Dermarolling, or microneedling with a derma roller device, is the latest trend in men’s grooming and personal care. Micro-needling is usually associated with facial skincare, and for a good reason, since it has many benefits for the skin, such as a reduction of wrinkles, acne scarring, and hyperpigmentation. However, derma rolling can also be used for stimulating the growth of hair.
In this guide, we will look into the recent trend of using a derma roller, either alone or in combination with topical products, such as minoxidil, for stimulating beard growth and how you can use this popular skincare device for achieving a full beard.
Growing a full beard is not complicated, but it’s a lengthy process, and you may be challenged by the presence of patches with thin beard growth that can prevent you from achieving a full beard.
One solution to this problem is an appropriate partial beard style in which you simply shave off the areas with thin patches while leaving areas with good beard growth intact. With so many partial beard styles, you can always find a style that works well for you.
But the partial beard is not a full beard, and if that is what you desire, you may consider stimulation of beard growth. There are a couple of methods that may work and are worth trying.
When Should You Consider Beard Growth Stimulation?
First, let’s talk about when you should NOT consider beard growth stimulation. Beard growth takes a lot of time, and some might be tempted to speed up the process with extra stimulation. This is not a good reason. It’s best not to take any shortcuts but to learn how to grow a beard properly.
If you are not in your late twenties or older, you should not be considering this option either. While facial hair growth for males begins at around 13-15 years old, it rarely reaches its maximum potential until 30 years old. If you are in your early twenties or younger, it may not be your prime time yet for maximal beard growth.
If you are older than your late twenties, you should grow your beard on your own for at least three months, if not longer. Beard growth requires patience and is a test of character for most men. Unless you try hard, you won’t know if you can grow your beard.
If you let your beard grow for 3-6 months, and it still shows patches that cannot be covered up by hair from the adjacent areas, only then should you consider beard stimulation. Remember also that having small patches of thin hair is normal for most men and is not a sign that you failed to grow a full beard. If the patches are not visible to other people, this is totally fine.
What Works For Beard Growth Stimulation?
Beard growth depends on the male hormone testosterone, and if you want to optimize your beard growth potential, you should lead a lifestyle that increases testosterone. The higher testosterone, the better, and the best natural ways to increase testosterone are strength training exercises. You should also have a healthy diet and good sleep.
Does beard oil work for beard growth?
This question is so often asked that we want to address it right away. Beard oil is an excellent product for beard care, but it does not stimulate beard growth. Some companies selling beard oil may try to convince you of the opposite, but there is no scientific evidence to support this. Beard oil moisturizes skin, conditions the beard to make it softer and better looking, prevents and treats beard itch. You should definitely use beard oil, just don’t expect it to grow your beard.
What really works for beard growth?
Currently, scientific evidence shows that there are two reliable methods for hair growth stimulation: microneedling with needles of 1.0-2.0 mm and minoxidil (Rogaine) treatment. The caveat is that both treatments have been mainly studied for growth stimulation of scalp hair. For some reason, little research was done into microneedling and minoxidil treatment for facial hair stimulation. It is tempting to speculate that what works for scalp hair should also work for facial hair. But further research is needed to find out.
Minoxidil Treatment For Beard Growth
You can currently buy Rogaine (5% minoxidil) without a prescription in the US for the treatment of hair loss. Rogaine works for both men and women, but there is a difference in men’s and women’s formulations. The formulation for men is applied twice daily, whereas women’s formulation is applied once a day. You can read more about Rogaine here.
You should note that Rogaine’s label does not include the use for beard growth stimulation. However, one clinical study in the Journal of Dermatology demonstrated the effectiveness of 3% minoxidil for the stimulation of beard growth. There is also a lot of anecdotal evidence in the form of success stories on YouTube (like this one) and other social media from users who have reported that minoxidil is effective for beard growth stimulation.
Interestingly, one of the side effects of minoxidil treatment for hair loss is facial hair growth. This is an unwanted effect for women, and it does not occur frequently. But this side effect indirectly supports the notion that minoxidil also works for facial hair growth. You can read more about this side effect on the manufacturer’s website.
Speaking of side effects, the most common are dry, itchy skin and irritation, and, as mentioned above, unwanted facial growth. The last one is hardly unwanted if beard growth is your goal.
