How to Remove Dead Skin After Microneedling

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Microneedling is a cutting edge (or should we say poking edge) treatment that involves the application of small hypodermic needles to the surface layer of your skin. 

While it’s an incredibly effective treatment, microneedling can often cause some serious dry skin after performing a session. Today, we’re going to be taking a look at how to remove dead skin after microneedling.

Although it can be startling when you first see it, this phenomenon is completely normal and easily treatable with an exfoliation and moisturization routine! But you need to know when to do it to make you don’t injure your sensitive skin.


Microneedling 101

Love & Pebble Microneedle Roller

While it can be performed in a clinical setting, more often, it’s done at home using dermastampers or dermarollers like the Love & Pebble Roller shown above.

These devices feature small needles that range between .25-millimeter and 2-millimeters long. As the needles prick the surface of your skin, they activate your body’s automatic healing response, improving nutrient-rich blood flow, and stimulating collagen production. 

They work in a similar manner to the Tria Age-Defying Laser device.

People perform microneedling for a variety of different reasons. Dermarolling has been scientifically proven to help your skin heal from acne scars, stretch marks, spot discoloration, enlarged pores, and can even stimulate facial hair growth (in men) or scalp hair regeneration by activating dormant hair follicles. 


Microneedling isn’t a one-off treatment. It can take several sessions to achieve the look you want when dermarolling.

Dry Skin After Microneedling

Sdara Microneedle Roller

Whether you’re using a dermaroller that rolls the needles over your skin or using a stamper that quickly inserts and withdraws the needles into your skin, the process is the same. The needles penetrate the top layers of your skin and open up your pores and follicles. 

Essentially what you’re doing is intentionally damaging your skin in order to trigger the natural rejuvenation process. The end result: clear skin.

But it’s often accompanied by dry skin, too!

Although the application of these needles is meant to heal your skin’s surface, they are still damaging the surface of your skin. Sometimes to initiate the healing process, we must first put ourselves through pain to cause our bodies to regenerate (deep tissue massage is another great example). 

When it comes to your skin, your body heals it primarily by replacing the cells. Part of replacing the old skin cells and tissues involves getting rid of the old layers of skin. 

Essentially what you’re doing is intentionally damaging your skin in order to trigger the natural rejuvenation process. The end result: clear skin.

Your skin cells naturally regenerate themselves every 28 days. In fact, most of the dust you find in your house is made up of old skin cells that we’ve shed (gross but true). Microneedling simply accelerates the rate at which these skin cells regenerate and replace themselves by stimulating collagen production. 

Why Does Microneedling Make My Skin So Dry?

Microneedling speeds up the turnover of the skin cells by intentionally damaging some of them. This causes those damaged cells to come to the surface to shed in order to produce luscious, supple new skin cells. But with those dead cells at the surface, you often end up with dry skin.

Now, let’s look at how varying needle lengths may affect how much dry skin you’ll have. 

Microneedle Needle Length

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There are a variety of different needle lengths, and based on the end goal you’re trying to achieve, you may find yourself using short ones or long ones. Generally speaking, the longer the needle is, the more dead skin that you’ll have to exfoliate after microneedling.

Here are the most commonly-used needle lengths used and what you can expect from them. 

These are commonly found among at-home microneedle rollers. Beyond these lengths, you need to work with a dermatologist.

0.25-millimeter Microneedle Roller

The shortest (and most common) needle length is .25-millimeter. These small needles can be easily inserted or rolled into the surface of your skin, and you’ll barely be able to feel them. 

Since they aren’t penetrating deep enough to reach your nerves and blood vessels, you won’t experience any pain or drawing of blood. 

This length is typically used to open pores and increase product absorption and is also long enough to stimulate some hair growth as well. If you have fine lines on your face, it may get rid of these as well. 

Since these needles are so small, you can use them on your face as often as three times per week. The day after microneedling, you’ll usually notice some minor dry skin. It won’t be severe and may just need to be moisturized.

0.5-millimeter to 0.75-millimeter Microneedle Roller

A .5-millimeter dermaroller is the most commonly used needle length for light scar removal. If you have acne scars, small areas of skin pigmentation or sunspots, or medium-depth wrinkles on your face, then this size needle will be able to start repairing the lighter damage to your face. 

These needles will hurt slightly more than the .25-millimeter needles and should only be used once or twice a week at the most. This will give your face time to heal between sessions. These will cause a good bit more dry skin than the smaller needles as well. 

1-millimeter Microneedle Roller

These needles are typically reserved for medium-depth scars and wrinkles. 1-millimeter needles will also be able to penetrate deep enough to start making an impact on stretch marks from weight loss or pregnancy. 

