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The Truth About Dermaplaning

April 23, 2018 Reviewed by Marta 16 Comments

It has always seemed to me that one of the upsides of being a woman is that I don't have to shave my face every morning. So why is face shaving - otherwise known as dermaplaning - trending as a beauty treatment? I had other questions: how does it work, what are the benefits and the downsides? I set off to find the truth about demaplaning.

What is dermaplaning?

Dermaplaning is a physical exfoliation procedure. It requires the use of a sterile, surgical scalpel to gently "shave" the skin's surface, removing the top-most layer of dead skin along with fine, vellus hair (aka peach fuzz). The procedure can be performed monthly, in less than thirty minutes, with no downtime post-treatment. Dermaplaning is only performed on the face; however, it is not meant to be used to shape eyebrows, which are made up of "terminal" (not vellus) hairs. The nose is also avoided. Estheticians, nurses or doctors may perform the treatment, depending on state regulations.

Benefits of dermaplaning

Physical exfoliation triggers the cell regeneration process and allows products to better penetrate skin. Some practitioners perform a chemical peel post-dermaplaning (I wouldn't recommend this if you've never had either treatment before or have sensitive skin). Dermaplaning is also excellent to rid the face of excess fine hairs which can often accumulate dirt and oil. Contrary to popular belief, vellus hairs, as opposed to terminal hair, will not grow back thicker or darker. However, dermaplaning is not suitable for those with excessive facial hair (see below). Microdermabrasion, which also physically exfoliates skin, does not remove vellus hair. Exfoliation of dead cells along with the removal of fine hairs results in healthier, brighter skin that has a smoother look and feel.

Who should consider dermaplaning?

Dermaplaning is especially effective on those with dry or rough skin texture and helps to minimize superficial acne scarring or uneven skin tone. It is also beneficial for mature skin, which tends to have a buildup of dead cells as cellular turnover slows down with age. Dermaplaning is safe for pregnant or lactating clients who cannot have chemical peels (peels penetrate skin to act at the cellular level, thus are contraindicated).

Who should avoid dermaplaning?

Those with very oily or active acne should avoid this procedure as well as anyone with thick, dark facial hair. Acne prone skin can become sore and irritated with this procedure. Those with excessive facial hair will notice stubble as it grows back and experience "razor rashes", spots under the skin and ingrown hairs. There's a cautionary tale on Refinery 29.

According to John Hopkins Medicine, other downsides include fever blisters, changes in pigmentation (hyperpigmentation can worsen) and thickening skin.

Don't try this at home

It's important to note that dermaplaning employs a specific technique requiring a delicate touch and a skilled approach to resurface skin. Thus, I don't recommend shaving at home as an alternative to dermaplaning (see Shaving – the ultimate anti-aging tool?). Unlike shaving, dermaplaning is performed freehand with a surgical scalpel (the average razor has two blades which are also duller than surgical blades) on tautly stretched skin. The methodology requires short strokes at a certain angle in particular patterns depending on the facial region.

Note: Please do your homework (obtain referrals and read reviews) prior to receiving treatment. It takes training to handle a scalpel properly; thus, I can't stress how important it is to ensure you visit a licensed, skilled professional for dermaplaning.

Read more:
Micro-Needling - What Is It?

  • October 16, 2018

    by Wendy

    To Julia in Columbus Ohio: it's been a long time since you posted but if you're still reading this try CAPS. The procedure is less than one-third what you paid w excellent results.

  • September 15, 2018

    by Deb

    I have had dermaplaning twice over the course of the last 2 months, both times followed by an Image Max facial, which also incorporates a mild chemical peel. This procedure is LIFESAVING for my skin. I'm 51 years old, I exfoliate regularly, but WOW, this procedure is great. I have some minor acne scars from late onset acne (in my late 40's), and I'm a regular outdoor runner who sweats profusely. Because I sweat so much when I run (living in South Texas), my skin has exhibited mild onset wrinkles around my mouth. After my first dermaplaning session, these lines began ti disappear. Nothing has worked as well as dermaplaning for those fine lines. I cannot say enough good things about this procedure - I'll continue to have it monthly for as long as I can afford it.

  • May 15, 2018

    by Holly

    I really never believed in facials. I thought they felt good but didn't do much more than that. I just received a gift certificate for a Dermaplane and facial ...I live in San Diego and the cost was $99.00 (good friend) Anyway, I loved it and made another appointment for 6 weeks out. I'm not overflowing with $$$ so I need to pick and choose the bestfor me. It's really a toss up between a massage and a Dermaplane facial, But the facial won out. I have textured skin and have been dreaming of something like this for a very long time. I even tried shaving as my dermatologist suggested but this is better.
    Try'll like it!

