You can take hair off your face however you want, but different tools and techniques will give you different results. If you’re asking whether you can use a traditional razor (like those sold for legs or beards) to get the same effect as a professional dermaplaning treatment at home, the answer is: You cannot. “Traditional razors don’t allow you to get as close to the skin as dermaplaning tools,” says Renée Rouleau, a licensed aesthetician and the founder of Renée Rouleau Skin Care. But you may not actually need a professional treatment or an expensive at-home device to achieve your goals — which I feel well equipped to help you achieve, considering I have peach fuzz, chin hairs, a subtle mustache, and one to two eyebrows depending on how often I pluck.
First, it’s important to understand that the definition of dermaplaning has shifted over the years. In the mid-20th century, it referred to a surgical technique doctors used to improve the appearance of textured acne scars. In the aughts, American aestheticians started using scalpels to “dermaplane” their clients’ faces (i.e., to remove peach fuzz and dead skin cells in a process of exfoliation). And in the past decade, beauty marketers have basically rebranded facial shaving — something women in many cultures, especially those in North Africa and South and East Asia have been doing for centuries — as at-home dermaplaning. Naturally, they’ve developed all sorts of gadgets and tools to help you do it.
Results will vary depending on your skill level and the device you choose, but the principle remains the same: You use some sort of blade to remove terminal hair (the thick, coarser hair that makes up your brows and may grow on your chin or upper lip), vellus hair (finer peach fuzz that grows all over), and potentially the top layer of dead skin cells. When you do that, the surface of your skin reflects more light, which makes your complexion look glowier. Dermaplaning can also “help to improve the absorption of skin-care products you apply afterward,” says Essence Moore, a licensed aesthetician and the founder of Lineage Skin & Hair Studio.
Since dermaplaning is a form of physical exfoliation, “it can also help fade the appearance of acne scars and post-breakout marks as well as hyperpigmentation,” says Rouleau. But be warned: You do not want to do any type of at-home dermaplaning or face shaving if you have active acne or a history of cold sores because it can trigger flare-ups.
If you’re just interested in getting rid of stray terminal hairs or shaving down the vellus hair that grows on the sides of your face like sideburns, you can do that with a facial razor. Just hold your skin taught with the fingers on your nondominant hand and gently shave the hairs with a scraping motion. The Flamingo facial razor is great for beginners because the blade is embedded in a curved plastic head that keeps it at the most efficient angle for shaving. If you know what you’re doing, Tinkle and Kai razors are set in slimmer pieces of plastic so you can control the angle yourself.
For allover exfoliation with the added bonus of hair removal, try one of the at-home dermaplaning devices. They’re designed to maneuver over the curves of your face and tend to have sharper blades. Plus, many of them are motorized for efficiency. The Dermaflash Luxe+ is my favorite, but I’ve also gotten good results with the Michael Todd Beauty Sonicsmooth system and the nonmotorized (and much cheaper) Versed dermaplaning tool. But if you’ve never had a dermaplaning treatment (or you’re not particularly handy), Rouleau says it may be worth going to a pro for your first. “Starting under the guidance of a trained professional can help you understand the technique and ensure you aren’t overexfoliating your skin,” she explains.
Whether you go with a disposable or refillable tool, be sure to use a fresh blade every time, just like the aestheticians do, says Moore. I’m a rule-breaker, so I’d be the first to tell you if you could sneak a few more uses out of a facial razor or an at-home dermaplaning blade, but I have cut myself enough times to realize this is one beauty rule that’s worth following.
And speaking of rule breaking, don’t let me stop you from using a leg or beard razor to shave your face. It may leave a little stubble behind or slice the hairs on a blunter angle so they feel as if they’re growing in coarser or thicker (they’re not). But that’s really the only downside — unless, of course, you cut yourself.
At-Home Dermaplaning Tools to Try
Jennifer Sullivan answers all your beauty-related questions with practical advice and zero judgment. Send your questions to AskABeautyEditor@nymag.com. (By emailing, you agree to the terms here.)
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