- Best Results2+ months
- Treatment Recovery1 day
- Procedure Time5 minutes
- Skin SpecialistYou with a little help from me
- Duration of ResultsLong lasting
- Back to Work1 day
Home DIY Skin Procedures
DIY procedures for your skin’s health can be effective. It’s much like home exercises for your facial muscles & skin cells that produce collagen. The basis behind effective & safe home procedures is to make your skin care actives work harder. This can be achieved with increased skin penetration. Microneedling, microcurrent, exfoliation & dermaplaning are all excellent treatments, & can be used in combination.
FactsFacts on DIY Skin Procedures
- Simple home procedures coupled with good skincare can make a significant difference to your skin
- Salicylic acid peels are safer than AHA peels for home use
- LED masks can be useful to treat acne
- LED masks can also flare up pigmentation such as melasma
- Dermaplaning is one of the most underrated procedures
- Microneedling, performed safely & sensibly can reduce wrinkles, acne scars, stimulate hair growth & enhance topicals
- For home use a 0.1-0.2 mm needle should be the maximum depth
- Microcurrent devices have a high patient satisfaction rating
What is a safe & effective anti-aging home routine?
Go into home skin care procedures with the aim of making your skincare actives work harder for you- essentially to aid in skin penetration & bioavailability of your current skin care routine. This can be safely & effectively achieved with exfoliation & sensible DIY microneedling. An example is as follows
Microneedling every 14 days, alternating with dermaplaning. I.e., One-week dermaplane, next week microneedle. Microcurrent three nights a week. Exfoliation once a week.
What skin care products should you use?
This is the very first & most important step to build upon. Think of skin care as fertilizer for your lawn, and procedures to get the nutrients into the ground. There is little value in using crappy nutrients, hence start with good skin care. Here is a list to build on.
Retinol: or vitamin A is the cornerstone of any skincare regimen. Start with a good formulation of 0.5%, increase to 1.0%. Retinoids help build collagen, firm skin, reduce wrinkles & pigmentation.
Niacinamide: is vitamin B. It has an important role in reducing skin inflammation as well as keeping the skin’s barrier function intact. This ingredient is best for those with super sensitive skin.
Ascorbic Acid: or vitamin C is super important as an essential skin care active. The most potent form is L-ascorbic acid over ascorbate (the latter is more stable). Vitamin C is an excellent ingredient for pigmentation.
Antioxidants: protect your skin from UV & environment stress that can damage your skin. Pick a formulation that contains vitamin C, E (tocopherol) & ferulic acid.
AHAs/BHAs: act primarily as exfoliants. AHAs include glycolic & lactic acids, whilst salicylic acid is a BHA. BHAs are more oil soluble & hence better for those with acneic skin or oily skin.
What is microneedling?
If you can understand this concept, you can safely perform microneedling at home-
you do not need to use long needles & you do not need to bleed to benefit from microneedling. Using 0.1 to 0.25 mm needles, conducted safely at home can improve your skin texture. Microneedling can be used to –
- Enhance penetration of skin care ingredients such as retinol & ascorbic acid.
- Stimulate collagen production indirectly via cytokines from the epidermis.
- Improve cell turnover & skin luminosity, hence improving dull skin.
Microneedling can be delivered via stamps (dermastamping), rollers, mechanised needles (derma-pen), & energy devices (RF insulated & non-insulated devices). The safest DIY is via stamping, read below.
What depth needles are safer?
For DIY home use, 0.1 to 0.2 mm needles are relatively safe for the average punter. You still can do some major damage to your eyelids with 0.2s, so be sensible. If in doubt, leave it out.
A stamping device is safer than a roller. A pen (if it is good & you know what you are doing) can be a useful home device. If you are tempted to microneedle at a deeper depth, you can injure & scar your skin, especially if you drag the device & or have a faulty motor.
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How to safely microneedle at home?
Now that you understand safety with depth of penetration & method (stamp), you can consider DIY needling every 2 to 3 weeks. You can do this up to once a week, depending on your skin type/sensitivity/& what else you are doing.
- Buy either a stamper or roller. One quarter of a millimetre long is maximum. Stampers with titanium needles or rollers with 256 needles can be purchased online for a few dollars. Buy half a dozen at a time. Ideally single use, but you can sterilise them with ETOH if needed. (If you are intraepidermal & don’t bleed, the chance of infection is low).
- Needle areas of concern with firm pressure. If you bleed, you’re probably putting too much pressure. Remember the aim is to aerate the epidermis to allow growth factors & collagen stimulating mediators known as cytokines to activate your collagen producing cells known a fibroblast that live in the dermis. Aeration also can increase the amount of actives that penetrate in your skin.
- Perform 4-5 passes over all areas. Avoid the upper eyelids, go gentle on the lower eyelids.
