I’ll be the first to admit how hairy I am — it’s not like I need to visit a laser hair-removal clinic, a waxer, or a doctor to figure that out. Think of it this way: A teen boy going through puberty has nothing on my peach fuzz and my mustache, thank you very much. And after years of feeling embarrassed about it (because let’s face it, the stigma around body hair and women is real), you’d think the prospect of having super-smooth, hairless skin — not unlike a man who just shaved his face — would have me stoked, which is what I thought was the case with the new at-home dermaplaning devices that have been cropping up recently.
But if I’m being honest, I’ve started to embrace my hairiness lately. Without it, I wouldn’t have my long, curly hair and thick brows. And frankly, a small part of me was convinced I would be losing my identity to dermaplaning. Thankfully, hair removal has nothing to do with it, says Neil Sadick, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. Since the little I knew of dermaplaning was that it makes skin smoother, I was game to give it a shot — especially in the confines of my own home. But I wanted to learn a little (um, a lot) more about the process first.
What exactly is dermaplaning?
Simply put, dermaplaning is a form of exfoliation. A sharp tool — not unlike a scalpel — is used to scrape off the top layer of the skin, says Stalina Glot, an aesthetician at Haven Spa in New York City. Even though a sharp blade is involved, the treatment is pain-free and leaves you with virtually no downtime. (Read: You don’t need to go into hiding for a day while your face recovers.) It’s the superficial use of the scalpel-esque tool that makes it safe — there’s no anesthesia, skin lacerations, or the like — not even a nick or cut. As you scrape skin, dead skin cells are removed along with fine vellus hairs, a fancy name for your favorite and mine, good old peach fuzz. “[Dermaplaning] is a great alternative to a chemical peel or microdermabrasion,” Glot adds.
But dermaplaning does not equal dermabrasion. “Think of dermaplaning as a deeper [form of] microdermabrasion,” says Sadick. Both treatments resurface skin, but dermaplaning takes off most of the epidermis, the outermost layer of your skin, he explains, while “microdermabrasion [only] takes off the layer above called the stratum corneum [the surface layer of skin],” he explains. Plus, microdermabrasion can’t (and doesn’t — I’ve tried it) remove any facial hair.
Besides exfoliating the skin and removing hair, dermaplaning also has mild anti-aging benefits, too. Sadick says that the scraping creates subclinical (microscopic) wounds in the skin. After you scrape, the “skin reacts by regulating certain growth factors, like fibroblasts and vascular, which in turn stimulate collagen production,” Sadick says. This collagen production, in turn, improves skin quality and reduces wrinkles.
What dermaplaning won’t really help with, though, according to most of the dermatologists I spoke with for this story, is acne. However, Sadick did say dermaplaning can be great at removing blackheads and comedones because the exfoliation “unroofs blocked glandular structures.” And since it’s such an excellent exfoliating treatment, products like moisturizer and serum penetrate the skin better post-treatment, said all the dermatologists I talked to.
As for the primary promised result? Supersmooth skin for days. “Dermaplaning produces immediate results of even skin texture and tone,” adds Kerry Benjamin, an aesthetician and the founder of StackedSkincare spa in Los Angeles.
But it’s really important to note there’s a difference between in-office and at-home dermaplaning.
In an in-office setting, a straight-edge razor or a surgical #10 scalpel (it has a curved edge) is used by a licensed professional, such as a dermatologist, aesthetician, or a registered nurse at a medical spa, according to Benjamin. As mentioned earlier, the nonsurgical procedure involves no downtime. Dermaplaning sessions can cost anywhere from AED/SAR150 to AED/SAR550, depending where you go.
Because we live in a DIY world, “more and more popular professional treatments are now moving over the counter so consumers can perform them themselves,” says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. That now includes dermaplaning because many people can’t find a qualified professional, the time for the treatment, or the cash to have it done, he adds. These days, a scalpel and an appointment aren’t needed to try out it out. Safe at-home devices with goofproof blades are now available that replicate the treatment (and are the ones I gave a whirl myself).
You have a few at-home dermaplaning options.
For this story, I worked with some trust in myself (because you can’t hold a sharp object to your face and have little faith) and two different at-home dermaplaning devices. One of them, the Dermaflash, is available now. It costs AED/SAR695 and comes with six single-use blades. This was the far more techy-looking devices of the two, and it’s also Instagram candy — makeup artists such as Ashunta Sheriff, Isabel Bedoya, and Laura Lee have been spotted flaunting the Dermaflash on their accounts recently.
The other dermaplaner I tested was the the StackedSkincare Dermaplaning Tool. This differs from the Dermaflash, which needs to be charged because it uses a subtle sonic vibration and a proprietary stainless steel edge, says Dara Levy, the founder of Dermaflash. “The sonic vibrations reduce friction and generate a pulse that resonates deep beneath the skin’s surface,” Levy explains. “They have the ability to cause muscles to contract 30 to 50 times per second, similar to a mini-workout. These contractions have the potential to increase circulation and bring oxygen and nutrients to the tissue, yielding a natural healthy, rejuvenated glow.” Both, however, have angled blades so they can be placed on the skin at a safe, effective angle for dermaplaning.
Before you even think of getting started, you should know exactly how to dermaplane.
To ensure fair and superscientific testing methods, I used the StackedSkincare at-home tool on one half of my face and the Dermaflash at-home tool on the other. My hope was that not only would I have less peach fuzz — and thus less peach fuzz to think about — but that I’d be creating a smoother, more even canvas for a more flawless makeup application. Because I love makeup, guys: I’m a very far cry from a #nomakeup girl. I actually look forward to sitting in front of a mirror and brushing on the most shimmery highlighter I can find every morning. Needless to say, I was the perfect dermaplane test subject, and an eager one at that.
Here’s the proper dermaplaning technique, according to Benjamin — regardless of which tool you use. (Granted, read the instructions for both, but this tutorial should give you more context.)
. First, make sure to cleanse your face. But unlike facial shaving, skin needs to be completely dry and free of oils for dermaplaning. “The dryer your skin, the better the results,” Benjamin says. “With drier skin you’ll get significantly more dead skin off, as well as removal of more peach fuzz.” The Dermaflash comes with a cleanser, but for other methods, use an oil-free face wash.
. With the device in your dominant hand, work in small strokes going downward, starting on your cheekbones, with your other hand behind the blade pulling the skin taught. Continue until you have resurfaced the entire cheek and jaw. Repeat the light strokes on the chin, above the lips, and on the forehead. Benjamin advises, “Do not go over any facial area more than once or use on eyelids, eyebrows, hairlines, sides of nose, or lips.”
. Once you’re done, slather up with your favorite moisturizer and serums.
Each of the tools left my skin really smooth — but there’s a big catch.
My thought process while using both tools was basically the same. About two strokes in, I started realizing my skin had a radiance that I’d never seen before. It was like the clouds of dead skin were parting with each stroke, and my skin was finally shining like the sun. Afterward, my skin felt like silk. When it came to makeup, my cheeks looked incredible. My highlighter, blush, and bronzer blended better than ever before. However, halfway through the day, my skin started feeling incredibly itchy. It was almost like my skin missed my peach fuzz and that top layer of skin.
My takeaways and final thoughts on dermaplaning, peach fuzz, and mustaches.
Although most of the itching subsided a day after I dermaplaned, I occasionally still felt like there was a piece of fuzz on my face that I couldn’t find for a couple days after. Also, Sadick was right. Dermaplaning really isn’t all about hair removal because that part was more temporary than I thought. My mustache started growing back after four days. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about it coming back thicker. Sadick tells me that dermaplaning doesn’t go deep enough to affect the active stem cells of hair follicles, which are located deeper down in the dermis.
While it was almost like a skin-brightening booster shot, the dermaplaning technique left me desiring (itching for?) more. Perhaps that’s because of my admitted abundance of body hair, though. But again, Sadick assured me dermaplaning has nothing to do with hair. However, if you’re interested in trying it at home, but scared of nicking yourself, I’d recommend splurging on the Dermaflash, because of the multiple safety features built into the device. “We have an outer safety cage that elevates the blade just enough over the skin to avoid irritation and overexfoliation,” Levy explains.
If you’re not eager to try it at all because putting a blade to your face isn’t your thing or you’re fine with the state of your peach fuzz, I don’t blame you. You might as well just use a peel-off face mask and try threading instead.
Originally published on Allure.com