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The Difference Between Medical, Nano and Cosmetic Needling Explained

 Woman holding  Dr Pen A6S Microneedling pen to her face

Microneedling is an excellent treatment for anti-aging, sun damage, acne scarring, improving tone and texture, inducing collagen production and more.

But there are many different names that can make it seem confusing. There’s collagen induction therapy,skin needling, microneedling, medical needling, nano needling, cosmetic needling and more.

Below we explore cosmetic needling and explain the differences (or similarities) between micro, nano and cosmetic needling.

What is Cosmetic Needling?

Cosmetic needling uses fine needles to make microchannels in the epidermal layer of the skin. The microchannels initiate a beneficial healing response in the skin.

Overall, cosmetic needling will help with hyperpigmentation, scarring, tightening and brightening of the skin.

How is Cosmetic Needling Different to Microneedling and Nanoneedling?

Cosmetic needling has many fantastic benefits, in the same way, that microneedling does.

Cosmetic Needling

The key difference between cosmetic needling and microneedling is needle depth. It’s all about how your skin responds to the different needle depth as well as how frequently you can perform the treatments.

Cosmetic needling involves needles penetrating the epidermis with a needle depth between 0.2 to 0.3mm.

Cosmetic needling triggers the release of growth factors, which are the proteins that promote cell rejuvenation and renewal. These growth factors work their magic on your skin and can produce some pretty impressive results.

Creating microchannels in the epidermis causes the cells in your skin to talk to each other about growth and healing. But the critical reaction is that the resident fibroblasts (collagen factories) in your skin cells produce collagen.

Medical Needling

Microneedling, otherwise referred to as collagen induction therapy or medical needling, involves penetrating the epidermis and the dermis, a deeper layer within the skin. Microneedling depths range from 0.5mm up to 3mm.

Medical needling creates more significant microchannels thanks to the deeper needle penetration. This causes your body to release myofibroblasts (little skin cell ambulances) to heal the ‘wounds’. This wound healing response also causes growth factors to be released, collagen production to be induced, and the cells to communicate to tackle healing and growth.

Because of the deeper needle penetration, the healing process is longer. You should only microneedle every four to six weeks for best results.

Nano needling

Nano needling confusingly doesn’t involve any needles. The nano cartridge is made up of microscopic silicone tipped cones. These cones create tiny channels in the very top layer of the skin, the stratum corneum.

The tiny channels are entirely invisible to the naked eye, but they allow your products to penetrate deeper into the skin.

When nano needling, you can take advantage of this and use serums to address skin concerns that occur at the top levels of the skin, such as pigmentation, dehydration and dullness.

Who Can do Cosmetic Needling?

Cosmetic needling can be done in a salon or the comfort of your own home if you have the right cosmetic needling instrument.

To cosmetically needle, you need a microneedling pen capable of going 0.2mm to 0.3mm deep. Or, you can use a derma roller.

A derma roller is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a good entry level product.

A microneedling pen is a great device to purchase as you can use it for micro, cosmetic and nano needling. This multi-use device is perfect for those who can afford it and are serious about skin needling!

Does Cosmetic Needling Work?

Whether nano, cosmetic or microneedling “works” depends on the skin concerns you wish to target, how your skin heals and what needling treatments you’re undertaking.

It can take anywhere from 2 to 10 microneedling sessions for people to see results, as everyone’s version of results varies. And everyone's skin heals differently.

Cosmetic needling will improve the appearance of scars and wrinkles whilst improving your skin’s strength. Acne, pigmentation and UV damage can take more treatments to see results and if you have deep stretch marks or hair loss, you’re likely to see better results with microneedling.

How Often Can I Do Cosmetic Needling?

Because cosmetic needling doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply as microneedling, the skin heals quicker.

This means you can perform cosmetic needling once a fortnight. You can fit this around your current nano or medical needling routine easily.

Medical needling should be done once every 4 to 6 weeks, so cosmetically needling can be done two weeks after your microneedling treatment. Nano needling can be done weekly as the nanoneedles penetrate the skin at such a shallow depth that the skin heals ultra fast.

Grey Dr Pen M8 Microneedling pens on a benchtop

Is Microneedling Better Than Cosmetic Needling?

You’ll see results from any skin needling treatment when the needle depth is tailored to your specific skin concern.

For example, acne scarring affects deeper layers of the skin, so microneedling will improve the scars’ appearance. But if you’re tackling hyperpigmentation, which occurs at a shallower level of the skin, cosmetic needling will help you see fantastic results.

Dr Lance Setterfield, one of the top microneedling experts globally, argues that the collagen produced by the fibroblasts (induced in cosmetic needling) is of a higher quality than the collagen produced by the myofibroblasts (induced in microneedling). However, the myofibroblasts released in microneedling produce far more collagen than the fibroblasts released from cosmetic needling.

Your skincare concerns should dictate which treatment you choose and not which treatment has more or better collagen.

And if you aren’t sure which to do, it’s safe to do both providing you pay careful attention to the recommended frequency of each treatment.

What Serums Can I Use During Cosmetic Needling?

Because cosmetic needling creates microchannels for products to enter, it’s best to avoid active ingredients.

If a serum enters the microchannels and your body thinks its a foreign body, it may cause an adverse reaction and make your skincare concerns worse.

To play it safe, use serums with ingredients that our body already produces, such as simple hyaluronic acids. You’ll hydrate the skin without risking any adverse reactions.

You can also use epidermal growth factor serums, as this is another ingredient your body produces naturall. Growth factor serums tell your cells that they need to grow, heal, produce more collagen, manufacture more elastin or increase blood flow.

Final Tips About Cosmetic Needling

With each type of skin needling, the goal is for healthy skin. Skin needling, either cosmetic or microneedling, can produce profound results with such consistent and simple actions.

Cosmetic needling isn’t superior or inferior to microneedling. Treating skin care concerns should be focused around the needle depth you need to see results, not which treatment or needle depth is “better”.

Needle Depth

Skin Layer this Needle Depth Penetrates


Nano needling

No depth 

Stratum Corneum


Cosmetic Needling

0.2mm - 0.3mm


Once a fortnight


0.5mm - 3mm


Every 4 - 6 weeks


Initially investing in skin needling tools like a derma roller or microneedling pen, and learning some of the fundamentals around cosmetic, nano and microneedling, can have a huge payoff!

Skin needling, either micro, cosmetic or nano, is a proven way to help with the anti-aging, a brighter complexion, minimise the appearance of pores, firming, tightening and more - just to name a few benefits!

If you’re interested in cosmetic needling with a microneedling pen, shop our range of pens now! Compare our microneedling pens to find the right device for your cosmetic needling needs.

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From our in-house Beauty Advisor to the warehouse staff that package your order with love and care, we are invested in your results. We are here to help you and be a part of your skin journey. 

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