I felt pangs of anxiety as I sat in aesthetician Mary Schook's office, waiting for what would be one of the more unexpected beauty treatments I had ever undergone. I couldn't help but think: This woman is about to exfoliate my face with a razor...what if she slips? Then, my name was called. To buy myself a bit more time, I masked my nervousness in a shroud of professional curiosity and proceeded to ask Schook a laundry list of questions about what I could expect from dermaplaning — a treatment that involves exfoliating one's face with a sharp razor. Thankfully, my anxiety waned as she broke it down for me and I settled into her plush operating chair. To be clear, my nerves weren't for a lack of trust: Schook's a licensed aesthetician, product formulator, founder of M.S. Apothecary, and bona fide "face whisperer." (The latter is according to a former colleague.) But still, a razor? Well, it turns out, the procedure is actually pretty simple and totally pain-free. To begin, Schook cleansed and moisturized my skin. Once my skin was prepped, she applied a light layer of emollient gel to my skin — this provided the necessary "slippage" for smooth dermaplaning. So basically, a very fancy shaving cream. Then, Schook brought out the pièce de résistance: a slender, sanitized razor. She used this razor to gently scrape the surface of my skin, taking bits of dead skin and dirt away with each motion. I learned that if all goes well, this procedure is meant to give me smoother, brighter, and more even skin — not to mention eliminate all unwanted peach fuzz and facial hair. "After dermaplaning, your skin-care products absorb better and your follicles are less likely to fill up with dead skin, oil, and debris," she explained.
The entire process took less than 40 minutes and Schook was very careful to use feather-like strokes to avoid irritating my sensitive visage. But there were still a few bumps in the road — namely, my acne. Dermaplaning over any acne can further irritate it and spread bacteria, causing pimples to become more red and inflamed. This is why she avoided any areas of my face with fully formed or budding zits. Once Schook was satisfied with my skin, she rubbed an antibacterial serum and moisturizer onto my visage. When I looked in the mirror, I was shocked at how smooth my skin looked. The change wasn't drastic, but the texture of my skin had definitely improved. At home, my aftercare was simple: Avoid makeup for the rest of the day, stick to a gentle cleansing routine, and keep the skin hydrated. Heeding her advice, that evening, I washed my face with a gentle clay cleanser, slapped on a bit of Pixi's Glow Tonic toner (it contains witch hazel to disinfect skin and aloe vera to soothe it), and finished off with a light layer of hydrating rosehip oil. In the morning, I noticed my skin looked more radiant and my makeup went on smoother and more even than the day before.
After dermaplaning, your skin-care products absorb better and your follicles are less likely to fill up with dead skin, oil, and debris.
According to Schook, dermaplaning in New York City can cost anywhere between $150 and $250 — which can get expensive fast, seeing as Schook recommends having the procedure done once a week for optimal results. "A weekly regimen will guarantee better skin after four weeks," she says. That doesn't mean you can't get the same results at home — you just have to be very careful. Schook is a fan of the Dermaflash Facial Exfoliating Device, an at-home dermaplaning gadget. "They have a pre- and post-care [cream] that prevents troubled skin," she says. She also has clients who perform their own dermaplaning using brow razors, but it's not really the same thing, as a professional experience will provide a slightly deeper exfoliation due to the sharp carbon or carbon-steel blades that most doctors, nurses, and aestheticians use.
Whether you've opted for a professional or at-home treatment, be sure to take excellent care of your skin after having it done. Avoid putting on any makeup directly after you've dermaplaned and be sure to effectively cleanse and moisturize skin daily and nightly. It's also important to remember that dermaplaning is your weekly exfoliation. This means you should avoid using any manual or chemical exfoliants, as this could irritate your skin. At the end of the day, dermaplaning is essentially just a fancy word for face shaving. According to Schook, men who shave regularly experience a host of skin benefits due to the exfoliation performed by their razors. When done safely, this can be an effective way to achieve brighter, smother, fuzz-free skin. Personally, due to the fact that I still have consistent acne flare-ups on my cheeks and chin, this procedure isn't one I'd shell out for or perform on myself weekly. But for anyone who has clearer skin and feels the need for a little brightening action, this treatment will definitely deliver.