Microneedling For Beard Growth Stimulation
Microneedling refers to skin treatment with tiny micro-needles that can vary in length from 0.2 to 2.0mm. This treatment can be done using a variety of devices. One of the most popular ones is a derma roller. This device is straightforward to use at home and is quite affordable. Please check out our in-depth guide on at-home use of microneedling.
How does microneedling work for hair growth stimulation? The actual mechanism is quite complex and is not fully understood. In brief, microneedles produce micro-punctures of the skin that trigger a healing response with the release of growth factors that stimulate hair growth. For more information, please check out this article.
Microneedling and minoxidil treatment can be combined together to achieve an even better effect than the individual treatments alone. For more information on how to use microneedling and minoxidil for hair loss treatment, please check out our guide here.
What micro-needle length is needed for hair growth stimulation?
You may have seen derma rollers with 0.25mm needles advertised for beard growth stimulation by companies selling beard growth kits. However, there is no credible research to support this claim.
In the studies where effective hair growth stimulation was demonstrated, 1.0-2.0mm microneedles were used.
Although short microneedles (less than 1.0mm) are not effective for direct stimulation of hair growth, they can increase topical products’ absorption and may enhance their effectiveness. This means that if you pair a derma roller with a topical product stimulating hair growth, you may achieve a more potent effect.
What needle length is best for enhancing absorption? For absorption enhancement, the short needles are as effective as the long ones. But the shorter the needles, the more frequently you can use them. So the choice is obvious: use the shortest possible needles. The range of 0.2-0.3mm is ideal for the purposes of absorption enhancement.
What topical product should you pair with a derma roller for beard growth?
Derma roller of 0.25mm is often paired with a beard oil by some companies selling beard care products. Beard oil is great for beard conditioning, and 0.25mm derma roller is excellent for skincare, including for skin under the beard. Still, none of these products can stimulate beard growth directly, and combining the two treatments together won’t change this fact.
If you want to use a derma roller with short needles, such as 0.25mm, for beard growth, it should be paired with a topical treatment that works for beard growth alone. At the moment of writing this post, we are aware of only one topical treatment with credible evidence of working for beard growth – minoxidil. But is it safe to enhance its absorption with a derma roller?
Should you apply topical minoxidil immediately after microneedling?
We are not aware of any study where topical minoxidil was applied immediately after microneedling. So we don’t know the answer. But we speculate that this may not be safe. Microneedling may enhance the dose of minoxidil entering the systemic circulation, which may not be safe since systemic minoxidil is known to affect blood pressure. So, we advise against using topical minoxidil immediately after microneedling.
Is microneedling safe?
Microneedling is safe if done correctly. Most side effects are minor and disappear completely after 1-3 days, depending on the needle length. For more information about side effects and how to avoid them, please check out this guide on at-home microneedling.
Is microneedling painful?
This depends on the needle length and individual sensitivity. 0.25mm needles are painless for most people. 0.5mm needles are tolerable by most people but are uncomfortable. 1.0mm and longer needles are quite painful. Some can tolerate this pain, but you can use a numbing cream and avoid all the pain. So pain is not a problem.
How often can you perform derma roller treatment?
This depends on the needle length:
- 0.2-0.3mm: as often as every other day
- 0.5mm: once per week
- 1.0-1.5mm: once in 3 weeks
- 2.0mm: once in 4 weeks
NOTE: only needles with a length in the range of 1.0-2.0 mm are effective for hair growth stimulation. This means that derma roller treatment for beard growth should be performed once every 3-4 weeks with needles in the range of 1.0-2.0mm. Once a month works well for most people.
Side effects of microneedling
Like every little thing on earth, sometimes things might go wrong. But with derma rollers, it’s primarily how you use and maintain them that will make a difference when it comes to adverse reactions.
- Redness and irritation. This is the most common side effect and is considered normal. It will go away after 1-3 days.
- Bleeding. There may be minor bleeding. Wipe it off with round cotton pads moistened with a skin disinfectant.
- Allergic reaction to metals. If you used titanium needles, try switching to stainless steel and the other way around.
- Infection. This is mainly caused by an error from the user side. Make sure to disinfect the roller correctly and clean the treated skin area thoroughly before microneedling. Do not do microneedling if there is an active infection on the treated skin area or an unknown skin condition. Rolling over infected skin can spread the infection to other areas. If you are in doubt, consult with a specialist.
- Skin rashes or raised skin bumps. This is quite rare, and if it happens, this could be due to your skin’s hypersensitivity. Stop using the derma roller and seek medical care.
