What To Do Before And After A Microneedling Treatment To Protect Your Skin From Sun Damage
Everything you need to know about the non-invasive skin rejuvenation treatment from the science to the post care SPF.
By Saskia Courtenay | 10 Min. ReadFebruary 5, 2023
What is microneedling?
Microneedling is a minimally invasive dermatological treatment used to rejuvenate skin and stimulate the production of fresh collagen and elastin. Traditionally known as collagen induction therapy, in-clinic microneedling uses myriad microscopic sized, super fine needles to create tiny punctures in the skin. Each treatment takes around 10- 20 minutes to complete.
How does microneedling work?
Essentially microneedling is based on the skin’s own reparative ability. Treatment works by forcing the skin to produce more collagen and elastin through a series of safe and expertly administered micro piercings.
As the micro needles gently and repetitively perforate the skin, they create tiny micro-channels. The body responds to this perceived dermal injury by increasing collagen and elastin production to help heal and revive the skin. This results in a plumper, more youthful looking complexion that appears smoother and firmer. A series of In-clinic microneedling treatments can deliver the same efficacy of results experienced after light or laser therapy. Results are typically observed after a course of four sessions. Treatments are recommended at 3-8 week intervals. However, results continue to ameliorate over time as new collagen continues to be formulated for three-six months post treatment.
What skin concerns does microneedling treat?
- Microneedling has efficacious results on skin conditions spanning:
- Acne scars
- Hyperpigmentation/ melasma
- Skin texture
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Stretch marks
- Post traumatic burns and scarring
What skin conditions/health concerns will stop me having microneedling?
Avoid microneedling if you have:
- Active acne with inflamed pustules
- Moderate to severe rosacea or psoriasis
- Skin warts
- Are on blood anticoagulants
- Are undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy
What does the procedure feel like on the skin and is it painful?
Microneedling is a painless treatment, when professionally performed in-clinic, your dermatologist will apply a topical anesthetic gel to limit any discomfort. Patients often experience a light prickling sensation during treatment and skin feels sunburnt in the days after, with visible redness remaining for around 24 hours.
What should I avoid using and doing in the days before my microneedling treatment?
Prepping skin in the right way before microneedling is critical to the treatment’s success.
Stop using topical actives in your skin regime for a full week before you schedule your microneedling appointment. This means all chemical exfoliants, aka AHA’s, (alpha hydroxy acids) such as glycolic, lactic and mandelic acids are strictly off limits. BHA’s (beta hydroxy acids) such as salicylic acid are also on the avoid list.
Retinoids and any active form of Vitamin A such as retinol, tretinoin or retinyl palmitate should also be omitted alongside any topical antibiotics. All these can induce increased skin sensitivity.
If you have acne scarring and have been on prescription drug Accutane (or roaccutane) you must stop your prescription and wait at least six months before starting any microneedling treatments.
In the week leading up to any microneedling appointment avoid any prolonged UV radiation exposure. That means zero sunbathing, beach days and any outdoor activity that could result in sunburn. Wear a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and broad-spectrum mineral SPF at all times when outside.
If you use Botox or any other injectables, ensure you leave a gap of at least two weeks between microneedling and Botox appointments.
What about post microneedling treatment care?
The skin has received multiple micro-injuries. This not only means that over time it will be more responsive to actives but synthesize new collagen. In the shorter term it needs consistent and informed care to heal healthily. Follow these steps to help your skin recover:
Avoid topical actives for a minimum of 72 hours after a microneedling treatment. These include all AHA’s, BHA’s, Vitamin A derived retinols/ retinoids and Vitamin C.
Don’t expose skin to the sun for at least 48 hours and up to two weeks after microneedling. Layer up in sunglasses, hat and protective clothing for necessary trips outside such as walking to the parking lot from your house, collecting groceries, etc.
Wear a chemical- free mineral SPF all day every day from 24 hours after your first microneedling treatment. The day of your treatment it’s important to leave skin bare and remain indoors. The next day add in a mineral based broad-spectrum sunscreen and reapply thoroughly every two hours.