- Timing of topical application of skincare products is as follows; within 5 to 10 minutes of microneedling. Start off with retinoids such as retinol, then you can consider ascorbic acid. Be conservative with applications. The pros of microneedling is increased bioavailability, meaning at a given concentration, your ingredient of choice is working harder. The biggest con is that absorption of other ingredients including preservatives, humectants, stabilizers & fragrance will be enhanced. This can lead to contact dermatitis (irritant & allergic).
- Frequency will depend on your goals & importantly what else you are using. A sensible recommendation is 2-5 sessions per month.
Disclaimer: Adhere to safe practices namely don’t be an idiot and share your needles. Ideally sterilize the needles before use & use an alcohol wipe to clean your skin before needling.
How can I make my topical skin care work harder?
You can up the frequency, percentage or enhance the penetration of skincare ingredients. I will give insights as to how to increase penetration.
- Exfoliate: either physically (sponge or device like Clarisonic) or chemically with AHAs- BHAs or both.
- Prime your skin with say AHA serums prior to application of other actives. If you are new to skin care, or don’t know how to salvage skin irritation, don’t try this. You can also prime your skin with chemical peels, including glycolic, lactic, salicylic & retinoic acid peels.
- Dermaplaning is one of the best ways to increase topicals as it removes the dead layer of skin cells. Much faster than microdermabrasion at a fraction of the cost. It is essentially shaving for chicks. Learn how to DIY & don’t cut yourself like an emo.
- Microneedling is useful. I am referring to sensible short needle microneedling & not derma rollers with 5 mm spikes that you can aerate your lawn with. Use a derma stamp with 0.2 to 0.25 mm needles. They are readily available online for around 5-10 dollars. This can enhance penetration of topicals, remodel mild forms of acne scarring & stimulate hair growth.
Disclaimer: If you have sensitive skin including rosacea, dermatitis, perioral dermatitis etc, don’t try this. Be guided by your medical dermatologist or skin care expert. I am a procedural dermatologist, namely I cut, laser, inject or do invasive procedures as my day job. I do not treat skin rashes, nor do I give out skin care advice. I can refer you to my team if you require medical management.
Do microcurrent devices work?
There are many microcurrent devices on the market, the most advertised are NuFace & Foreo Bear. Despite an absence of peer reviewed scientific evidence, these devices have excellent safety & ‘feel good’ factors that cannot be demonstrated with clinical before & after photos.
I have used both these devices, and subjectively skin feels firmer after continued use. Microcurrent, in theory, stimulates collagen in the dermal layers of skin. These devices IMO are best used in skin with good, but lax collagen (younger patients, late 20s to mid 30s+). Subjective satisfaction rating is an important factor when it comes to skin care.
What types of chemical peels can I do at home?
The most important aspect of DIY peels is safety. I see many self-inflicted burns on a regular basis, mainly from low pH, high concentration AHA followed by BHA & TCA peels. By far the most common are AHA peels. Just to recap glycolic/lactic/ AHA peels-
- AHA peels require neutralizing
- High concentration will result in burns
- You do need to protect the sides of your nose & mouth area
- Start with low concentrations of 15 to 20%, short contact
- A relatively safe concentration is 20% for 1-2 minutes
- Even at this concentration, poor technique will result in a chemical burn
My advice, if you really must, short contact, buffered AHA is moderately safe. BHA or salicylic acid peels are safer than AHA peels as they are self-neutralizing.
My team and I use 15 to 30% salicylic acid on a daily basis to treat acne, blackheads, oily skin & congestion. At higher concentrations you will get a pseudo frost. PIH is usually transient should you be an idiot & get significant sun exposure. For home use, don’t exceed 10%.
How to perform TCA peels safely?
You are reading the wrong website if you want to know how to do clinical or professional chemical peels at home. Medium to deep peels should be done by a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon in a clinical environment. If you do make a mistake and burn your skin, in most cases I can fix it up over a period of time- usually 6 to 12 months. Most cases do not require skin grafting.
TCA is self-neutralizing, hence IMO if you use good technique & adhere to the principles, it is relatively easy to do and safe. It is unsafe when you want to be an aesthetician/ dermatologist / plastic surgeon & start multi-coating with higher percentages. In summary-
- Use a maximum of 8 % TCA for home use
- Apply 1-3 coats maximum
- Give plenty of time between coats (1.5-2 minutes)
- Pin-point frosting is OK
- This may still flare up your melasma
- Lip ratio different in Asian & ethnics, means different volume of upper vs lower lip (1 to 1 ratio)
If you have a chemical burn following TCA, you should see a dermatologist or PS immediately for wound care. Most cases do not require hospitalization, or skin grafts & in most cases we can treat scarring & or pigment changes within 6 to 12 months.
*Disclaimer: You can still screw up with DIY TCA peels. Peels can flare up skin conditions such as rosacea, sensitive skin, & dermatitis. Obviously don’t drip acid in your eyes. Proper technique can reduce, but not eliminate accidents in the office, operating theatre or at home. This page is written to help those who insist on DIY treatments. You are in better hands if you see a dermatologist or specialist clinic who performs clinical peels.