Can you do microneedling yourself?
In short, yes. But the long answer: it depends. It’s easy to perform microneedling with a 0.25mm derma roller at home. However, as explained above, it does not work for hair growth. You need to use long needles of 1.0-2.0mm, and the treatment is done only once in 3-4 weeks.
You need to do your due diligence researching the topic before attempting the treatment on your own. If not done correctly, you can do severe damage to your skin. Can you learn to do it correctly? Yes. Is it worth spending so much time, considering the procedure is done only once a month?
Only you can answer this. Our recommendation is to leave this in the hands of professionals.
But if you are interested to learn how to do microneedling yourself, please continue reading.
Step-By-Step Guide To Derma Rolling For Beard Growth
Materials you will need:
- A derma roller with 1.5mm microneedles (1.0-2.0 mm range works well)
- Men’s minoxidil (Rogaine) liquid or foam
- 70% isopropyl alcohol disinfectant
- Hydrogen peroxide disinfectant
- Facial round cotton pads
Note on minoxidil use: Consult with your doctor first if minoxidil is safe for you. It is not advisable to go on minoxidil treatment if you have a heart condition, some types of tumor, diabetes, or are taking certain medications.
- Microneedling with 1.5mm needles is done once per month.
- Minoxidil is applied to the skin under the beard twice per day according to the instructions that come with the product.
- Minoxidil is not applied on the day when microneedling is done. The regular minoxidil treatment should resume 1-2 days after the microneedling treatment.
Notes on microneedling:
- Do not share the roller with anyone. It’s strictly for personal use only.
- There should be no active acne, eczema, or any skin infection. The skin should not have any damages such as cuts, burns, etc. If there is an unknown skin condition, consult with a dermatologist if microneedling is safe for you.
Step 1 – Sanitize your derma roller
You should sanitize the derma roller before and after each use for 30 min in isopropyl alcohol. For more information, you can read our guide on the proper cleaning of a derma roller. It’s essential to keep the roller thoroughly clean to prevent infection.
Step 2 – Clean your face, beard, and hands
Wash your face, beard, and hands using a gentle, chemical-free cleanser or mild soap. It’s essential to clean the face, beard, and hands thoroughly to prevent infection. You don’t want to wash your face with any random soap as it may contain harmful chemicals. Then completely dry. It is highly recommended, though, that you trim your beard before derma rolling. You can shave, but it is not necessary.
Step 3 – Disinfect the treated skin area
Moisten the round cotton pad with a bit of peroxide disinfectant and wipe off the skin areas you will treat with microneedles.
Step 4 – Map out problem areas
Target the areas with thin beard growth, then start derma rolling across them. Be careful not to roll hard. Avoid dragging the roller to prevent scratches. It should take about 5 minutes to complete the treatment. Note that derma rolling with 1.5mm microneedles can be painful. You could use a numbing cream if you want. But most men can tolerate this discomfort without any problem. We just mention the numbing cream option so that you are aware of it. It’s not really necessary.
Step 5 – Wipe off skin with cotton pads (optional)
You may have some minor bleeding. This is normal. Wipe it off with round cotton pads moistened with a peroxide disinfectant. Try not to touch the treated skin with hands or other objects to minimize the risk of infection.
Step 6 – Apply a moisturizer (optional)
This is an optional step. If you have too much skin redness, irritation, or bleeding, which means that you were overzealous with your rolling, don’t worry. This happens as it’s tempting to think that more is better. But next time, don’t roll as long or hard. In this case, it’s best to wipe off the skin with a peroxide disinfectant (step #5 above) and leave it like this to let the skin heal by itself. This will minimize the possibility of infecting skin when you apply a moisturizing cream or beard oil. Remember that there are always bacteria on your hands and facial skin, no matter how much you wash them. If you don’t touch your treated skin, there will be less chance for infection.
If the skin irritation is minor, you can use a facial cream moisturizer or beard oil. If using beard oil, take 2 to 3 drops of oil, rub on your palms. Proceed to massage into your skin and beard gently. Beard oils are naturally rich in Vitamin E and other nutrients. If using facial cream, take a pea-size amount of cream and put it on your fingertips. Then apply the cream on your face (through the beard) and gently massage it into the face. If your face is too irritated by microneedling, you may skip the application of moisturizer or beard oil until the irritation decreases.