Topical Solution: Sunsolve MD’s Ultra Calming Mineral SPF50 is the ideal post microneedling SPF. Enriched with a unique anti-redness complex, this nourishing, rich mineral SPF formula has a calming, restorative effect on the skin. Add to that its ability to visibly correct and blur any residual skin redness and it’s easy to see why this new hero product is earning a coveted place in Dermatologist’s post- procedure skincare kits.
Stay away from the pool Harsh chemicals in swimming pool water can irritate skin, which is very susceptible to chemical damage post microneedling. Don’t swim for a minimum of 24 hours after treatment.
Give your HIIT class/gym session/spinning a miss Avoid high impact exercise, cardio workouts and hot yoga for at least 72 hours after microneedling. The salt in sweat can aggravate and irritate the micro-perforations in the skin and as a result inhibit the healing process. Stick to lower impact movement in well ventilated spaces to avoid excess sweating.
Don’t go for spa treatments Avoid using saunas, steam rooms and any other thermal suite therapies such as hot tubs and Rasuls (mud therapy rooms) that use extreme heat to promote sweating and skin detoxification. Facials, massages, body wraps and exfoliating scrubs are also potentially skin sensitizing. Give all these spa and thermal treatments a break for at least 72 hours post microneedling treatment.
Wait 72 hours before wearing makeup Skin may be swollen and present with patches of visible flaking and peeling. The neck can take slightly longer to recover from microneedling than the skin on the face. Reintroduce makeup in the form of a tinted mineral sunscreen. Sunsolve MD ZnO + Antioxtint is a sheer tinted formula that provides broad-spectrum UVA, UVB and VL protection and uses phytoplankton enzymes to help improve DNA damage caused by the sun.
What happens if I go in the sun after microneedling?
If you prolong UV radiation exposure in the first two weeks after microneedling you risk damaging your dermal health. Why? The newly created ultra fine micro-channels (think of them as invisible holes) in the skin leave it super vulnerable to the damaging effects of the sun. Not only is its barrier function highly compromised, it will more readily absorb UV rays. This can not only result in hyperpigmentation, skin thinning and accelerated photosensitivity, but also completely eradicate the benefits of any previous microneedling treatment.
When is it safe for me to tan after microneedling?
Put simply, no excessive sun exposure is safe. And certainly not advocated by any professional Dermatologist. It’s vital to wait at least two weeks post microneedling before spending time exposed to UV radiation.
After this, ensure you always wear a high-quality broad-spectrum mineral SPF and reapply every 90-120 minutes. A non-nano zinc oxide based formula is one of the safest on the market. Look for a high zinc oxide mineral content of above 10%. All Sunsolve MD’s clinical-grade sun-safe formulas contain The Solve™. This patented technology offers SPF 50 UV (ultraviolet) and VL (visible light) protection in a rich 12% zinc oxide base. It also harnesses the free radical quenching power of zinc oxide to shield skin from harmful environmental aggressors. It’s a critical step for safe sun exposure after microneedling.
How does mineral SPF help protect skin from damage after microneedling?
Broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen after microneedling is the pivotal foundation to skin recovery. Post treatment, the micro perforations in the skin render it even more susceptible to sun damage. A mineral SPF acts as a physical barrier to the full spectrum of light that causes photoaging (UV, and VL or HEV blue light). Innovative new formulas also absorb the damaging energy from UV rays in their zinc oxide or titanium dioxide base. Choose a non-nano zinc oxide formula when using SPF after microneedling.
Zinc oxide has an anti-inflammatory action and also helps balance the skin’s microbiome. This bacteria is key to maintaining skin barrier integrity. This is crucial in hypersensitized skin in the days and weeks following microneedling.
Why is a mineral SPF more efficacious post microneedling than a chemical SPF formula?
