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You’ve probably noticed that your skin doesn’t shine quite as brightly as it did in your younger days. Yes, it’s totally unfair, but it’s a fact of life that skin gets duller as you get older. So celebs and beauty pros have been turning to a treatment that has the ability to pump up the radiance on lackluster skin—and it doesn’t even require fancy machinery or cost boatloads of money. We’re talking about dermaplaning.
This popular mechanical exfoliation method is super gentle and has been gathering legions of fans in recent years. “Dermaplaning has been around for well over five years, but it’s become very popular in the last couple of years,” says Lauren Fine, MD, board-certified dermatologist in Chicago. Why so popular? “I think because it’s so simple, there’s no downtime, and it has multiple benefits,” Fine says.
Dermaplaning utilizes a super fine surgical blade to remove the hair from your face—yep, you’re shaving to get a glow. And almost anyone can benefit from dermaplaning, peach fuzz or not. But if you’re easily irritated by traditional face scrubs, want to boost your complexion’s brightness, or have oily skin and regularly experience clogged pores, dermaplaning could be particularly useful for you, says licensed esthetician Michelle D’Allaird Brenner.
How Dermaplaning Works
Dermaplaning involves an expert gently gliding a surgical scalpel across your face to remove dead skin cells and vellus hair (better known as peach fuzz) from the outermost layer of your skin, says Kelly DeWolfe, a nurse practitioner in Chicago.
First, your expert will cleanse your skin, then they’ll degrease your face with either alcohol or acetone, says D’Allaird Brenner. “You want to dry out that upper layer of skin as much as you can so that it sloughs right off,” she says. “If it’s well hydrated, you’re not going to get anywhere.”
Next comes the actual dermaplaning. “We’ll start in one area, then move around the face,” says Tahl Humes, DO, founder and director of Vitahl Medical Aesthetics in Denver. “We customize it to you. We might not treat the entire face, but there might be some areas that need more treatment over others.”
After that’s done, D’Allaird Brenner says she’ll apply a serum to deliver anti-aging, brightening, or hydrating benefits deep into your skin. Finally, your session will end with moisturizer or sunscreen with SPF if you had dermaplaning done during the day, since your skin is in a slightly heightened state of sensitivity after exfoliation, she adds.
Dermaplaning Pros and Cons
One of the biggest pros of dermaplaning is that it’s something that just about any skin type can benefit from, says Humes. And experts love it because it’s much easier on the skin than scrubbing. That means you won’t risk irritating sensitive skin. “It’s probably the most gentle form of mechanical exfoliation there is,” says Fine.
Another dermaplaning pro is that there are immediate benefits, namely brighter and softer skin. Because those dead skin cells and peach fuzz are gone, your skin will look radiant and feel ridiculously smooth right away. “It offers instant gratification,” says DeWolfe.
Additionally, pairing dermaplaning with another procedure, such as microdermabrasion, a chemical peel, or laser treatments, can leave you with even better results, says Humes. When you exfoliate dead skin cell buildup, this allows your skincare products or other treatments to penetrate deeper and work more effectively, says Fine.
Dermaplaning is also a good option for those who can’t use other exfoliation or hair-removal methods. DeWolfe points out that while pregnant women have to steer clear of chemical exfoliators (ingredients like retinoids that work to increase cell turnover are usually a no-no when you’re expecting), they can dermaplane.
In other cases, getting your facial hair waxed if you’re also using over-the-counter retinol products or a prescription retinoid can cause your skin to lift and may even leave you with open sores, says Fine. Because dermaplaning is so gentle, you don’t have to worry about that happening. “It’s a nice option when waxing is difficult,” says Fine.
One of the biggest cons of dermaplaning is that you can’t get the same results at home. In fact, your skin could end up in worse condition if you take a DIY approach. “We’re talking about blades on your face, so I’d be worried about any sort of complication,” says Fine. Another con is that dermaplaning is not a suitable option if you have skin conditions like cystic acne, psoriasis, or eczema on your face, says D’Allaird Brenner.
Dermaplaning for Hair Removal
As previously mentioned, in addition to exfoliating away dead skin cells, dermaplaning also removes peach fuzz, which is another reason that this treatment is so popular. Whether that’s something that’s important or not is entirely up to you, but there’s no denying it’s a big point of attraction for many people interested in dermaplaning.
The pressure to remove hair, whether on the face or body, is real, and it’s something that women have dealt with since forever, shaving, waxing, and lasering their way to being fuzz free. In her book Plucked: a History of Hair Removal, author Rebecca M. Herzig writes that women who don’t shave their legs are often seen as gross and less sexually attractive than hairless women. She also writes that hair removal is linked to sexualization.
A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research asked 88 women about their facial hair-removal practices and found that on average, the women spent 104 minutes a week on managing facial hair. Forty percent of participants even said they felt uncomfortable in social situations due to their facial hair.
