Among TikTok's smartest beauty trends such as skin icing (for a glowing complexion) and ditching eye cream (trust us on this one) are a handful of slightly unusual, occasionally inadvisable "tips and tricks," like using glycolic acid as natural deodorant and fake tan as lip liner. More recently, users have been buzzing about a viral smooth-skin hack that eschews traditional skin-care products entirely in favour of something a little sharper...
What is face shaving and what are the skin benefits?
Forget exfoliating acids and face scrubs: Skin-care experts and beauty lovers on TikTok are all about face shaving for achieving smooth skin, claiming that, by helping shed dull skin cells and fine hair, the technique makes skin appear softer and more even in tone and texture. Instead of a standard razor (the kind you might typically use to shave your legs or underarms), the trend sees beauty enthusiasts use a razor with a single angled blade (like TikToker Helin below). Otherwise known as a "tinkle" razor or face razor, the tool is much smaller and more precise than other types, which makes it better-suited for use on facial skin.
The pro version of the smooth-skin hack is known in skin-care circles as dermaplaning, though TikTokers are going wild for the DIY version of the treatment using smaller at-home razors. "Dermaplaning is a superficial exfoliating technique that helps to remove dead skin cells and vellus (fine) hairs from the surface of your skin," says Aimee Piper, skin expert and senior aesthetician at Vie Aesthetics. "In some cases, dermaplaning can also help remove acne scarring [skin staining or discoloration left behind by spots, rather than deeper acne scars]," explains Piper, who also points out that by removing dead skin, your skin-care products are absorbed better. "It makes skin smooth and soft and lends it a radiant appearance, while allowing makeup to glide on easier."
What is the difference between face shaving with a tinkle razor and dermaplaning?
According to Dr. Ana Mansouri, skin-care expert and aesthetic doctor at Kat & Co, dermaplaning in a professional setting uses a surgical scalpel, which is a very sharp, sterile disposable blade, and aestheticians are trained in methods to ensure clients reap the skin-care benefits. "This is why you may not receive the same results at home as you would in a clinic," adds Dr. Mansouri. However, she suggests there is some method in the treatment when done at home with a tinkle razor. "Using tinkle razors at home isn't quite the same as dermaplaning, but it is a good enough at-home version of the same idea," she says. "In my opinion, it is actually a decent way of achieving a similar result."
Dr. Mansouri points out that professional dermaplaning blades are only available to qualified aestheticians (they are incredibly sharp and provide a much deeper effect on the top layer of the skin compared to other razors, she says) but tinkle razors can have benefits, too. "I am actually a big fan of this trend and have been doing this for many years myself," says Dr. Mansouri, who touts it as a great mode of physical exfoliation. "Due to its exfoliating benefits, it can also help to keep clogged pores at bay."
How do you shave your face with a tinkle razor for smooth skin?
TikTokers are using skin-care products, usually nourishing facial oils and serums, when shaving their face to help the razor glide across skin with ease. Arabella Preston, founder of Votary, agrees that it's a useful technique. "The Votary Magic Razor Wands work beautifully with a Votary cleansing oil," she says. "I like to use them with Super Seed Cleansing Oil as it is so nourishing and soothing on the skin. I simply apply a few drops to my upper lip and chin, then gently stroke the razor over the area to remove the hairs. I do this maybe every two weeks at the most (with occasional plucking of the odd rogue whisker in between)." Preston touts it as a cost-effective and fast treatment. "It doesn't cause irritation or prolonged redness to the skin like other at-home facial hair removal options," she says. "You also don't need an appointment or to wait for regrowth before using them. They are a game-changer."
Others, like TikToker Joy, use moisturizer, although Dr. Mansouri suggests using the razor on thoroughly cleansed and dried skin. "Use it at a 45-degree angle and in downward short strokes in the same direction of the hair growth," she says. "Avoid going over the same area multiple times as this will only increase the risk of compromising the skin barrier or causing irritation." It's also important to be gentle, she says. "Avoid breaking the skin barrier so make sure you are using featherlight strokes while holding the skin taut with your other hand." Dr. Mansouri adds that any trauma or break in the skin can potentially cause infection and inflammation, including breakouts.
Does shaving your face with a tinkle razor actually give you smooth skin?
As someone with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), I experience excess facial hair and actually find face shaving regularly to be a huge confidence boost. The impressive TikTok videos have swayed me to switch up my technique and try a smaller facial razor, which seems to be much more precise and offers a closer shave. Though I've previously disliked the technique, tinkle razors have come a very long way in recent years and big-name skin-care brands like Votary, Versed, and even Sephora are producing them at a much higher quality. Gone are the days when razors would take off too much skin, cause painful red nicks, and promote stubble. While my trusty laser hair-removal machine helps with stubbly, shadowy facial hair growth these days, I'm after an in-between treatment. Could TikTok's latest smooth-skin hack get rid of my facial hair easily, make my bumpy skin soft, and help the hyperpigmentation left behind by the occasional spot?
I started with Votary's tinkle razor as it's the daintiest I could find and didn't look too scary. Like Dr. Mansouri suggested, I used the razor on clean, dry skin, shaving downwards very carefully. I was immediately surprised by how quickly and painlessly it removed my hair; I even did a double take. Usually, razors feel uncomfortably scratchy on my skin, but this was so smooth. I've been using the tinkle razor twice a week for just short of a month and can confirm it's the quickest and easiest way to remove hair. I followed TikTok's lead and shaved in the direction of hair growth rather than against the grain, and can report no ingrown hairs or bumps. My skin is also much less rough, a lot softer, and more even in tone, though I'm yet to notice a major difference in some skin staining left behind by breakouts. Amazingly, my makeup applies so much better than before, too, and teamed with my trusty Bad Habit Daily Dose Multivitamin Moisturizer and SPF every day, I'm very happy with the condition of my skin.
Are there any risks or dangers of face shaving using a tinkle razor?
Before you give this a try, there are a few things you should know. Piper says that at-home face shaving, when done correctly, may have hair removal benefits; however, she has seen clients who have attempted to perform the treatment themselves and, in doing so, have taken off too many layers of skin. If you're using sharp scalpels, Piper recommends leaving it to the professionals. "This causes superficial scratches and even scars, which can take a long time to heal," she says.
It's also best to avoid shaving with a tinkle razor if you have sensitive or reactive skin, especially active acne. "I would suggest avoiding this type of treatment altogether as it will likely worsen your condition," says Dr. Mansouri. ""As this is a form of physical exfoliation, don't overdo it. Once every one to two weeks is more than enough. Be cautious with chemical exfoliants (skin-care acids, such as glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acid) and other active skin-care ingredients (like retinol) three days before and after to avoid causing inflammation or reactions." In other words, give all of the above a wide berth if you're going to attempt face shaving with a tinkle razor for smooth skin.
It's a common misconception that hair grows back thicker after shaving, but it does grow back blunt, which may make it feel more coarse. If that's an issue for you, using a tinkle razor is probably not the best mode of hair removal. Says Piper, "I would recommend other methods of hair removal such as waxing, laser hair removal, or our incredibly effective Hair V Go treatment to remove facial hair, in order to avoid stubble and shadows."
Finally, Dr. Mansouri says that if you're going to give this a go at home, cleanliness is key. "Ensure you only use an appropriate single-use tool that is kept clean and sharp. Do not reuse these razors, as they will cause damage and infection when going blunt or contaminated," she reiterates.
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