Shaving My Face Is One Of The Worst Things I've Done For Beauty

Illustration: Mallory Heyer

From silicone makeup blenders to vampire facials (Kim Kardashian, we're looking at you), it's easy to lose count of the gimmicks, fads and trends that filter into the beauty sphere and back out again, but dermaplaning – using a sharper-than-sharp scalpel-like razor to shave your face of hairs and dead skin cells – is one craze that just won't budge.

If you're active on Instagram, you might have seen a handful of celebrities and beauty editors giving the treatment a go; their faces being scraped and then perfected with all manner of tools, lotions and potions – but why is everyone going mad over it? And is it for you?

What is dermaplaning and what are the benefits?

"Dermaplaning is a physical form of exfoliation similar in theory to microdermabrasion," says Dr. Jonquille Chantrey, cosmetic surgeon and skin expert. "It requires the use of a sterile, surgical scalpel (not as scary as it sounds) to gently shave the skin's surface, removing the top layer of dead skin along with fine vellus hair."

Basically, the stuff we call "peach fuzz". So why the fuss?

"Dermaplaning cleverly triggers the cell regeneration process," continues Dr. Chantrey. "It helps to improve the appearance of things like acne scarring and hyperpigmentation and the effects of the procedure are instant in leaving your skin with a smooth appearance and a radiant glow. Along with the removal of fine hairs, it results in healthier skin that feels silkier."

Sounds pretty amazing but are there any cons?

According to dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, Dr. Anjali Mahto, for those with normal skin types, there are no specific cons, but as a woman who suffers with excessive facial hair (otherwise known as hirsutism thanks to polycystic ovaries, a hormonal condition that affects one in 10 women in the UK), I wasn't as impressed with the finished result – and I really regretted it.

As a beauty writer, a flawless, fuzz-free face was so attractive to me but, after booking in for a dermaplaning treatment at a skin-care clinic of my choice, my temperamental (and often spot-prone) skin felt sore and looked unnervingly red. It took up to 48 hours for the uncomfortable, tender feeling to subside.

After the sensitivity disappeared, I loved the silky smooth feel of my complexion, which was now free of the baby hair that only ever seemed to stop my foundation from sitting properly, but while it is a complete myth that your hair grows back thicker and darker when you shave it, my hair felt different. The blunt ends made it seem coarse and prickly and having to dig out ingrown hairs became routine.

After months of resorting to DIY shaving with a Tinkle razor (almost identical to those used in dermaplaning and probably something you've spotted on Instagram), I noticed stubbly shadows and spots begin to form under my skin and, when three layers of concealer wouldn't cover them up, I knew it was the wrong treatment for me – something which Dr. Anjali sheds more light on.

"Those that [have] excess facial hair are better off having treatments such as regular waxing, threading or better still, laser hair removal," she says. "Although these treatments do not permanently remove the hair, and maintenance treatments may be required, I do believe, however, that they are still better options than dermaplaning."

Should YOU avoid dermaplaning?

So we've established that dermaplaning might not be an effective method of hair removal, especially for those who have a hormone imbalance. According to Dr. Anjali, the treatment should also be avoided if you suffer from acne or pigmentation problems, as they could potentially become worse following the treatment.

"Sensitive skin types may not tolerate the procedure well either," she advises, "and those with inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema and psoriasis should also avoid it." Dr. Chantrey agrees: "Those with active acne and vascular lesions may not be suitable for this procedure."

Still intrigued? Make an effort to meet with your technician before booking in, so that your skin can be assessed. It’s important to discuss whether your skin will react to it in the right way.

If you're going to do it, do it properly

Nope, I don't mean shaving along to a YouTube tutorial (and trust me, there are hundreds). I mean getting the professionals in, every time. No one knows more about dermaplaning than skin expert and Harley Street-based aesthetic Dr. David Jack.

"I do dermaplaning alone or in combination with skin peels and I call this my Egyptian Facial treatment," he says. "Generally, dermaplaning – which can be done every six weeks – comprises of cleaning the skin with antiseptic, and then I usually apply a very light exfoliant, before gently shaving the entire face with a sterile surgical scalpel blade. After this, I apply a combination of different serums and finish off with a high factor SPF, which is so important."

Dermaplaning is anything but a shave 'n' go treatment. Afterwards, your skin requires a little bit of extra TLC – and it might be an idea to give your skin-care regime an overhaul.

"Following dermaplaning, the deeper layers of the skin are more exposed, and as a result, penetration of active ingredients is much more efficient," says Dr. Jack. "This is an ideal time to use plenty of anti-aging ingredients. I generally advise a vitamin C or E serum in the morning followed by an SPF 50 moisturizer, because the downside is that the skin may be more sensitive. In the evening, I recommend a retinol (vitamin A in its purest form) night cream in liberal quantities."

He continues, "Usually, the skin will be a little red and dry for a day or so, but it usually looks its best a few days after the treatment."

A little freaked out? There are other ways to get your skin glowing

We've already touched on hair removal but if the thought of taking a scalpel to your face sends chills down your spine, there are other ways to attain luminosity. "Good exfoliation can be achieved by regular use of AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids), retinoids and other skincare products," says Dr. Anjali.

Recently launched, Alpha-H's Liquid Gold Rose is a gentler version of its sell-out sister, Liquid Gold, and harnesses glycolic acid to slough away dull surface cells, brightening and refining at the same time. Simply drench a cotton pad and swipe away.

Also on our radar are NeoStrata's Smooth Surface Daily Peel Pads. Packed with glycolic acid, the two-part package, which includes nifty dry pads and a travel-friendly 60ml solution, improves skin texture and tone. Unlike others, it is an AHA that can be used every day.

And if you're after even quicker results, pick up The Ordinary's 2% Retinoid instead. It encourages cell renewal at lightning speed to leave you with crystal-clear, radiant skin – but it is important to note that using a retinoid and an AHA together may cause irritation, so choose one or the other. And whatever you do, don't choose an exfoliator containing beads or crystals as they could potentially tear skin. Ouch.

“I think that’s the great thing about dermaplaning,” concludes Dr. Jack. “It is clean exfoliation without the scratching.”

Brave enough?

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