Peach fuzz, or as the pros know it, vellus hair, is the ultra-fine, downy hair that grows on your face.
Vellus hair can become denser with age or as a result of conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome. For many people, peach fuzz can cause insecurity and low self-esteem.
If you’ve ever done a quick Google search about quick fixes for female facial hair, you’ve probably come across the term “dermaplaning.” Dermaplaning is an easy, quick process that involves shaving vellus hair on your face with a specially designed dermaplaning razor.
If you dream of baby-smooth, hairless skin, this quick and noninvasive procedure may sound like a dream come true — however, dermaplaning isn’t always as dreamy as it sounds.
In fact, if it’s performed on the wrong type of skin by an inexperienced hand, it can lead to some serious horror stories.
Dermaplaning is a procedure in which a single razor blade is used to remove the top layer of skin. The procedure is quick, relatively painless, and involves little to no recovery time.
While the removal of peach fuzz is one of the main draws of dermaplaning, it also has other benefits.
“There is a big misconception about dermaplaning, as people think it’s a hair removal treatment,” Maja Swierczynska, the lead aesthetic practitioner in London’s STORY clinic and dermaplaning trainer at Harley Academy, tells us. “Dermaplaning is actually a superficial exfoliation treatment, and a removal of vellus hair is a positive side effect of this treatment.”
As an exfoliation treatment, dermaplaning can also help to remove dead skin, increase brightness, and improve skin texture.
At first glance, dermaplaning looks relatively simple. Most of us shave our legs at home. So, why not shave our faces at home, too?
While dermaplaning may look like something you could do at home, most professionals recommend against it.
“In my opinion, one of the biggest dangers is that dermaplaning blades became available online,” Swierczynska says. “Without knowing the correct technique, such as the right angle and how you should hold the blade, you can easily cut the skin and this can lead to infection.”
Not only can self-dermaplaning be dangerous, it can also be less effective.
In a clinic, dermaplaning can be paired with another treatment, Swierczynska explains, such as a skin peel, LED light therapy, or a HydraFacial, which will leave you with much more noticeable results.
As with any exfoliating treatment, dermaplaning can result in some temporary side effects.
If you are prone to acne, dermaplaning can result in a fresh breakout. You can reduce your chances of a breakout by avoiding active acne when dermaplaning. As Swierczynska says, “Dermaplaning shouldn’t be performed on active acne, as it can easily spread the bacteria and cause another flare-up.”
Because dermaplaning removes a layer of skin, it can leave your face more exposed.
If your dermaplaning blade contains any bacteria or you have bacteria on your hands, you may be more likely to experience a breakout after your treatment.
Dermaplaning can also cause irritation to your skin. After all, the procedure involves scraping a blade across your skin.
For 1 or 2 days after your dermaplaning session, you may feel that your skin is red, discolored, or itchy.
It is perfectly normal for your skin to feel dry or even a little flaky after an exfoliating treatment like dermaplaning.
Ultimately, the procedure should improve skin dryness by lifting away any dead skin cells. However, in the first few days, the exfoliation may leave your face feeling tight and dry.
A more intensive dermaplaning session may leave you with a few tiny cuts or grazes on your skin, especially if you have uneven skin texture.
However, if you get the treatment from a professional, any cuts should be incredibly small and should heal fully without leaving any marks behind.
While there are some side effects to dermaplaning that are normal and temporary, there are other potential side effects that can be more damaging — especially when the treatment goes wrong.
As Nicola Russell, celebrity facialist and owner of Skin Geek clinic, tells us, there is always a low risk that the procedure can go wrong — even if you visit a professional. “Like most treatments, there are always some risks involved if it’s not carried out by a trained professional or if you aren’t an ideal candidate for it,” she says.
Certain people, it turns out, aren’t good candidates for the treatment.
If you have an active skin condition such as acne, for instance, the treatment may end up spreading bacteria around your face, resulting in irritation and breakouts.
If you have sensitive skin or a recent sunburn, you may find yourself with more severe side effects. The treatment is also unsuitable for people who have taken Accutane or isotretinoin within the last 6 months.
When dermaplaning goes wrong, Russell explains, “you may be left with nicks, scratches or deeper cuts, and there is always the risk of infection and possible scarring. If the skin has been overworked, then your skin’s barrier will be impaired and you will be left red, inflamed, and sensitive, and many skin care products will irritate it.”
Other problems can occur, too.
Swierczynska explains that the dermaplane scalpel can end up removing hair from your hairline or eyebrows if the practitioner is inexperienced or if you perform the procedure at home. She also says that it’s vital to avoid using a hairdryer after the treatment, as your forehead will be more prone to burns.
In some rare cases, a dermaplaning treatment can turn into a nightmare. Swierczynska recalls one client who tried to perform the treatment on herself at home.
“This patient decided to use dermaplaning to remove her facial moles,” she says. “She ended up in [the emergency room] with an open bleeding wound on her cheek and a few stitches afterwards.”
Dermaplaning horror stories can also occur in clinics. YouTuber Taylor Wynn got the treatment in 2019 and was left with deep scratches and cuts all over her face.
In a video, she explained, “I got dermaplaning done today by a professional who, like, Edward Scissorhanded my whole face and neck.”
Throughout the procedure, Wynn felt blood dripping down her face several times. “She put on stuff afterwards and it was stinging,” she went on. “I just hope it’s not going to scar.”
She wrote, “Numerous times throughout this facial, I felt uncomfortable, which I verbally expressed as burning, stinging, and on fire. I was told I must be sensitive… When I went to the bathroom to change, I saw my skin — red, raw, and with a beating sensation — I knew something was wrong.”
Maffei’s horror story has a happy ending.
“Skin heals — fast!” she wrote. She was prescribed a wound-healing cream and after 2 weeks, her skin was almost back to normal.
While these dermaplaning horror stories may fill you with trepidation, the treatment can be extremely beneficial and effective if it’s done right.
Here are a few safety precautions to bear in mind when planning for your dermaplaning session.
Who should avoid dermaplaning?
- people with severe sunburn
- people with active breakouts
- people with sensitive skin
- people who have been taking Accutane or tretinoin in the past 6 months
- people with cancer who are undergoing cancer treatment
What products should you avoid before and after dermaplaning?
- Russell suggests that dermaplaning candidates should avoid retinoids for 3 to 5 days before treatment.
- Candidates should also avoid retinoids for 2 to 3 days after dermaplaning.
- Avoid any physical scrubs for 2 to 3 days after treatment.
- Avoid makeup for 24 hours after treatment.
- Wear SPF after the treatment to avoid sun damage.
Other things to bear in mind
- Do your research. Make sure the clinic you choose has trained practitioners and good reviews.
- Speak with your dermatologist or dermaplaning esthetician to make sure you’re well-prepared.
Dermaplaning can be a wonderful exfoliating treatment that can rejuvenate and refresh your skin, while simultaneously removing that annoying, fluffy peach fuzz.
However, like all skin treatments, there’s always a risk that things can go wrong.
Avoid your own dermaplaning horror story by seeking out a trained professional for the procedure, preparing your skin, and doing your research.
Meg Walters is a writer and actor from London. She is interested in exploring topics such as fitness, meditation, and healthy lifestyles in her writing. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, yoga, and the occasional glass of wine.