  • May 2, 2018

    by DeanneBr

    I partner derma-planing with a hydrofacial and recommend it to all my friends.
    I am in my 40's with early signs of aging, my Esthetician suggested this combo, and it leaves my skin smooth (hairless) with an amazing fresh glow that lasts for days. I always get a ton of compliments immediately after. And, as an added bonus, my skin always also looks a bit pumper for several days after. I typically try to fit in dermaplaning at least once a month for a fresh appearance.

  • May 2, 2018

    by Ellen

    Maybe I’m missing something here but how is this any different than just shaving?

  • March 17, 2018

    by Dianne

    I’m having it done in San Diego in a couple of weeks. I hear it prepares your face to absorb skincare products with out acids. What product is best?

  • October 24, 2017

    by Julia

    Gosh I feel like an idiot I just did it for my first time at kenneths I absolutely love it however it cost me almost three hundred bucks
    Are any of you in Columbus Ohio or close

  • May 19, 2017

    by Ann

    Dermaplaning done correctly is a fantastic treatment. It is not shaving-razors are coarse; the fine scalpel blade is not. All blades are not created equal. Correct prep, blade and after treatment- cooling aloe gel masque and sunblock must be applied for best results. Yes, I'm an Esthetician; have performed this service 14 years. Razors on a woman's face- only if you want stubble and irritation. The poster who suggested "derma planning" can be performed with salt and other ingredients has no idea what they're talking about. It's definitely a great alternative to waxing and chemical depilatory treatments. My advice, find a qualified professional and don't diy at home. I charge $65; pkg of 3 $156. Most clients rebook monthly or 6 weeks out. Your skin will most definitely glow, your makeup and skincare will work and look better to.

  • September 29, 2016

    by Val

    derma planning can be achieved with salt, crushed sunflower seeds, or any other course seed. mix with some yogurt, cream, rose oil or water. rinse with cool water, and apply rose oil or rose water, or hydrosol.
    costs about $2.00.

  • July 17, 2015

    by Iris

    I started dermaplaning earlier this year. Due to hormonal imbalance my peach fuzz was getting thicker. Laser hair removal does not work on fine hairs or light colored hair period. The Dr I see at the Medical spa I go to said try dermaplaning. I love it. Super smooth skin, no fuzz, and a more youthful appearance. I rotate every other month with dermaplaning and Hydrafacials..My perfect maitance fix. I also starting using Obagi New Derm 2 months ago for dark spots... All three techniques have worked wonders for my fair sensitive skin... People think I am in my early 30's not 40..that is proof enough

  • July 10, 2015

    by Faith

    Who on earth charges hundreds or thousands for this service?? As a licensed aesthetician, I only charge $45 for this. And I do agree, adding a peel to it is delightful :)

  • February 3, 2015

    by Monique

    I did not like dermaplaning. My face looked and felt like shaved for weeks. I rather have peach fuzz than feeling shaved. It also felt very invasive. Just like "very sharp" blades scrapping my face. I do not reccomend dermaplaning.

  • June 23, 2014

    by Will

    I enjoy the challenge of perfecting DIY treatments. Correct dermaplaning is not hard to learn, though mistakes can be potentially costly to your health if, for example, you were to inadvertently sever your carotid:). While I was experimenting with technique (always use sterile, disposable scalpels, which are available online), I was overly aggressive with my scraping the first time around. So I went around looking as though I had lost a fight with a rotary sander for a week. The next time, two months later, I was much more gentle, and the results are great. I also removed a few pesky skin tags on my neck in the process. This is now a once a few months, regular procedure. Why pay a dermatologist (or mor likely, his/her assistant) hundreds or thousands?

  • July 8, 2013

    by Ania

    Does ultrasonic spatula give you the same results ? It seem to be the same principle and much safer too .

  • January 22, 2013

    by Jan

    ****correction, the plaining was performed prior to the peel****


  • January 22, 2013

    by Jan

    Years ago, at least where I live.....Estheticians who performed glycolic peels always included dermaplaning after the peel. I loved it.....your review has reminded me just how much I loved it and how my face responded to this procedure in a positive way. I'm encouraged to find a qualified Estheticians - my face would love it!

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