Using a mineral SPF is the most unanimous piece of advice given by professional dermatologists. When advising their patients on how to prevent sun damage after microneedling, they will always default to mineral SPF. Why? Because scientifically it stands up. A 2021 clinical study published in the journal Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine examined the use of a mineral sunscreen only compared to a mineral/chemical SPF hybrid formula post microneedling. Evidence proved that the physical/chemical hybrid SPF penetrated more deeply. Pigment was also found among the collagen fibers and the dermal fibroblast cytoplasm. The mineral SPF kept the pigment on top of the epidermis. Clinical studies have also proven that use of a physical mineral SPF after microneedling produced no adverse reactions like itching, sore skin or hyperaemia (blood in the skin). Zinc oxide is proven to be well tolerated on sensitized skin after microneedling. Wear a broad-spectrum zinc oxide SPF and reapply regularly to safely protect your skin in the sun after microneedling.
What’s the history, science and evidence behind microneedling?
The concept of microneedling dates back to 1995 when eminent American Dermatologists Dr Norman Orentreich and Dr David Orentreich described dermal needling in the form of subcision for the treatment of scars.
In 2006, leading Plastic Surgeon Dr Des Fernandes, designed a drum shaped device with multiple fine protruding needles and used it for percutaneous collagen induction. Dr Des Fernandes’ creation sparked a revolution in at-home microneedling that today is also known as dermarollering. There are a wide variety of at-home devices on the market today, but nothing is as safe or effective as an in-clinic microneedling treatment.
Explained scientifically, microneedling creates micropunctures in the skin, which produce a network of micro skin injuries without damaging the epidermis. These micro injuries result in minimal superficial bleeding and initiate a wound healing process. This process releases various growth factors. These include platelet-derived growth factor (PGF- which promotes cell survival and healing) transforming growth factor, again key for wound healing, and fibroblast growth factor (FGF – a polypeptide which repairs and regenerates tissues). After five days, a fibronectin matrix forms that controls the deposition of collagen. This results in skin tightening which continues for up to 5-7 years in the form of collagen III.
A 2009 study led by Dr Des Fernandes originally published in the journal Plastic Reconstructive Surgery demonstrated convincing evidence on the efficacy of microneedling in skin rejuvenation. And, that it has a long-term impact on collagen and elastin retention in the skin. Histological examination of skin treated with four microneedling sessions one month apart showed up to a 400% increase in collagen and elastin deposition at six months post-procedure. So the figures are convincing.
What ingredients should I look for to help soothe and heal skin and maximize results post microneedling?
Post microneedling, skin needs nourishment with the right actives to help alleviate redness, repair the skin barrier and help it to continue to synthesize and store more of that fresh collagen and elastin. 72 hours after treatment you can introduce these into your microneedling after care skincare.
- Vitamin C- (L- ascorbic acid) Aids skin healing and helps alleviate redness.
- Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) A powerful anti-inflammatory that soothes and locks in moisture.
- Epidermal Growth Factors These polypeptides (chains of amino acids) have a potent healing action and are excellent on acne scars.
- Hyaluronic acid (Vitamin B5) The ultimate moisture- binding molecule.
- Peptides such as Matrixyl 3000 (among many others) are proteins that soothe and help skin bind together.
- Ceramides Fatty acids that keep the skin barrier intact and help retain moisture. Ceramides are excellent in post-microneedling skincare as they help heal without irritation. Find them in Sunsolve MD Cera-Soother Technology ™. This targeted anti-inflammatory technology is formulated to soothe the skin’s barrier at lipid level.
Patricia Froes Meyer, Rodrigo Marcel Valentim da Silva et al. Analysis of Immediate Use of Sunscreen After Microneedling, Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, Photomedicine. Nov 2021; 37(6): 521-529
Horst Liebl + Luther C.Kloth. Skin Cell Proliferation Stimulated By MIcroneedles. Journal OF American College Of Clinical Wound Specialists. March 2012; 4(1): 2-6
Aashim Singh and Savita Yadav, Microneedling – Advances And Widening Horizons. Indian Dermatol Online J. Jul-Aug 2016; 7(4): 244-254