These needles may penetrate deep enough to draw a little bit of blood and will be significantly more painful to use than the small needles. Most dermatologists recommend applying a topical anesthetic to the area before microneedling with a 1-millimeter device. 

You should only perform this once every 10 to 15 days, depending on how quickly your skin heals. Since it is penetrating deeper into the tissues, your skin will also shed significantly more. 

1.5-millimeter to 2-millimeters Microneedle Roller

These extra-long needles are typically only reserved for severe scarring and areas of cellulite growth. Since they penetrate even deeper, they will almost always draw blood and will cause a lot of dry skin and maybe even cracking.

These needles should only be used once or twice a month at most. 

Will There Be Peeling After Microneedling?

In some cases, people will experience skin peeling after microneedling, particularly when you’re working with longer needles.

Many of the short needles cause the skin to shed, but it comes off in such tiny bits that you can’t visually see peeling.

Longer needles tend to result in more shedding of skin, and you’re more likely to experience visible peeling.

Should I Moisturize After Microneedling?

While you should always perform microneedling on a clean product-free skin surface, it is important to moisturize after needling. By moisturizing right after microneedling, you’ll minimize the severity of dry, dead skin that will appear in the following days. 

In addition to preventing dry skin, the microneedling will also open up your pores to receive the product better, allowing you to deeply moisturize your skin and quicken the healing process. 

You need to give your skin a bit of a rest after microneedling (though you can moisturize). Avoid washing your face for at least 8 hours, and wait at least a day to start thinking about exfoliation.

Hyaluronic acid will be your friend after microneedling.

How To Remove Dead Skin After Microneedling

When it’s time to remove dead skin after microneedling, exfoliation is, by far, the most common method. But there are also a few other ways to remove the dead skin.

Which method you use is completely up to you and what works best with your skin type. 

How Often Should I Exfoliate After Microneedling?

Depending on how fast your skin heals, you’ll usually start to notice dry skin forming within 2 to 5 days after microneedling. As soon as you start to see the skin cracking and shedding, it’s a good idea to exfoliate.

Exfoliating before you see the dry skin may be a waste of time as your skin hasn’t fully regenerated yet. 

While you don’t want to exfoliate every day, doing it twice a week should be fine as long as you give your face a few days time to regulate and heal between scrubbing. 

Safe and Effective Exfoliation Techniques

Below, we’ve listed some commonly used exfoliation and dead skin removal techniques that you can use to treat your skin after microneedling. Keep in mind that exfoliation should be limited to no more than a couple of times per week.

And wait until your skin has recovered and is no longer red before exfoliating.

Exfoliating every day can cause topical irritation, increase oil production, and even cause acne

Facial Cleansing Brush

Foreo Luna 2 Sonic Facial Cleansing Brush

One of the easiest ways to exfoliate after microneedling is to use an electric facial cleansing brush. These small, handheld devices feature a vibrating, rotating brush head that is able to effectively remove dirt, debris, and dead skin. 

Most of these brush kits also come with a deep exfoliation brush. This attachment features harder bristles and will remove even the heaviest layers of dead skin.

You can use them with your favorite face cleanser or exfoliation rub. 

Salt Scrubs

Dead Sea Salt Scrub

If you’re looking for an all-natural exfoliation technique, salt scrubs are excellent. These mixtures usually include large grains of salt mixed with some essential oils and hydrating ingredients. The abrasion performed by the large grains will remove flakes of dead skin. 

In addition to this, the salt will absorb any toxins, dirt, or oils on your skin’s surface, giving you an extra-deep clean. 

Sugar Scrubs

Brown Sugar Scrub

Sugar scrubs perform just as well as salt scrubs, but they tend to be a little bit gentler on the surface of your skin. They’ll also leave your skin with a sweet smell and taste. What’s not to love? 

Chemical Peels

While these can be a bit more expensive, they work really well. Essentially, chemical peels will bind to all of the dead cells on the surface of your skin. As you continue to rub them in, small clumps of your dead skin will accumulate into little balls, which you can wipe free with a clean cloth. 

The Natura Bisse Glico Extreme Peel is great, but pricey! We reviewed it here.

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Natura Bissé Diamond Glyco Extreme Peel | Advanced Complexion Rescue | Exfoliates, Rejuvenates, Restores & Brightens, 1 Oz
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How To Moisturize Your Face After Exfoliating

After exfoliating your skin, it’s essential that you moisturize it. Failure to do so will only result in more dead skin. Apart from hydrating your skin, a good moisturizer will also accelerate your scars’ healing, give your follicles the nutrients they need to stimulate extra collagen, and regulate your skin’s natural oil production cycle.

You can also consider steaming your face to help moisturize it.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).