Dermaplaning fact vs. fiction

How to dermaplane at home with no regrets

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas
Sep 20, 2019 · 5 min read

Closeup of woman with two finger over left cheek and eyes closed
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Hi, it’s me, your favorite skincare blogger, here again with my moustache and acne scars. Curology asked me to do a little digging on the dermaplaning trend, so I pushed my glasses up my nose and got to work. But when it comes to dermaplaning (a.k.a. dermablading), sussing out the facts from fiction was no easy task; there’s a serious lack of clinical research on the long-term benefits and side effects of dermaplaning. And when I lurked through what the blogging community had to say, there seemed to be little difference between a dermaplane facial vs. a quick shave.

So what’s dermaplaning really about? Here’s what the research (plus the generous fact-checking of the dermatology providers at Curology) told me.

What is dermaplaning?

Dermaplaning is a skincare treatment involving the use of a small scalpel to remove the topmost layer of the skin to improve its appearance. In professional dermaplaning, an esthetician uses a scalpel to remove fine hairs (a.k.a. “peach fuzz”). The blade also physically exfoliates the surface of the skin, scraping away dead skin cells.

Dermaplaning instagram screenshot

Being the trendsetter I am, I’ve been using Tinkle razors to shave the fine hairs off my face for years — it wasn’t until I sat down to research this article that I realized many beauty bloggers consider these small, single-blade razors to be an at-home dermaplaning tool. The main benefit of removing fine hairs from the face is that it smooths the surface of the skin, making it easier to apply makeup flawlessly. Removing fine, dark hairs on my face also helps to brighten my complexion.

But is this just personal grooming, or is the at-home dermablade technique a legitimate form of physical exfoliation that benefits the skin?

Closeup of Tinkle Razor product (photo by cupcakes and cashmere)

Photo Credit: Cupcakes and Cashmere

Is professional dermaplaning worth it?

In the world of beauty blogging, “professional dermaplaning” almost always refers to a cosmetic procedure performed by an esthetician, who uses a medical-grade blade (a.k.a. a dermablade) to very gently “shave” the surface of your skin, removing dead skin cells and peach fuzz in the process. This cosmetic procedure isn’t surgery and generally has little to no recovery time. The most common side effects of dermaplaning include increased skin sensitivity and redness; leaving your skin alone after a dermaplane facial is a good idea.

It’s always a bad idea to use a dermablade on areas of skin inflammation such as acne or rosacea — it may irritate these conditions and make them worse. Plus, it’s way too easy to accidentally cut bumps and other uneven topography on the face. Finally, as with other forms of physical exfoliation, overdoing it can be rough, so back off if your skin shows signs of over-exfoliation like redness, tightness, and dryness.

So, that’s dermaplaning, the cosmetic procedure. But — confusingly — there’s another type of dermaplaning used for totally different purposes. In plastic surgery, dermaplaning refers to a medical procedure where a cheesegrater-like blade (a.k.a. a dermatome) is used to slice off a thin layer of skin for reconstructive purposes. So, if you’re seeking a professional dermaplane facial, call your local salon, not your plastic surgeon!

Is dermaplaning safe?

Dermaplane facials performed by estheticians are generally safe. It’s essentially just gentle shaving, so long as they have a good eye and a steady hand, your face will be like a baby’s bottom. The biggest risk of the procedure is getting a cut, which is unlikely to happen when the tool is in the hands of someone with proper training and loads of experience.

But in the opinion of most dermatologists? Esthetic dermaplaning is no big whoop. If you prefer your face hairless, great! But if you expect dermaplaning to get rid of acne scars and pits, the reality is that clinical research is lacking, and what little we have doesn’t indicate that dermaplaning makes a significant difference.

In 2011, a team of plastic surgeons published a systematic review of medical research on dermaplaning, oxygen therapy, and light therapy as non-invasive facial rejuvenation strategies. After looking at 42 peer-reviewed studies, they concluded, “The overall amount of scientific data supporting [dermaplaning] was found to be scarce, anecdotal, and not well documented.” Despite this, cosmetic dermaplaning procedures continue to grow in popularity.

So, if you like what those dermablades do for your skin, not to worry! And if you’re skeptical about the whole thing, dermaplaning is by no means a necessary step in your skin routine. It’s also fine to dermablade at home — but maybe call the salon if your leg-shaving technique is prone to scratches, nicks, and cuts. A steady hand is a key to bald-faced success 😎

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How to dermaplane at home

Now that we’re up-to-date on the medical evidence (or lack thereof) about dermaplaning: if you want to use a tiny baby razor like the Tinkle to remove fuzz from your face, here’s how to do it.

  1. Prep your skin with a gentle face cleanser. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry.

  2. Get your DIY dermablade. Small, single-blade razors, like the ones made by Tinkle, are the easiest to use for dermaplaning.

  3. While your skin is still damp, draw the dermablade to remove fine hairs and peach fuzz. Generally, peach fuzz is thickest around the jaw, neck, and upper lip, so I recommend focusing on those areas first. Shaving with the grain is usually the gentlest on your skin.

  4. Be gentle. Keeping the blade relatively parallel to the skin is what you want to do — obviously, don’t cut into the flesh.

  5. Don’t dermablade over acne breakouts or other inflamed skin. Did I mention be gentle?

  6. Check your work with a magnified mirror in natural light. Go over any parts of your cheeks, chin, upper lip, or neck that are still fuzzy. Shaving against the grain in an upward motion can help you get rid of stubborn fuzz, but be careful! It’s a lot easier to cut yourself this way.

  7. Treat nicks by covering them with a protective layer of Vaseline or Aquaphor. If you’re really bleedy, at-home dermaplaning might not be for you, so slap a bandaid on and look for a good esthetician next time.

  8. Follow up with a rich moisturizer. One with hyaluronic acid is especially good for water retention, helping your skin look bright and plump.

Let confidence be your guide

At the end of the day, dermaplaning isn’t a skin routine necessity, so whether or not you choose to dermaplane is a personal preference. At the same time, the results of regular dermaplaning — either at-home or at the salon — won’t compare to a good skincare regime that includes regular sunscreen application and the wisdom of dermatology. When you sign up for Curology, you’re paired with your own licensed dermatology provider to bring the expertise straight to you. Sign up for a free trial and choose the complete set or just a bottle of prescription cream for $4.95 to cover the cost of shipping and handling.*

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We're here to tell you what we know. That's why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone's skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.

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Stephanie Papanikolas

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