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Microneedling for hair loss: How it works to promote hair growth

How can rolling hundreds of small needles across your balding head promote hair regrowth?

Written by
Rachael Belfield
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
April 29, 2024
min read
Microneedling for hair loss: How it works to promote hair growth
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We know what you're thinking: how can rolling hundreds of small needles across my balding head promote hair regrowth? It sounds painful! Surely creating wounds across my head would be detrimental to hair regeneration? Can't I just massage my scalp skin with a frothy shampoo instead?

Well, we're here to dive into all things microneedling and how it can help promote hair growth.

What is microneedling?

It might seem counterintuitive, but the concept of microneedling for hair loss is one of the latest, most innovative skin rejuvenation methods on the skincare market [1].

It's effective, simple and far less invasive than hair transplant surgery. Most hair growth clinics out there will offer microneedling procedures to help stimulate your scalp to grow new hairs and boost scalp health — this is becoming a conventional therapy for hair loss.

But, with the right equipment, you can do this at home too.

If you've come across the concept of microneedling before, you've probably seen it marketed toward people with acne scars, hyperpigmentation, irregular skin tone and stretch marks.

But the benefits of microneedling — or derma rolling as it's also known — extend beyond just facial skincare. Turns out, rolling hundreds of tiny needles across your head can indeed improve hair growth — but, it must be done safely and with the right equipment [2].

Does microneedling help with hair loss?

Let's take a closer look at what male pattern baldness is. Male pattern baldness (also known as androgenetic alopecia) is a common hair loss condition in men which results in thinning hair and eventual hair loss [1].

Microneedling works by causing a controlled injury into the dermis in people suffering from male pattern baldness in order to cause a healing reaction in the skin. Growth factors that promote healing are released — the same growth factors that will normally promote hair growth [3]. This is the same for female pattern hair loss.

The wounds caused by the needles will stimulate the production of dermal papillae stem cells and that stimulation is what your head needs to regrow hair.

Microneedling on skin scalp is done with a small, handheld device with a roll of fine needles called a derma roller. You simply hold the handle and roll it across the affected area no more than 3-4 times. And yes: when the derma roller is rolled over the skin, the microneedles on the roller puncture the skin.

But don't worry, this is superficial damage. Depending on your pain threshold, it shouldn't hurt, and the most you will experience is some redness.

Skin pricking is a controlled skin injury — no long-lasting, actual damage to the outer layer of skin will occur, even though you are technically "harming" your scalp.

If you get on top of your baldness quickly using microneedling, there is a lot of evidence to suggest it will reverse hair loss hugely when paired with a hair loss treatment shampoo [3].

Does microneedling actually stimulate hair growth?

Yes! Microneedling treatment for skin stimulates elastin and collagen production, thereby treating various skin concerns (e.g. reducing the appearance of scars, fine lines, wrinkles, etc.)— and hair loss is included in this [4].

By causing microscopic wounds, the body's healing response kicks in and, in turn, boosts collagen production and activates hair follicle growth in the affected areas, stimulating new hair growth and preventing thinning hair.

Can microneedling damage hair follicles?

Microneedling for hair loss won't damage hair loss follicles if it is done correctly and safely. To be clear, microneedling is not advised for people who already have a full head of hair — it's for waking up those dormant hair follicles on balding hair.

In fact, you can actually damage the hair that's on the outside of the scalp as well as the hair follicles underneath the scalp, especially if the needle depth is too much.

This is why a derma roller's needle length should not be more than 1mm — any longer can over-penetrate the skin and cause infections.

Microneedling will not cause any long-lasting harm to your scalp if done correctly and safely.

How often should you use microneedling for hair loss?

Microneedling for hair loss is a simple treatment, but it's not a one-off treatment — it's a process that works over multiple uses.

For best results, you can expect to be using your derma roller regularly 1-2 times a week. You may start to see results at the 3-4-month mark, but most people report seeing results at the 6-month mark.

It's a long haul, but completely worth it: if it works, it can help bring your hair back.

