By askanesthetician on March 07, 2012
If you have a lot of fine facial hair perhaps you have wondered what the best way was to get rid of it? Or have you ever considered why you shave your legs but don’t use a razor on your face? Have you heard of dermaplaning and always thought “what the heck is that?”. I hope this post will clear up all that confusion.
What Is Dermaplaning?
LNE & Spa magazine, which I read exclusively online, had an article back in November, 2011 all about dermaplaning, called, appropriately enough - Dermaplaning. In the article the author Tina Zillman talks both about the technique of dermaplaning and what it does for the skin:
Within the medical community (particularly plastic surgeons), dermaplaning is viewed as a noninvasive surgical procedure that can essentially strip away dead skin to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars. The technique may be used synonymously with dermabrasion (not to be mistaken for microdermabrasion) on many medical websites and patents – hence the name “derma,” relating to the dermis, and “planing” from the word plane that refers to a tool used to smooth a surface. The most commonly used tool is a type of scalpel, a surgeon’s tool that can cause irreversible damage if used improperly. …
From an esthetic perspective, dermaplaning has been performed with a scalpel or a disposable safety razor. Some practices may advertise dermaplaning as an exfoliation treatment, while others use the procedure for hair removal.
Dermaplaning is an ideal treatment for women with fine (otherwise known as vellus) hair all over their faces. The growth of this type of hair, which can appear like a light fuzz on the face, can make the application of make-up difficult and occurs for many women as they undergo menopause and experience hormonal changes. Removing this hair with laser or IPL treatments is not a viable option for many since the hair can be white or blonde and the light then cannot capture it for effective hair removal. Once again, according to the LNE & Spa article:
Hormonal changes in women affect the skin and body, and esthetic dermaplaning essentially shaves vellus hair from the face. Aside from the loss of elasticity, skin thinning and dryness, vellus hair on the face becomes a visible problem on middle-aged women. … Facial waxing is still a common practice for the removal of this hair, but the procedure is prone to many problems. The hair is so fine that gentle facial waxes may not pick it all up, and a mature women’s skin may be susceptible to burning and tearing. Combine these variables with exfoliation treatments, cosmeceutical skin care product use at home, and/or use of certain prescription drugs-and the risk of damaging the skin and causing discomfort is even greater.
From a medical standpoint dermaplaning is considered a treatment for acne scars. According to theAmerican Society of Plastic Surgeons (and please notice the differences here between dermaplaning and dermabrasion):
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning help to “refinish” the skin’s top layers through a method of controlled surgical scraping. The treatments soften the sharp edges of surface irregularities, giving the skin a smoother appearance.
Dermabrasion is most often used to improve the look of facial skin left scarred by accidents or previous surgery, or to smooth out fine facial wrinkles. It’s also sometimes used to remove the pre-cancerous growths called keratoses. Dermaplaning is also commonly used to treat deep acne scars.
Both dermabrasion and dermaplaning can be performed on small areas of skin or on the entire face. They can be used alone, or in conjunction with other procedures such as facelift, scar removal or revision, or chemical peel.
Well Isn’t It Just Shaving?
In American society it is considered odd for women to shave their faces so dermaplaning is a variation on that procedure that is socially acceptable. Rumors persist that many celebrities actually shaved their faces in order to maintain their beautiful skin. According to an article on style.com celebrity esthetician Kate Somerville recommends that women shave their faces:
When it comes to the removal of unwanted hair, women have myriad options. There’s waxing, tweezing, threading, sugaring—all manner of materials and mechanisms to get to the root, as it were, of the problem. Shaving, the most primitive of depilatory forms, has gotten a bad rap in the face of all of these new-fangled approaches. Taking razor to legs still happens with presumed regularity, but gliding these handheld tools against the grain of face fuzz is totally taboo, thanks to the warning that’s been passed from generation to generation: If you shave extraneous hairs, they will come in darker and thicker. Or will they? “It’s a total myth,” aesthetician to the stars Kate Somerville maintains, an opinion she shared with us just a few hours ago in an intimate setting to discuss a bevy of new product launches and her own maintenance must-haves. On good authority (that being Elizabeth Taylor’s personal cosmetic dermatologist, whom Somerville used to assist), the greats (those being Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe) shaved their faces for completely bare skin and an added dose of exfoliation. Somerville herself is a firm believer in the power of the razor—one in particular: Gillette’s Mach 3. Believe it—and ask your S.O. to buy a two-pack next time he’s in need.
I keep reading that Japanese women regularly shave their faces, though I can’t find real proof for this statement, so why are American women so reluctant to shave their faces? Maybe that will change in the future. Weigh in with your opinion on this issue in a poll on the Huffington Post website.
So if you still can’t bring yourself to shave your face in order to remove excess vellus facial hair keep the following in mind (once again I’m quoting from the LNE&Spa article):
Determining whether or not a woman shaving her face is socially acceptable may not have a solid answer today. Some women only shave when their significant other is not looking, some shave next to their significant other, and some will not even entertain the thought-even though they may have had dermaplaning performed by their skin care provider. The status quo has not settled on whether or not it is acceptable, but that may change in the future. Most public information about female shaving focuses on the exfoliation aspects, and how it gives the skin a refined appearance and healthy glow; the hair removal is just another perk that comes with the process. In the meantime, dermaplaning with a disposable, single-use safety razor or eyebrow razor in the treatment room is the safer alternative to facial waxing or light-based hair removal.
Though I work for a plastic surgeon I do not perform dermaplaning. Once I saw a demo of dermaplaning done on a young woman who had fine, very blonde hair all over her face. The procedure did an excellent job of removing all that hair. Then I was given a scalpel to practice on a fake head, but I have to say that it was very intimidating to think that I could on day use a scalpel on a real, live person. If you are interested in this procedure be sure to go to someone who has been properly trained in order to avoid any unexpected injuries.
If you shave your face or know someone who does please comment below. Or if you are an esthetician you performs dermaplaning please comment below.
For more skincare and make-up advice please visit my blog Ask an Esthetician.
Image from www.drinstruments.com
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