Everything You Need To Know About Dermaplaning

We asked two experts whether this treatment really works—and what, if any, risks exist.

(Photo: iStock)

There are countless treatments on the market that promise to amp up your glow, from serums and acids to facial, but one buzzy skincare trend has beauty fanatics turning to razor-sharp blades to get instant results. Dermaplaning—a treatment during which a licensed esthetician uses a small scalpel to essentially shave the face, removing dead skin cells and peach fuzz, and exfoliating it deeply in the process—promises smoother, brighter and more even-toned skin in a single session.

Curious? We asked Dr. Monica Li, a Vancouver-based dermatologist and clinical instructor at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Dermatology and Skin Science, and Haley Bogaert, founder of Toronto-based beauty studio Haley Bogaert Face, to get the scoop on whether this treatment really works—and what, if any, risks exist.

What is dermaplaning?

Dermaplaning is a facial treatment that uses a sharp blade to gently scrape off dead skin cells and vellus hair (a.k.a. peach fuzz) from the skin’s surface to leave it smooth and glowing. Unlike shaving, dermaplaning is done by a licensed professional using a small surgical scalpel, rather than a typical razor. While shaving focuses on hair removal, dermaplaning is all about exfoliating the skin to reveal a radiant complexion.

Despite the fact that it uses a razor-sharp scalpel, dermaplaning doesn’t hurt. “Some people report experiencing a tingling or ticklish sensation,” says Li. “But it should be painless if it’s done properly and safely.”

Dermaplaning is typically done by a licensed esthetician who learns how to perform the treatment through formal education and training. Bogaert, who is certified to perform dermaplaning, notes that estheticians or dermatologists who want to learn how to dermaplane can enroll in a two-day training program to receive their dermaplaning certification.

What are the benefits of dermaplaning?

Immediately after the treatment, you can expect your skin to look smoother, brighter and more even-toned due to the removal of dead skin cells and vellus hair. Dermaplaning creates a flawless canvas for makeup application and also allows skincare products—like serums and creams—to better absorb into the skin, resulting in increased hydration levels.

Are there any downsides or dangers to dermaplaning?

When performed by a professional, dermaplaning has minimal side effects, says Bogaert. Sensitive skin types might notice redness or irritation for a few hours afterwards, which is normal and temporary.

Is dermaplaning suitable for all skin types?

While dermaplaning is suitable for most skin types, it isn’t safe for people with extremely sensitive skin, active acne breakouts or inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea or eczema. In these cases, dermaplaning could further irritate the skin and even spread the infection. “When there’s infection involved on the face, it can potentially lead to pigmentation and even scarring,” says Li. Bogaert adds that those with thinning skin that’s prone to cuts and tears should also avoid dermaplaning.

People who suffer from conditions that cause excess facial hair growth (such as polycystic ovarian syndrome) should consult a physician to deal with the root of the problem rather than its symptoms, advises Li. The same goes for people with sensitive or acne prone skin—a dermatologist can recommend alternative products or treatments.

How should you prepare for a dermaplaning appointment?

In the week prior to your appointment, Li says it’s important to discontinue the use of exfoliants (including microbeads and chemical exfoliants like salicylic, glycolic and lactic acids) as well as retinol products to prevent irritation.

Those with a history of cold sores should let their esthetician know prior to booking their appointment, as dermaplaning has the potential to cause inflammation and reactivate the cold sore virus. Li notes that physicians can prescribe an antiviral medication to prevent any potential outbreaks.

How do you take care of your skin after dermaplaning?

Because dermaplaning strips the skin of its protective layer, post-care is essential. “It is very important to be diligent about sun safety and to use sunscreen afterwards,” says Li. She also suggests incorporating a gentle moisturizer into your skincare routine and avoiding products that contain retinol and chemical exfoliants for three to four days after the procedure.

Will it make hair grow back thicker?

Despite popular belief, shaving or dermaplaning won’t make peach fuzz grow back thicker or darker—cutting the hair at skin level doesn’t affect the number of hair follicles or how quickly hair grows. “Whatever hair is there originally will come back the same,” says Bogaert. You might feel like the hair is growing back jagged or thicker at first, but the sharp edges will blunt over time.

While it is uncommon, terminal hair (the thick, pigmented hair that is influenced by hormones and found on the scalp, armpits and occasionally on the face) can grow back darker when shaved. For better results, Bogaert suggests threading those spots instead, which is a hair-removal method that uses a thread to pull the hair out from its root.

How often do you need to get a touch-up?

Bogaert recommends getting a touch-up once every four to six weeks, depending on how quickly your hair grows. People with sensitive skin should limit their treatments to once a season to avoid irritation and give the skin time to heal, adds Li.

Can you dermaplane at home?

While you can DIY a dermaplaning treatment, you probably shouldn’t. Dermaplaning tools are available on the shelves of major beauty retailers and tutorials often make the rounds on YouTube, but both Li and Bogaert recommend leaving it to a trained professional with a dermaplaning certification. Not only is using a razor-sharp blade on your face a “recipe for potential complications,” says Li, but a licensed professional will also be able to assess if you’re a good candidate for dermaplaning in the first place.

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