Can microneedling every day damage my scalp skin?

Yes. Microneedling for hair loss every day is unnecessary and will actually take you backwards. Your skin needs a chance to recover as the scalp's wound healing is what makes this technique so effective.

Everyday use can cause damage to the skin, which may lead to inflammation. Thus, it should be used depending on the sensitivity of your skin.

How to do microneedling on my scalp

Microneedling on your scalp is simple. But, it's important you are doing it in a totally clean environment as you are, essentially, creating small wounds across your dermal layer.

If you are ensuring cleanliness, you can cause infection and inflammation to your scalp.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use your derma roller safely.

  • Disinfect: Let your derma roller soak in 70% isopropyl alcohol for approximately 5-10 minutes [6]. Make sure it is completely dry before use.
  • Wash: Use a clean, low-fragrance, effective shampoo and conditioner for ridding your scalp of dead skin and dirt. Ensure your hair is totally dry before you apply your derma roller. Do not use it on wet hair.
  • Roll up: Once your hair is dry, roll the device over the area horizontally, vertically and then diagonally. You should apply enough pressure to feel a slight prickling of the scalp, but not enough to cause pain. Do this up to 3-4 times in each direction.

Microneedling aftercare

After rolling, the skin over your scalp may be:

  • Red for a couple of hours
  • Feel like you've experienced a slight sunburn
  • Feel like your scalp is pulsing — this is because the blood is circulating as your skin starts to repair itself.

If you are feeling pain or a burning sensation, more than just a light sunburn, speak to a healthcare provider. After microneedling, we recommend the following steps to ensure you keep safe:

Oil up

This is where essential oils are useful for your hair regrowth journey. Massage a diluted essential oil such as lavender, or even caster oil, into the scalp using cotton balls.

Do this over the tiny punctures and let it absorb into your skin. We recommend you stick with therapeutic-grade essential oils in order to avoid infections, otherwise, you could damage your skin and actually contribute to further hair loss.

Clean up

After each microneedling session, you must sanitise and disinfect the tool. The hundreds of tiny needles that have just punctured your skin will have traces of your dead skin cells on it, so ensuring it is sanitised and dry for your next use is very important.

For the first few days after microneedling, you will want to avoid any products that contain harsh exfoliants, especially chemicals such as glycolic acid or alpha hydroxy acids on the scalp.

Avoid using any products that are highly fragranced with synthetic chemicals.

How soon will my hair grow back after microneedling?

After ongoing microneedling treatments, people have reported seeing a difference in their hairline within 8-12 weeks — but, it does depend upon your hair follicles.

Most of the clinical evidence suggests using a topical hair growth shampoo alongside a microneedling treatment, as well as engaging with clinical hair growth treatment. Doing a combination of these things will put you in the best position possible for faster hair regrowth.

Pilot’s Hair Growth Booster Kit includes everything you need to tackle hair loss. The kit includes a microneedling tool with needles at 1mm in size to help with your scalp health as well as the Biotin Hair Gummies, which are formulated with biotin aka vitamin B7.

Biotin is important because it supports the synthesis of Keratin, the protective protein that makes up your hair (and makes it stronger and less prone to damage).

Rounding out the kit is Pilot's Thicken Shampoo & Keep Conditioner, which is formulated with ingredients that are known for their efficacy in assisting healthy hair growth including saw palmetto, niacinamide, biotin, zinc and caffeine.

You can also support your hair growth with the help of Pilot's clinical hair loss treatment, which helps to block the action of the enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) — a hormone that stops hair growth.

Plus, accessing pattern hair loss treatments is made even simpler with Pilot as your consult with our Aussie practitioners are all online and your treatment plan is delivered to your door in discreet packaging — no need to take a trip to the doctor or pharmacist.

You can speak to Pilot's hair growth experts for more information about treatment plans. Men who treat hair loss in the early stages can prevent further balding and have a better chance at regrowing their hair.

Image credit: Getty Images

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