What are LED masks, do they work?
In theory, these masks are relatively safe. The caveat is that some masks are banned in the United States & Australia because they may, in theory worsen rare eye conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa, ocular albinism, and other congenital retinal disorders). With repeated exposure they may cause varying degrees of retinal damage that could be irreversible and could accelerate peripheral vision impairment or loss.
LED masks, in theory, can provide many benefits to the skin. In practice the power levels of these lights are too low except in the case of treating acne. This is the true value of home LEDs. My choice? Blue LEDs, use daily as directed to acne prone skin as adjunctive therapy. Be careful if you have melasma, as it will flare up pigmentation. For collagen stimulation, there are many better ways to achieve this.
How to treat acne scars at home?
Firstly, get your acne under control. Start off with a sensible diet, good makeup practices, & focused skin care. Look for ingredients that contain salicylic acid, retinol, niacinamide, ascorbic acid & if you must, tea tree oil or witch hazel. Whatever works for you, do it. This will save you a visit to a dermatologist.
What do dermatologists do? They prescribe medication, that is. They are not going to prescribe you words or wisdom, or a special formulation of fairy dust & herbs. Hence do whatever it takes to stop that visit to a dermatologist. They are however very, very good at treating bad/recalcitrant acne with drugs. Remember the number one predictive factor for scars is the time taken to effective control of acne. It is not the time taken to start a treatment or how long you have been on a treatment.
For sensible scar treatments DIY at home, see the section on acne scars on this website. I go through microneedling methods, topicals, chemical peels, LED therapy & many more.
What is dermaplaning?
Dermaplaning is shaving. Men dermaplane daily. Women not so often, unless you are genetically predisposed to hair, or have PCOS. This simple technique can instantly rejuvenate your skin as it-
- Removes the dead outer layer of skin cells, known as the stratum corneum.
- Removes vellus hairs & peach fuzz.
- Stimulates cytokines to stimulate new skin cells.
- Increases penetration of skin care such as retinol, AHAs & vitamin C.
I highly rate this procedure for all the above reasons, especially number four. If you know how to do this without cutting yourself, it’s probably the fastest, easiest & cheapest way to get glowing skin. It’s essentially a shortcut to microdermabrasion.
Can you teach me how to do fibroblasting or Plasma Pen?
Not a chance. This is where I draw the line. I see more screw up & permanent scarring from Plasma Pen than with any other procedure out there. The main reason is that the primary indication of plasma is to treat the thinnest area/s of skin- namely your eyelids & neck skin. Just don’t do it.
How do I learn how to inject dermal filler at home?
The first thing you should do is to learn braille. You may need this after you attempt dermal fillers at home as blindness (permanent, not temporary) is a reality. Eyesight is pretty important the last time I looked (this pun is intended not accidental, so no apology).
Google ‘dermal fillers & vision loss’ and you will find out why. It takes many years of injecting to be competent & safer in what we do as specialists. Knowledge of anatomy, filler properties & injecting techniques (cannular, slow injecting, etc…) can provide added safety to how we deliver dermal fillers. The side effects of DIY fillers can be permanently catastrophic.
Botox on the other hand is somewhat banal. You get a droop. It looks like you have a stroke, it wears off in 2-4 months. Your friends will laugh at you. Botox causes temporary side effects, unless you Botox your muscles in the neck & it diffuses to the deeper muscles & you get aspiration. This may lead to aspiration pneumonia. This can be fatal. It has happened before.
Davin’s Viewpoint on DIY Home Skincare
The most important thing about DIY home treatments is safety. Don’t F*&k it up or you will be spending big $$$$ to fix your skin.
My top three procedures to DIY at home for effective but safe outcomes are microneedling, microcurrent & dermaplaning. Combine these with a good skin care routine, & you will get results.
Microneedling releases growth factors from the upper layers of skin. You don’t need to go deep, & you don’t need to bleed. 0.1 to 0.25 will get you there. Use a stamper over a roller, over a pen. Perform this every 7 to 14 days, & apply your skin care ingredient of choice within 10 to 15 minutes of this procedure. You need to know how to read the ingredient list if you want to reduce the chances of contact dermatitis. Refer to the A-Z section in this website.
Microcurrent can be useful. It will not demonstrate any objective changes, however subjectively it can feel great. Benign & cost effective in the long run. Stick to mainstream companies. Though the initial costs are there, it’s probably the cost of three microdermabrasion sessions, & you will get your money back within 2-3 months.
Dermaplaning is essentially shaving the peach fuzz off your face. It takes 3- 5 minutes to perform, and it can increase the absorption of topicals. Blades start from $2, do it weekly.
I get DIY treatments; it is like taking care of a garden or polishing your car. It feels good, it encourages self-worth & pride. Not many dermatologists endorse this, however if you do it safely with a wee bit of sensibility, it can be rewarding.
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