Step 7 – After one day: inspect the skin and apply a moisturizer
If you skipped a moisturizer immediately after microneedling, you should apply it on the next day. Check your skin carefully for redness and irritation. If irritation has significantly subsided, you can resume your regular minoxidil treatments. If not, or you are in doubt, wait for another day before applying minoxidil. Minoxidil can irritate the skin, and you don’t want to apply it on irritated skin.
When To Expect Results From Microneedling?
You can expect to see improved hair growth within 2-3 months after starting microneedling and minoxidil treatment. For best results, it’s important to stick to the routine and do it consistently. This may seem like a long time but growing a full beard, in general, requires a long commitment and patience.
You cannot grow a great looking beard in a few weeks even if you are looking for a short corporate beard (aka “business beard”), a style that is widely accepted in many office environments, even those with strict beard policies.
So how fast can you grow a short full beard? Let’s find out.
Growing full beard
Growing a full beard is actually not that complicated. You just need to stop shaving and let your facial hair grow everywhere until it reaches the desired length while trimming your beard to shape it into the style you wish to achieve.
But the way the facial hair grows and looks, just like your normal appearance, is determined by your genes that you inherited from your parents. The resulting beard may not look satisfactory to you. Every man’s beard is unique, and while you can style your beard in many different ways, you cannot change the underlying beard characteristics determined by your genetics.
How fast does a beard grow?
By way of example, let’s look at what it takes to grow one of the most popular beard styles – the corporate beard (shown in the picture above), which is a very short full-faced beard of only ½ inch length. Because of its short length, the corporate beard style is the fastest full beard to grow.
Facial hair grows at an average rate of ½ inch per month. So, in an ideal case, if you stop shaving, after just one month, you are expected to get this desired beard style. If that is the case for you, congratulations – you’ve been blessed with great genetics for beard growth! But most men will not get good looking short beard after just one month of growth.
The problem is that facial hair does not grow at the same rate on all areas of your face. Some areas may grow much slower than the rest, and after one month of growth, there may be noticeable patches with thin and shorter hair.
The first month of beard growth is the most challenging for most men. You will most likely be experiencing the beard itch (tip: use beard oil to prevent/treat the itch) and a temptation to shave everything off since the beard may not look as desired initially, and it may seem like the result is not worth the effort.
This means that you will need to continue growing your beard while trimming the fast-growing areas at ½ inch length until the slow-growing areas catch up. You may need 2-3 months of total growth time to achieve a nice looking beard of ½ inch length.
Challenges growing beard and options to solve them
In some cases, you may still have patches with thin growth that don’t seem to fill in. So what can you do now? There are several options to choose from:
- 2-3 months of beard growth is not a long time for beard growth. If your short beard doesn’t look perfect but is still decent, you may choose to continue with the same routine. Growing a beard requires patience. Let your thin patches fill in for a full half-year, and if you see improvement, there’s a good chance that another half a year will make it even better. If you are still not happy with your short beard after one year of growth, there other options to choose from.
- Let your beard grow longer. If your thin patches are small, growing a medium length beard of 2-3 inches long will most likely solve your problem. The hair from adjacent areas will cover up the patches and make them invisible. Many great beards have patches of thin hair, but they are not visible to other people. If growing a long beard is not an option, then consider the following options below.
- Consider a partial beard style. Here you shave off some hair from your full beard. If you select a style where you shave off the areas with a patchy beard but leave areas with good growth, you can achieve a great looking final result. There are many outstanding styles of partial beards to choose from.
Partial beard styles
- Mustache: One of the most popular partial beard styles with hair only on the upper lip. Very versatile and works for almost everyone.
- Goatee: This is another popular style that looks great for most men. Here, you trim everything around your mouth, leaving hair over the upper lip and the chin. There are many variations of this style with short and long hair.
- Hollywoodian: This is a great style to consider if you have thin hair on your cheeks but good growth on the chin, mustache, and neck. To create this style, you have to let your beard grow everywhere for 2-3 months and then shave off the hair from sideburns and upper cheeks.
- Chinstrap beard: This looks like a strap of facial hair along the jawline connecting chin and sideburns.
- Mutton chops: If your goatee area doesn’t look good, but you have good growth on your cheeks, then you may consider experimenting with shaving off the goatee completely.
Dermarolling has been proven to be effective in hair growth stimulation and is a promising new trend in beard care that can help you grow a full beard.
Other articles of interest: