Does dermaplaning really work?

·5-min read
Photo credit: robertprzybysz
Photo credit: robertprzybysz

If you're looking for a safe, effective way to tackle peach fuzz, you might've considered dermaplaning. Beloved by beauty editors and Hollywood stars alike, this exfoliating treatment involves gently scraping the surface of your face with a surgical scalpel, removing fine hair and dead cells to reveal the soft, smooth skin beneath.

There are more than 1.2 million Instagram posts tagged #dermaplaning – from mid-treatment snaps to 'before-and-after' collages. But is it right for you? We spoke to Dr Mervyn Patterson, medical director of Woodford Medical, to find out precisely what dermaplaning entails, and assess the benefits, risks and costs associated with the procedure:

What is dermaplaning?

Dermaplaning removes the soft, fine hair on your face, known as vellus hair, by gently gliding a sterile surgical scalpel over your skin. 'It's not the classic scalpel blade, which has got a sharp point sticking out the end of it,' explains Dr Patterson. It's got a round end to it.'

When the blade is positioned at a precise angle, 'the therapist can literally stroke it over the skin,' he says. 'This removes any vellus hair, you can see that coming off. But there is also some degree of exfoliation, because you're removing some of the dead skin cells. It's not as exfoliating as say, microdermabrasion, but it does have some exfoliation effect.'

Dermaplaning typically takes around 20 minutes, and has no downtime, aside from potentially some short-lived redness. While the procedure can be performed on its own, it's often followed by another exfoliating treatment, such as a chemical peel.

Benefits of dermaplaning

Thinking of booking in for a dermaplaning treatment? We take a look at the benefits:

✅ Dermaplaning removes peach fuzz

This is biggest benefit of dermaplaning, because there's very little else that can be done to treat vellus hair. When it's severe, 'people can't put their make-up on properly, because it holds the product off the skin a little bit,' explains Dr Patterson. That's why dermaplaning is a popular treatment choice ahead of weddings and other important functions, he says. 'The makeup will sit better because the skin is smoother and there's no hair in the way.'

✅ Dermaplaning benefits other treatments

Since the hair removal process clears dead skin cells – from the 'outer stratum corneum, right on the top of the epidermis,' says Dr Patterson – dermaplaning can make a secondary treatment, like a peel, more effective. 'We would combine it with something like an Epionce Lite Refresh Peel,' he says. 'You get a slightly more even penetration of the peel, and therefore all the benefits that the peel brings – new cell turnover and a flush of new cells coming to the surface.'

✅ Dermaplaning reveals smooth, glowing skin

Post-procedure, you'll benefit from instantly brighter, fresher, ultra-smooth skin. However, it's important to point out that while dermaplaning is super effective for its intended purposes, it's not a miracle worker – despite what advocates of the treatment on Instagram might claim. 'It does not remove pigmentation, and it doesn't treat wrinkles,' advises Dr Patterson. 'How can it?'

Is dermaplaning just shaving?

There are a few major differences between dermaplaning and shaving. The surgical scalpel used for dermaplaning has a rounded, blunt tip, and is manoeuvred using a specific technique and at a certain angle. This means that, unlike shaving, dermaplaning isn't a DIY skin treatment. It should only ever be performed by an experienced, licensed professional at a reputable aesthetic clinic.

What are the cons of dermaplaning?

Consider these potential drawbacks and risks before signing on the dotted line:

❎ Dermaplaning can be expensive

It's more expensive than shaving, costing from £50 and upwards per treatment, and only lasts until the hair regrows – typically several weeks, although it varies depending on the hair growth cycle of the individual.

❎ Dermaplaning isn't suitable for everyone

While dermaplaning is safe for most skin types, if you have active or cystic acne, cold sores, or any other type of infection in the area being treated, it can cause further irritation and worsen breakouts. People with inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema and psoriasis should avoid dermaplaning, as should anyone with hirsutism.

❎ Dermaplaning should be performed by an expert

Be sure to choose an established practitioner. Not only will they advise whether you're a suitable candidate for the treatment, but they'll perform it safely, too. 'If the technique is not good or they don't use the proper blade, you could experience little small nicks in the skin,' says Dr Patterson. Not what you signed up for.

Does dermaplaning hurt?

If the idea of sliding a sharp scalpel over your skin sends chills down your spine, you'll be pleased to know that dermaplaning is pain-free. Sensation-wise, it's just like shaving any other part of your body. You can feel the blade on your skin, but it doesn't hurt.

Will dermaplaning make hair grow back thicker?

It's an urban myth that dermaplaning makes hair grow back thicker, darker or quicker. 'There's no evidence that the hair changes at all,' says Dr Patterson. 'It's not traumatic, you don't disrupt the hair follicle, and you don't get ingrowing hair either.' If the regrowth feels different post-procedure, it's purely because the hair has been cut straight across – but the texture hasn't changed, nor has the speed at which it grows.

How often do I need dermaplaning treatments?

Your practitioner will be able to advise the best dermaplaning schedule for you, based on your hair and skin type. Generally speaking, 'you probably wouldn't do it any more than once every six to eight weeks, something like that,' advises Dr Patterson.

Last updated: 21-05-2021

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