Note: If you are experiencing any hair loss, please see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and testing.
What is a derma roller?
A derma roller is a small roller covered in tiny needles that can range in length from 0.25mm to 1.5mm. When rolled over the scalp or hairline, it creates tiny punctures that can make it easier for the medicinal qualities of topicals and oils to reach the hair follicles. Think of it like aerating a lawn. Doing so helps nutrients, hydration, and sunlight reach the roots, so that healthier grass can grow. Likewise, using a derma roller with topicals and oils can help increase absorption of the products you apply afterwards. A derma roller can also stimulate cell turnover and improve scalp circulation, which provides a healthier environment for robust hair growth.The longer needle lengths (over 0.5mm) are better for stimulating cell turnover, however the longer the needle the higher the risk of injury. If you are interested in experiencing derma rolling with needles over 1.5mm, it is best to seek professional help and not practice this at home.
Which derma roller should I buy for hair growth?
When shopping for the right derma roller to be used on your scalp, needle lengths of 0.25mm to 0.50mm are best. The micro-traumas they create are superficial, and you are less likely to suffer with excessive skin redness and discomfort when you stick to these lengths. Additionally, you do not have to space out your derma rolling treatments to allow for healing time as you would with a 0.75mm or longer derma roller.
Know that using a derma roller does cause slight irritation, similar to shaving your legs but on a smaller scale. Therefore, the topicals or oils you choose should be non or minimally-irritating, particularly if you have a sensitive scalp. Also, it is best to test out your products on the inside of your elbow for a week or two before applying them to your scalp to ensure they will not cause an allergic reaction. While you are doing so, practice derma rolling every few days in order to determine how your scalp will react to it.
How to Derma Roll
When using a derma roller, start by sectioning the areas where you are experiencing hair loss. For example, if you have Androgenic Alopecia with a widening part and some diffuse thinning, you may want to make a middle part, and then create 3-4 horizontal parts. Apply a few drops of oil or topicals into the parts, and then massage them in. You will be passing the derma roller over the parts in the direction of the hair growth 4-5 times. Apply the same amount of pressure that you would if painting a portrait. After you have finished derma rolling, apply a few more drops of oils or topicals, if desired.
To avoid infections and injuries:
- Sanitize the derma roller before and after each use by soaking it in 70% or more isopropoly alcohol. Make sure it is completely dry before using, and do not use it on wet hair.
- Use cotton balls to apply your oils and topicals to your scalp. Do not apply them to the derma roller.
- If you drop the derma roller or it gets crushed or damaged in any way, discard it. Bent needles can cause injuries.
- Replace worn derma rollers every two months.
Here is a video demonstrating the technique:Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSWdNJ-TS3E
Recommended Topicals and Oils
Not all hair loss is the same, and some products that work for certain types of hair loss are ineffective for others. Additionally, topicals and oils may be ineffective for certain types of hair loss, particularly if they are caused by an autoimmune condition such as Lupus.
Minoxidil (brand name: Rogaine)
Best for: Androgenic Alopecia (also called Male or Female Pattern Thinning), hair loss due to PCOS
This is the first-line, FDA-approved treatment for thinning due to an excess in androgenic hormones. It generally presents as a widening part and diffuse thinning at the top of the head. It also tends to run in families. Minoxidil halts this type of hair loss, and can help to regrow hair in approximately six months. If you grow hair when using it, then that hair will fall out when you stop using it. Minoxidil (or Rogaine) primarily comes in two strengths: 2% and 5%. Both the men and women’s formulations contain the same ingredients, as do the generic Minoxidil and the name brand Rogaine. So, if cost is a concern, there is no need to purchase the women’s name brand product. As a curly, you may want to avoid the alcohol-based formulations. These generally contain 2% Minoxidil, and require twice a day application. The foam is alcohol-free, contains 5% Minoxidil, and only needs to be applied once a day. It can, however, cause some serious side effects such as a racing heartbeat and skin irritation. A 2% foam alternative is DrFormulas® HairOmega® Foam 2% Minoxidil.
Best for: traction Alopecia, hair loss due to heat or chemical damage
This growth formulation contains the following oils which help to nourish the hair follicles and stimulate hair growth: 100% Pure Jamaican Black Castor Oil, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Wheat Germ Oil, Lemon Oil, Lavender Oil, and Pimento Oil.
Best for: traction Alopecia, hair loss due to heat or chemical damage, Androgenic Alopecia (particularly a receding hairline)
Rosemary has been found to stimulate hair growth as effectively as Minoxidil. Jamaican Black Castor Oil is well-known for its hair growing capabilities. They are combined in this effective formulation that comes in an applicator bottle.
Have you ever used a derma roller? Tell us about your experience in the comments. You can learn more about the benefits of Jamaican Black Castor Oil here.