From slugging to laser we’ll try anything in our quest for brighter, clearer skin. The latest skincare treatment to pique our interest is dermaplaning, an exfoliating treatment that uses a surgical blade or scalpel to remove dead skin and fine facial hair to improve texture and brightness.
Women in Asia have used blades and facial razors to remove facial hair and dead skin cells for centuries. Here in the UK, dermaplaning has been offered by aestheticians such as Nicola Russell, award-winning facialist and founder of skincare information site Skin Geek, for almost a decade but it has remained somewhat under the radar.
However, it's definitely having a moment right now. Our social feeds have been littered with videos of people having their faces ‘shaved’ and nearly two billion of us have viewed the dermaplaning hashtag on Tiktok. What's more, dermatologists such as Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme approve. She shared a video highlighting the benefits of dermaplaning. "It's safe to use on all skin types and is a great addition to your skincare routine to give you glowing skin."
It's also one of the more affordable facials on the market costing around £40
Why has the face shaving treatment become so popular? Aesthetic doctor Dr David Jack thinks it's because the procedure is just so watchable. If you're a fan of Dr Pimple Popper's hypnotic spot squeezing videos, or are one of those people who asks to see the gunk container after a Hyrdafacial , then you might just find yourself drawn to skin shaving videos too. There's an ASMR quality to watching a blade being stroked across somebody’s face. Just us?
As we see a shift away from using Instagram filters, people are looking for ways to achieve flawless skin IRL and dermaplaning couldn't be easier. Dermaplaning is a painless, 20-minute treatment that requires no anaesthetic and leaves you with baby soft skin.
Painless, quick and with instant results, dermaplaning sounds too good to be true. So, we spoke with one of London’s most respected aesthetic doctors Dr David Jack and facialist Nicola Russell to get the lowdown on dermaplaning. From the benefits to the downsides, we’ve left no-scalpel unturned and sent our tester to try out the face shaving trend to see whether it lived up to the hype.
We sent Catherine Fulwood, our thirtysomething commercial projects manager, to test it out at Dr David Jack's practice in Harley Street. Read on to have all your dermaplaning questions answered.
What is dermaplaning?
If the idea of using a scalpel on your face sounds like something out of a horror movie then bear with us; dermaplaning is less scary than it sounds. “Dermaplaning uses a surgical scalpel blade to scrape the top layers of the skin and remove fine vellus hairs, aka ‘peach fuzz’, ” Dr Jack tells us. An aesthetician or doctor will use a very small blade and gently scrape the surface of your skin using light, feathery strokes. See, nothing scary about that.
It's less often seen as a standalone treatment, but it's an increasingly popular add-on when you're in the aesthetician's chair. Russell says it can be slotted in before some laser treatments and makes a great prep for a chemical peel . Meanwhile, Dr Jack often pairs dermaplaning with his Egyptian Facial, a resurfacing treatment that uses fruit acid peels to boost the skin brightening effects of dermaplaning.
What are the benefits of dermaplaning?
1. Excellent exfoliation
It’s a supercharged manual exfoliation technique that has two main skin-improving benefits: resurfacing and hair removal. “Dermaplaning improves the surface texture and appearance of the skin by removing some of the dull upper layers,” says Dr Jack.
2. Fuzz-free baby-smooth skin
The skin is left feeling smoother and looking brighter. Our tester, Catherine, noted that immediately after the treatment, her skin felt super smooth, “if a little pink,” and that the next day it looked brighter and still felt unusually soft.
If fine hairs on your face bother you then the scalpel also removes these, leaving you with a fuzz-free, more polished complexion. Fans of dermaplaning also rate the treatment for creating a smooth canvas that makes an ideal base for applying makeup.
3. Your skincare is more effective
Post dermaplaning your usual skincare products will work even harder, says Dr Jack. “By removing the top layers of dead cells, which form a barrier to penetration of active skincare products, it allows them to penetrate deeper into the skin to increase their effectiveness."
What happens during a dermaplaning treatment?
The entire procedure takes around 20 to 25 minutes and is entirely painless – no numbing cream necessary. Catherine said she could "barely feel anything".
You’ll have a thorough cleanse then a prepping solution is swept over the face to remove any surface oil. “This is to ensure that the skin is completely dry so that the dermaplaning blade can glide over safely and smoothly with no hesitation,” Russell explains.
Post-scalpel sesh, a superficial peel or enzyme mask may be applied to further brighten the complexion and enhance the results. If you have sensitive skin, your practitioner might pair it with a gentle skin peel using mild acid such as azelaic acid . Or, if your skin has gone a little pink, a calming mask might be applied. Finally, serum and SPF are massaged into your skin.
Is dermaplaning suitable for everyone?
Pretty much! However, Dr Jack would not advise dermaplaning if you have a skin infection or breaks in the skin such as active acne or cold sores. Sensitive skin types can absolutely enjoy dermaplaning as the serums or peels applied afterward can be tailored to your skin type.
Will dermaplaning give me stubble?
This is one of the main concerns people have. But rest assured, those of us with soft, light hair on our skin won’t be growing a five o’clock shadow.
“There is no risk of the hairs growing back thicker or darker as the hair follicles are not affected by the procedure,” says Dr Jack. Russell agrees; “It’s physiologically impossible for dermaplaning to change the facial hair since it is only being removed from the surface of the skin; the base of the hair is completely unaffected.”
Our tester Catherine says that although she didn't notice any stubble she could feel the regrowth. "The hair started coming back exactly where it had been previously, no thicker or darker, just the same as before."
However, if the hair on your face is dark and coarse it's a different story. “If you have thick, dense, dark hair as opposed to peach fuzz it will grow back feeling and looking thicker and darker," warns Russell. "This is down to [the hair] having a blunt tip as it grows up through the skin again,” she adds.
If this sounds like you, and you’re considering dermaplaning primarily for facial hair removal, it's worth considering laser hair removal, waxing, or threading instead which has minimal chance of stubble. “With these treatments, the hair will grow through with a tapered edge, rather than a blunt edge,” says Russell.
How often should you dermaplane?
If you can’t get enough of that velvety-soft, post-dermaplaning feeling then the pros recommend regular appointments every six to eight weeks, which is the length of the average skin renewal cycle.
You should have a brighter, smoother complexion for around six weeks following the treatment both from the treatment itself and the fact that your products will be working harder.
Is dermaplaning safe?
Absolutely! As long as you’re having the treatment carried out by a trained professional.
Are there any side effects or downtime with dermaplaning?
Other than looking a little pink post-treatment not really. “Side effects are very rare,” says Dr Jack, “and are generally limited to a little redness and a very mild dryness directly after the procedure.” This should subside within the hour and you’re free to go about your day-to-day tasks and wear makeup immediately after.
Couldn’t be simpler! Just keep the skin clean and use a little more serum than normal, says Dr Jack, to take advantage of the higher absorption effect from the treatment. He recommends vitamin C or hyaluronic acid, as these will be able to penetrate better into the skin than usual. “Don’t forget an SPF!” adds Russell.
Can I dermaplane at home?
There are several at-home dermaplaning devices available such as Magnitone’s Dermaqueen £75.96 and The Dermaflash Mini Peach Fuzz Removal Device £59.99 which have safety guards to protect you from nicking yourself. But there is a greater risk of cutting yourself than if you have it done by a professional. Plus, the blades used in-clinic are surgical so they're sharper and properly sterilised, unlike the blades found on at-home devices.
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Personal-use products are notably cheaper than regularly heading to the clinic for dermaplaning. In-clinic dermaplaning prices start at around £40 per treatment.
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