What Is Dermaplaning? Everything You Need to Know Before Shaving Your Face With a Scalpel
If you think that men are the only ones who should be shaving their faces, you probably haven’t heard of dermaplaning.
Instead, “a surgical scalpel is used to gently scrape away dull dead skin cells and peach fuzz,” explains Allie Summers, Medical Aesthetician at Tribeca MedSpa in New York City. “The results are instantly glowing, smooth skin,” she says (plus, it makes makeup go on smoother than butter).
So yes, dermaplaning essentially means paying a licensed esthetician to shave your face with a razor-sharp scalpel. It sounds scary, but it’s seriously popular among those who want super smooth, even-toned skin without using sometimes-irritating chemical exfoliants. That makes dermaplaning a great choice for those with sensitive skin and chronic dryness who want to slough off dead skin cells without irritating their skin in the process.
We got the scoop from some scalpel-wielding estheticians on the benefits of dermaplaning, the side effects, and the need-to-knows, like if it really makes your hair grow back thicker. Here’s everything you need to know about dermaplaning:
What are the benefits of dermaplaning?
You can pretty much expect to instantly see smoother, brighter, more even-toned skin after one dermaplaning session. “Dermaplaning eliminates vellus hair (a.k.a. peach fuzz) and dead skin cells [which] increases product absorption and efficacy,” explains Elena Tsiaklis, Senior Managing Esthetician at Skin Spa SoHo in New York. As a result, makeup goes on more flawlessly, and skin looks brighter and more firm. “Dermaplaning helps the cells to turnover faster, thus stimulating collagen,” explains Summers.
What are the side effects of dermaplaning?
Dermaplaning is safe and effective for most skin types, says Tsiaklis, so side effects will be minimal. “Those with extremely sensitive skin might be slightly pink for a few hours,” says Summers. Otherwise, it’s a safe and effective way to manually exfoliate the skin, ideal for those with sensitive skin. However, people with the following skin issues should avoid dermaplaning, according to Tsiaklis:
- Active acne
- Extremely sensitive skin
- Open wounds or raised lesions
- An allergy to nickel
- Use of Accutane within six months
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What should you do before dermaplaning?
Tsiaklis says “discontinue all exfoliants including AHAs, BHAs, enzymes, microbeads, and retinoids for 5-7 days,” as these anti-aging and exfoliating products can thin the skin. “Hair removal such as waxing, threading and shaving should be avoided for at least two weeks before dermaplaning,” Tsiaklis says. And if you’re in the midst of a breakout, “it is best to reschedule until the skin is fully healed.”
How long does it take to recover from dermaplaning?
“Dermaplane treatments are totally painless and involve zero downtime,” says Summers. It’s true: the procedure takes less than 30 minutes, and it feels like a credit card being gently scraped against the skin, which is held taut throughout the procedure while the scalpel is placed at a 45-degree angle.
Because the skin is prepped with rubbing alcohol ahead of time, if you have sensitive skin (like me), you might feel a slight burning or stinging post-procedure, but no pronounced redness or visible irritation.
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Can you moisturize after dermaplaning?
Yes, and you should: Freshly exfoliated skin needs lots of hydration. “Hydrating serums and peptides are ideal products to use post-treatment,” says Tsiaklis. “I love using a hyaluronic acid serum immediately after, as it’s a great drink of water for the skin,” says Summers.
What should you do after dermaplaning?
“Avoid direct contact with the sun for the first 48-72 hours after treatment,” says Tsiaklis, and always wear a broad spectrum sunscreen since “recently exfoliated skin is more susceptible to the negative effects of the sun,” says Summers. Our experts agree that since dermaplaning is so exfoliating, you should discontinue use of any exfoliants for a week following the service, and switch to a gentle cleanser and super hydrating skincare products, like the top-tested Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream.
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Does hair grow back after dermaplaning?
Once and for all: shaving can’t make your hair grow back thicker!“Dermaplaning is removing the hair at the surface of the skin and it is scientifically impossible for that process would alter hair growth,” says Summers. “The speed of regrowth is all a matter of genetics and hormones," says Tsiaklis, and neither shaving nor dermaplaning can change your number of hair follicles or the rate of hair growth.
That said, facial hair may feel a bit spiky when it first pops back up. “When the hairs grow back after about a month, the ends will be slightly blunt for a couple of days before tapering off.” That means that while you may notice the hairs coming back, nobody else will.
This! Came! Off! My! Face! /JESSICA TEICH
Can you dermaplane at home?
You can, but you probably shouldn't. “Dermaplaning is a refined and careful approach to removing skin cells and vellus hair that should be done by a trained professional — it is not recommended to be done at home,” explains Tsiaklis. “Using a razor you get from the drugstore won’t be as sharp or as effective as a medical-grade scalpel.”
Plus, “an at-home treatment will not give you the same level of exfoliation or fully remove the hair,” says Summers. Worse yet, it can be dangerous to take on home dermaplaning: "I have seen clients come to us with nicks, dermatitis and irritated skin from attempting to dermaplane at home," she says.
How often should you get dermaplaning?
Generally, every 3-4 weeks, depending on your rate of hair growth. "I recommend monthly dermaplaning treatments to maintain the results,” says Summers. “It’s definitely doing more for your skin than your basic monthly facial, both short term and long term."