Meanwhile, according to a survey done by the American Laser Center, the average woman will spend more than 58 days of her life removing hair from her body and spend $15.87 a month on shaving (which adds up to more than $10,000 over the course of a lifetime!). While we’re all for doing what you want with your beauty routines, the societal pressure to be hair free is certainly something to keep in mind.
What to Know Before Dermaplaning
So now you’re sold and you want to see what all the fuss is about when it comes to dermaplaning. Here’s what to expect.
How long does dermaplaning take?
Humes says a stand-alone dermaplaning session lasts 20 to 30 minutes, although your appointment may take longer if you have any Qs for your derm.
Is dermaplaning painful?
Not really. “If you took a business card and rubbed it back and forth against your cheek, that’s what it feels like,” says D’Allaird Brenner.
Can dermaplaning cause breakouts?
You could break out after dermaplaning, but the dermaplaning itself isn’t to blame. Here’s the deal: You have to make sure whoever’s doing the dermaplaning is using a single-use surgical-grade blade, says D’Allaird Brenner. Otherwise gunk from an old blade could be transferred onto your skin.
Another reason you might break out after dermaplaning: “When you mildly exfoliate, you bring new skin to the surface, but you’re also bringing whatever garbage is on the way out,” says D’Allaird Brenner. So if a breakout was on its way, it might hit the surface of your skin sooner than it would’ve if you hadn’t dermaplaned.
Finally, when people get dermaplaning done, they often put their hands all over their faces to feel the softness (not that we blame them…), and in doing this they risk transferring pore-clogging germs from their hands to their faces.
Can you put on makeup after dermaplaning?
You can, but D’Allaird Brenner doesn’t recommend it. “From an aesthetic standpoint, let your skin breathe and adapt to the environment,” she says. That being said, your makeup will go on a whole lot more smoothly post-dermaplaning sesh, says D’Allaird Brenner. Just wait until the next day!
How long does it take to recover from dermaplaning?
Fine says there’s no downtime. You can go about your regularly scheduled business immediately. No red faces here.
What kind of maintenance am I looking at with dermaplaning?
Humes says you can go as often as once a month, and you may even be able to extend that to two months between sessions, says Fine.
Can an esthetician do dermaplaning?
Yes! D’Allaird Brenner says it’s a good idea to check an esthetician’s credentials first to see where their license is from. For instance, D’Allaird Brenner is licensed by CIDESCO, a major international beauty therapy association. It’s also a good idea to read reviews before seeing an esthetician for dermaplaning, she says.
How much does dermaplaning cost?
Unlike a sugar scrub you could pick up at your local drugstore or even DIY, dermaplaning isn’t exactly cheap. Prices generally range anywhere from $50 to $150 per session depending on where you live, says D’Allaird Brenner. Fine says that if you combine dermaplaning with another treatment, like microdermabrasion, then you might be given a discount on the dermaplaning.
Dermaplaning Myths: Busted!
What’s true and what’s not when it comes to dermaplaning? We break it down.
It’s safe for all skin types.
True. Fine says that even the most sensitive skin can handle dermaplaning. Unlike scrubs, which are often formulated with harsh particles that can irritate skin, dermaplaning is incredibly gentle.
It’ll make your hair grow back thicker and darker.
False. “That couldn’t be further from the truth,” says D’Allaird Brenner. “Your hair growth cycle is completely linked to hormones. It has nothing to do with shaving.”
Your skin is too dark for dermaplaning.
False. Some skin treatments (like certain lasers) are typically off-limits for people with darker skin tones because they can cause hyperpigmentation and discoloration. But people of all skin tones can try dermaplaning, says Humes. Dermaplaning is also safe to do on tan skin in the summer, says Fine.
You can use your regular razor to dermaplane.
False. Sure, you could shave your face with a drugstore razor, but you won’t see the same results. Consumers don’t have access to the same quality of blades that professionals do, says DeWolfe.
You have to really commit to dermaplaning to see results.
False. Remember: There are immediate results. DeWolfe says dermaplaning (especially when it’s included in a facial) is a great way to get glowing skin before a special occasion.
DIY Dermaplaning: Can you do dermaplaning at home?
If you want to try dermaplaning at home, tools like Dermaflash 2.0 Luxe Facial Exfoliation & Peach Fuzz Removal do exist. This tool has two speed settings (one for gentle exfoliation for beginners and one for a deeper experience). The brand recommends holding your skin taut, placing the tool at an angle so that it sits right above the surface of your skin, and using short feathery strokes to exfoliate.
That being said, experts caution against DIY dermaplaning for the most part. For starters, you’re not going to be able to buy the same quality blade that a professional has access to, says DeWolfe, meaning you won’t get close to the same results.
It’s also a matter of safety: It’s much harder to work on yourself. “You could slice your skin,” says D’Allaird Brenner. “If you draw your blade the wrong direction, you will cut your skin. And if you scrape too aggressively in one area, you’re going to scrape down to the lower layers of skin. By doing that, you might end up with hyperpigmentation and increased sensitivity.”