouring hot wax on our legs to remove our body hair. It sounds rough, but as Frenchie famously stated in Grease, beauty is pain. And this next process might sound kind of painful, but it’s actually pretty amazing when it comes to skincare innovation.

Let us introduce you to micro-needling. It’s the process of using a dermaroller full of micro-needles on your skin to improve skin’s texture and pigmentation. The dermaroller is a handheld device that’s kind of like a paintbrush, only instead of bristles there are micro-needles, and you roll it across your skin. As you do this, the micro-needles create tiny pinpricks in your skin.

Now, before you freak out and wonder why in the world anyone would do that to their face, hear us out. These tiny pinpricks do two things: first, they open up the skin to allow better penetration of your products. When your products work better, your skin looks better. Secondly, they apply just enough injury to your skin to send a signal to your brain that there’s some damage it needs to address. Skin is an incredibly resilient organ, so when it goes into repair mode, it will start producing more collagen and elastin to repair and protect itself.

The origins of microneedling were actually discovered through tattooing. In fact, another term for micro-needling is dry tattooing, or tattooing without pigment. Basically, people started noticing that as their tattoos were healing, their skin started to look more supple. Doctors realized that the trauma of the tattoo was spurring the skin create more collagen, thus promoting more elasticity of the skin.

You can get the procedure done by an esthetician or dermatologist. You can also buy a dermaroller and do it yourself. Honestly, we highly recommend having it done professionally, at least the first few times. If you take in your own dermaroller to your appointment, your practitioner can show you how to properly use it.

Now, the million dollar question.: does it hurt? Honestly, it depends on your skin, your pain tolerance, the size of the needles, and the technique being used to apply your roller. Many people report mild discomfort. Some say it feels just like getting a tattoo. One very important thing to know is that you should definitely avoid using a dermaroller on irritated or inflamed skin, or on skin that has active acne eruptions or eczema flare-ups. To get more deets on the process, Refinery29 consulted a board-certified dermatologist, Karyn Grossman, MD, and Kerry Benjamin, an LA-based esthetician. Both professionals have several years of experience with micro-needling and went pretty in-depth on the process, which you can read about here.