Alright, WTF Even *Is* Dermaplaning and Should I Get It?

Ruby Buddemeyer, Brooke Shunatona
·7-min read
Photo credit: Imaxtree
Photo credit: Imaxtree

From Cosmopolitan

Does anyone else get a stupid amount of Instagram ads for, ahem, trendy beauty treatments? (Like, sorry, IG, but I’m not actually looking to try that influencer-approved treatment at my local med spa.) Welp, that’s probably why it took me a minute to come around to dermaplaning—aka the exfoliating treatment that involves gently scraping the surface of your skin with a surgical scalpel. Even though it sounds like just another BS treatment with too-good-to-be-true results, dermaplaning is actually one of the most effective dermatologist-backed solutions for dealing with dull, blah skin.

Dermaplaning is kinda like shaving your face—only it’s performed in a doctor’s office and takes care of way more than peach fuzz (which, for the record, it also does). Sounds kinda weird, but it’s exploded in popularity recently thanks to the fact that it gets rid of facial hair, can make your face feel baby soft, and helps give you a smooth base for foundation. “It’s like a turbo-charged exfoliator,” says dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor at Yale, adding that it’s a great addition for anyone who already exfoliates regularly.

But as with any skincare treatment (especially ones involving scalpels, hello), you need to hear the pros and cons to see if dermaplaning is right for your skin. And to help you out, I got all the expert insight from Dr. Gohara; Tamila Deveny, medical aesthetician at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York; and Melissa Doft, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon in NYC. Keep reading for everything you need to know before trying it out.

What to know before dermaplaning

What are the benefits of dermaplaning?

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The results can vary for everyone, but realistically, you can expect to see a smoother surface, zero peach fuzz (until it grows back, obvs), and slightly brighter-looking skin after your dermaplaning appointment. And because you’re removing any and all of your dead skin cells, your skincare products will better penetrate when you apply them, making them all the more effective.

Is dermaplaning the same as shaving?

There are a couple of major differences between the two techniques, but it’s easiest to think of dermaplaning as the more thorough, skin-safe version and shaving as a cheaper, at-home option. Remember: Dermaplaning is performed with a licensed professional (i.e., not in your bathroom with your roommate holding a flashlight), and dermatologists like Dr. Gohara warn against DIYing it: “Sharp blades and DIYs shouldn’t go together,” she says.

But if you’re just looking to get rid of peach fuzz (read: not coarse hairs or dead skin cells) and your skin isn’t at all sensitive, you can definitely try shaving your face at home. Just make sure you’re using a new, fresh razor that’s specifically designed for your face (you’ll need to toss the blades after one or two uses, BTW, so it’s worth buying a pack). I’m personally a fan of the Revlon Face Defuzzers and Schick Silk Touch-Up, both of which have precise and gentle blades.

For anything past peach fuzz—or if your skin is super sensitive—it’s always best to see a professional for dermaplaning, and Dr. Doft and Deveny recommend seeing a doctor or medical aesthetician only from a dermatologist’s or plastic surgeon’s office to ensure the best and safest results. And if you still aren’t sure which method is best for you, go to your derm for a consultation before you try anything. It’s your face, so it doesn’t hurt to be extra cautious, k?

What are the side effects of dermaplaning?

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In the hands of a professional, dermaplaning is safe for most skin types, says Dr. Doft, especially those with sun damage, fine lines, dry patches, and dull skin. But of course, there are caveats: If you have highly reactive, sensitive skin (like those with rosacea or keratosis pilaris), you may want to pass on this one, since it might irritate your skin. Same goes for anyone with inflamed acne—unsurprisingly, sliding a sharp scalpel over your zits can irritate them and worsen existing breakouts by spreading bacteria.

Don’t worry though—Dr. Gohara says there are still good ways to exfoliate your skin if dermaplaning isn’t in the cards for you. Just talk to your dermatologist about finding the best, most gentle exfoliants (lactic or polyhydroxy acid are both popular options) for you and your skin concerns.

Will dermaplaning cause breakouts?

Quite the opposite, actually. A buildup of dead skin can clog your pores and hair follicles, which can not only cause pimples but also block your skincare products from penetrating the skin, which is why exfoliation is essential for maintaining an even, healthy glow. But like I said, if you already have an existing breakout, you’ll unfortunately need to sit this treatment out.

How much does dermaplaning cost?

You can expect to spend $150 to $250 per treatment, but you’ll notice a difference in your skin’s texture and tone immediately, so at least you know it’s potentially worth the price. And as with any beauty treatment, that price range will totally depend on where you’re located.

Does dermaplaning hurt?

The thought of a blade sliding across your face is a scary one, I agree, but it’s not actually painful at all. Think of it like shaving any other part of your body. Can you feel it? Yes. Does it hurt? Not if you’re doing it right. Again, that’s why it’s super important to leave dermaplaning to professionals.

What to expect after dermaplaning

Is there any downtime after dermaplaning?

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Some light redness can be expected but not always. “It’s perfectly fine and common to make an appointment during lunch and go right back to work after the 40-minute treatment,” Deveny adds.

Can you wear makeup after dermaplaning?

Ever notice how peach fuzz tends to stand out even more underneath foundation and face powders? Well, since dermaplaning removes all the little hairs on your face, your makeup will actually glide on super smoothly. But hold up—although it’s tempting to see the results right away, try to avoid slapping on a face full of makeup immediately after your dermaplaning treatment.

“I love to let the skin breathe for the rest of the day,” says Dr. Doft. “If you need to wear makeup, you can, but your skin barrier is more open and may become more irritated.” Once your skin has had time to settle (about a day), proceed with all the foundation your little heart desires. And since your skin barrier will be more vulnerable after dermaplaning, Dr. Doft recommends using a rich hyaluronic acid mask or moisturizing cream to help repair your skin and keep it super hydrated and happy. These bbs are good to have on hand:

Will dermaplaning make my hair grow back thicker?

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Contrary to what you’ve been told, dermaplaning (and shaving!) will not make your hair grow back thicker or darker. Deveny explains that once your hair begins to grow back, it might feel different because the hair was cut straight across, but it’s actually the same texture as it was before and it will continue to grow at the same speed.

How often do I need dermaplaning treatments?

Since this is a deeply exfoliating treatment, Dr. Doft recommends waiting at least a month between appointments, although some patients with sensitive skin can even limit their treatments to once a season.

Will dermaplaning make my skin more sensitive to the sun?

Post-exfoliation, your skin will be especially susceptible to the sun, so if you don’t take sun protection seriously (it’s 2020! Come on! It’s time!), you might want to skip this treatment altogether. Otherwise, you’ll need to be diligent with SPF afterward—use gentle sunscreens of at least SPF 30, like one of these top-rated formulas:

The final word

As long as your skin isn’t sensitive and you aren’t experiencing any major breakouts, dermaplaning is a fairly low-risk way to (a) exfoliate your skin and (b) remove your facial hair. Remember: Dermaplaning isn’t something you can DIY and you’ll need to see a professional—so if you’re just looking to remove peach fuzz, it might be best to consider shaving instead.

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