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Dermaplaning: Exfoliation for Instantly Improved Skin

Dermaplaning is a skincare procedure involving manual exfoliation and removal of dead skin cells and vellus hair (fine facial hair, or “peach fuzz”) using a sterile blade.

Dermaplaning is performed by a licensed professional, such as a dermatologist, esthetician or medical spa RN, and produces immediate results of even skin texture and tone. The procedure is safe, non-surgical, has no downtime and requires no anesthetic. Most skin types can benefit from dermaplaning, and it’s safe for men and women of all ethnicities and ages -- even for pregnant or nursing women. The benefits of dermaplaning include enhanced product penetration for both professional treatments and home care, reduction in fine line and wrinkles, minimizing acne scars and removing vellus hair. It may be used prior to chemical peels, microneedling and microdermabrasion.

Benefits:

  • Enhanced product penetration. One of the greatest benefits of this superficial exfoliation is its ability to promote deeper, more even penetration of corrective products.
  • Removal of hair. Temporary removal of “peach fuzz”, creating a brighter and smoother skin tone and texture.
  • Increase matrix proteins. Matrix proteins, such as collagen and elastin, are largely responsible for the visible signs of aging.  The trauma to the skin from dermaplaning promote the production of collagen and elastin formulation, an excellent treatment for anti-aging and those suffering from textural scarring.
  • Hyperkeratosis reduction. Hyperkeratosis is a buildup of the outermost layer of your epidermis.  That buildup causes the dull complexions, improper product penetration and acne. Dermaplaning reduces the thickness of the outer layer of the skin to correct those skin conditions, while increasing the thickness of the remaining epidermis and dermis.
  • Hyperpigmentation. Demaplaning is most beneficial for hyperpigmentation because of its ability to increase penetration of products that inhibit the production of melanin such as hydroquinone, kojic acid, lactic acid and retinols.
  • Acne Simplex Reduction. Non-pustular and non-inflamed acne respond very well to this treatment.  The removal of the outer layer aids significantly with extractions as well as enhanced penetration of the topical products.

Introduction

Dermaplaning is a non-invasive skincare procedure that removes dead skin cells and facial hair, and is also known as surgical scraping, epidermal leveling and blading. Dermaplaning has been performed for decades but gained prominence in medi-spas in the 1990s. The procedure involves the use of a #10-inch blade, which is about 1-inch long and curves into a sharp point. The blade is used on clean, dry skin on the forehead, cheeks, chin, nose and neck. The results are an instant evening out of skin texture and enhanced tone; the long-term effects of increased cell turnover, fewer wrinkles and dark spots; reduction of acne scarring; and the removal of fine facial hair. According to dermatologist Sheilah A. Lynch, MD, dermaplaning “tricks” the body into thinking it has undergone injury and needs to repair itself; therefore, the skin creates newer, healthier cells.  Removing the “peach fuzz” is beneficial since the fine hairs trap debris and oils and creates a dull look to the skin (something like that).  After dermaplaning, skincare products and treatments perform much more efficiently since they can penetrate the skin more easily. Many women report that makeup goes on smoother as well.

How is dermplaning performed?

The skincare professional cleanses the skin using a mild, pH-balanced cleanser, removing all makeup and thoroughly drying the skin (leaving no damp areas). Skin is then toned to balance the pH. Then:

  1. Skin is held taught as the practitioner works around the face, holding the blade at a 45-degree angle and using short, steady strokes. The practitioner concentrates on one area to make sure the same area is not bladed twice.
  2. After the procedure, the skin is toned again to remove excess skin cells and hair.
  3. After this, other procedures can be stacked for maximum efficacy, including peels, microneedling and other professional treatments.
  4. Finally, corrective serums and moisturizer are applied, followed by an SPF 30.

The procedure takes approximately 20-45 minutes and is performed every 2-4 weeks depending on your skin condition.  For those looking for maintenance, once a month is good. Hyperpigmentation should be treated every 3 weeks, and acne that is not inflamed or pustular can be treated every 2 weeks until the condition has been corrected, then monthly will suffice.

After the procedure, clients are advised to avoid direct sun exposure for 48 hours. Also, always use a minimum of SPF 30 every day.

Types of skin that can benefit from dermaplaning

Most skin types can benefit from dermaplaning, especially those concerned with aging and pigment.  Pregnant or nursing women who are looking for a non-chemical exfoliating treatment can also benefit. Dermaplaning is also approved for men, women, young adults and any skin type or ethnicity, but should be avoided by pustular acne skin types or hyper-sensitive skin.

Won’t removing facial hair cause it to grow back thicker?

Contrary to popular belief, removing facial (or body) hair will not cause it to grow back thicker. Hair growth is genetically programmed, and there are two types of hair that grows on our bodies: vellus hair (tiny, translucent blonde hairs) and terminal hair (thicker, coarser hair that grows under arms, on the pubic area, on eyebrows, legs and, for men, the mustache or beard).  Once the vellus or terminal hairs are cut, there is a blunt edge, but the hairs grow back finer and softer instead of thicker.

Dermaplaning and complementary procedures

Dermaplaning can be used in conjunction with mild to medium chemical or enzyme peels since it preps the skin before these procedures. Professionals recommend dermaplaning along with peels containing chirally correct compounds, which are mirror images that mimic the skin structure; therefore, they are less irritating and more chemically pure. Some chirally correct ingredients include L-lactic (derived from milk), L-malic (derived from apples) and L-tartaric (derived from grapeseed) acids.  Since this is considered a “double exfoliation” process, there is a chance of peeling or flaking when dermaplaning and peels are used together.

What are the negative side effects of dermaplaning?

While dermaplaning is no riskier than shaving, possible side effects include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Sun sensitivity
  • A burning sensation
  • Bleeding
  • Irritation

Those who are recommended to avoid dermaplaning include cancer treatment patients, individuals with actively acne-prone skin (including cystic acne), have taken Accutane in the past 6 months, are on antibiotics or any other medication that can thin the skin or have an uncontrolled bleeding disorder. Clients who use Retin-A are advised to cease using 2-3 days before the procedure.

Other tips

  • To maintain the results of dermaplaning between visits, or for those who want to introduce their skin to blading, Shiseido and Tinkle make eyebrow or facial razors with sharp, notched edges that can be safely used at home. Although these are, of course, not as sharp as the professional blade, the results are similar and instant: smoother, softer and more even textured skin.

 

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