In 2017, 60% of American men said they sometimes, or always, had a beard. It is clear that the bear is very strongly back in fashion.
And we're not just talking stubble, with thick and fulsome beards once again becoming a popular styling choice for men across a broad range of demographics.
But what do you do in instances where your beard simply isn’t coming in as thick or as you’d like? In this instance, derma rolling may provide a viable solution, but what exactly is this and how does it aid beard growth?
Do Derma Rollers Actually Promote Hair Growth?
In a bid to grow thicker and more eye-catching beards, men are turning in their droves to so-called “derma rollers”. These devices have been around for years, having previously been used to treat acne scars, reduce large and oversized pores and even address wrinkles in older age.
To achieve these aims, derma rollers deploy a process called ‘microneedling’. Rollers are covered in small titanium or stainless steel needles to gently pierce the outer layer of the skin, in order to stimulate the production of small amounts of collagen in the skin.
Collagen is known to be key in the growth and regeneration of specific cells, while it also comprises amino acids (which hair follicle cells in particular use to produce keratin proteins). These proteins are also known to actively promote and encourage hair growth, while strengthening the hair that already exists.
But how else can derma rolling help to stimulate hair growth? Well, some studies have suggested that the process of microneedling is capable of increasing nutrient-rich blood flow to the target area of the body. This type of circulation is considered key to healthy and sustainable hair growth, so derma rolling can prove to be a highly effective technique over time.
On a similar note, a derma roller is also capable of activating stem-cell growth factors during periods of continued use. This may slow or even reverse the process of shrinking hair follicles, which can occur over time and gradually cause scalp and facial hair to diminish.
How to Use a Derma Roller
The functionality of derma rollers is relatively simple, wherever it’s applied to the body. In the case of attempting to stimulate facial hair growth, the mechanism works as follows:
The small needles attached to the derma roller (see below) gently puncture the skin, eventually covering the required area of facial skin
At this stage, our bodies begin to recognise the slight damage caused and commences the natural healing process
As part of this process, circulation and blood flow to the area begins to improve, as nutrient and hormone-rich blood is dispatched to the facial area
As the production of collagen and keratin protein occurs naturally following the process of microneedling, the components also aid follicle stimulation and help to activate the androgenic hormones (which are critical to hair growth across the body)
When it comes to the available needles for derma rollers, these vary in terms of size. In fact, you can get needles up to 1.5mm, but these are completely unsuitable for facial hair as the follicles in this area are much smaller and the hair considerably thinner.
The largest size needle you should use for derma rolling facial hair is 0.5mm, while you can also use slightly smaller accessories that are 0.25mm in diameter. Interestingly, the size of needle that you choose also impacts on how often you should use your derma roller.
More specifically, larger needles up to 0.5mm should be used no more than once or twice a week on the target area. Conversely, smaller, 0.25mm needles can be used more often (perhaps up to four times each week), but it’s imperative that you allow your skin regular opportunities to repair in between individual treatments.
During the process of derma rolling, you’ll need to maintain even and consistent pressure across the target area. This will ensure even results and ensure that desirable facial hair growth is encouraged throughout, while you should also avoid applying too much pressure and try to move the roller smoothly across your skin.
The best rule-of-thumb is to apply as much pressure as required to keep the needles in contact with the surface of your skin. To help achieve this, you may want to consider filling each cheek with hair (as you may do when shaving) in order to create a firmer surface that’s easier to trace with the derma roller.
On the subject of best practice, you should aim to gently roll the derma roller back and forth in smooth lines, which stretch both vertically and horizontally.
You can also conclude the process by tracing diagonal lines in both directions with the derma roller, as this guarantees and consistent and even pattern throughout your facial hair.
Addressing Maintenance and Risks – The Key Considerations
Whether you use your derma roller once or four times each week, you’ll have to clean and sanitise the accessory after every single use.
There are two primary reasons for this. Firstly, each of the needles used on a derma rollers will puncture the surface of the skin and reach the epidermis, potentially exposing it to harmful bacteria. If you fail to clear the derma roller before the next microneedling session, you’ll by inviting such bacteria deeper into the layers of skin and potentially causing huge health issues in the future.
Secondly, regularly cleaning and maintaining your device will ensure that it remains fit for purpose over an extended period of time, enabling you to optimise its performance and get genuine value for your hard-earned cash.
But how exactly should you clean your derma roller? While there are several ways in which you can disinfect the device, a quick and effective method is to dip it in pure alcohol and allow it to dry.
Then, simply spray the device with a sanitiser spray or some form of ultraviolet sterilisation tool, before taking the care to store it in a clean and dry place.
Undoubtedly, the risk of infection is potentially high when using a derma roller, especially if you fall to clean the device in between treatments.
Other risks associated with derma rollers include the slight threat posed by skin irritation, with minimal redness and inflammation commonplace immediately after treatment. This is particularly relevant when you’re new to derma rolling, but the good is that this should subside a couple of days after usage.
It’s also possible (albeit genuinely rare) to experience minor bleeding after the use of a derma roller. Once again, this should be minimal and subside quickly, but in instances where it becomes excessive, you may want to change to smaller needles or apply less pressure during treatment.
Are There Other Beard Growth Strategies That Can Help?
As we can see, there are various ways in which you can optimise the impact of your derma roller, from regular maintenance and utilising smaller (and fewer) needles on the device to washing your face thoroughly before use.
Interestingly, you can also consider adopting alternative beard growth strategies to help aid the use of a derma roller, increasing your chances of growing a thick and fulsome beard in the process.
We’ve outlined a few of these below, so you can hopefully boost the thickness and shine of your facial hair while potentially developing a much healthier lifestyle:
#1. Improve Your Diet: We’ve already spoken about how derma rolling improves circulation and boosts the flow of nutrient-rich blood to your skin. This process can also be aided through the consumption of a healthy and balanced diet, which is focused on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and wholegrains. The key here is balance, as you’ll want to tap into the nutrients that can stimulate hair growth and optimise your wellbeing, including iron, zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin E.
#2. Exercise, Exercise and Exercise Some More: On a similar note, few things get the blood pumping to the skin quite like regular exercise! Make no mistake, exercise and recurring physical activity (particularly high intensity and cardio workouts) actively improve the circulation to your skin and face, while reducing bodily inflammation over time. Inflammation can damage hair follicles and interrupt the body’s natural functions, so staying active will optimise your physical wellbeing and ensure that your facial hair grows even, thick and strong!
#3. Understand Your Body’s Sleep Cycle: Sleep plays a key role in our health and wellbeing, but did you know that it may also promote hair growth and maintenance. After all, the duration and quality of your sleep has a direct impact on the body’s natural hormone production, with poor or inadequate sleep potentially reducing your levels of melatonin and causing hair loss. A lack of sleep can also trigger the type of psychological stress that causes telogen effluvium and subsequent hair loss, so creating a viable routine in which you get between eight and 10 hours sleep each day is crucial.
The Last Word
Derma rollers are increasingly commonplace in the UK, particularly as beards become more popular and men look to grow thick and fulsome facial hair.
However, it’s crucial that you combine the use of derma rollers with other beard growth strategies, including the consumption of a healthy diet, the pursuit of regular exercise and the cultivation of a consistent sleep cycle.
At the same time, the use of certain products can also help to aid facial hair growth. The regular use of cleansers and dedicated moisturisers for the face and scalp can help to hydrate the skin beneath your hair, aiding growth and preventing pores from becoming blocked over time.