Among the most popular beauty treatments currently doing the rounds on social media, particularly TikTok, is dermaplaning, which is a type of physical exfoliation that uses a blade to remove hair and dead skin cells from the surface of the face.
Although it is trending at the moment, it’s nothing new – Marilyn Monroe reportedly shaved her face to help her achieve her bombshell look.
“It was used by cosmetic surgeons in the US in the early '80s as a preparation for face lifts and peels,” says Katrina Cunniffe, who owns Dermaplane Ireland training academy, and Salus Skin & Beauty Clinic in Ballisodare, Co Sligo. “When the medical boards lifted the ban on aestheticians performing the treatments in the '90s, its popularity really started to grow.”
Dermaplaning works by gently scraping away the fine vellus hair – or peach fuzz – on the face, as well as dead skin cells on the surface.
“The treatment is essentially a mechanical exfoliation, so it gets rid of the dead epidermis at the surface to encourage healthier skin,” explains Dr Ahmed El Muntasar, a UK-based GP and advanced facial aesthetics doctor, who is also known as The Aesthetics Doctor.
By removing the dulling peach fuzz and dead cells, the skin looks brighter and more refreshed. “Dermaplaning is also perfect for aiding absorption of your skincare products and supporting perfect make-up application,” says Jenna Unwin, a semi-permanent make-up artist, skincare technician and founder of the Million Dollar Facial system, which features dermaplaning.
The DIY approach
There can, of course, be dangers when clients perform dermaplaning on themselves, without proper training or skin knowledge.
“People could be using very sharp blades, which might cut into the skin, so you introduce the risk of blood-borne infections and cellulitis into the face,” says Dr El Muntasar. “Cellulitis can then seep into the skin in the area around the eyes and cause periorbital cellulitis, which can affect vision.”
“The professional tool for dermaplaning is a very sharp blade and should not ever be used by an untrained individual,” warns Cunniffe. “The tools that are specifically for at-home use are much safer as the blade has a thicker coating and a serrated edge. Home treatments do not remove the dead skin, only the fine vellus hair, as the blade by its nature can only remove the hair.”
With at-home treatments, there is also a risk of damage to the stratum corneum, according to Unwin. “People might be over-exfoliating, which can result in an impaired barrier, leaving them with sensitive, red and irritated skin.”
'Dermaplaning is also perfect for aiding absorption of your skincare products and supporting perfect make-up application'
Of course, properly trained beauty professionals will be able to maximise the benefits of dermaplaning, without running the risk of injury and infection. “A trained therapist takes many factors into consideration before dermaplaning the skin, such as skin type and condition,” notes Unwin. “They should carry out a full consultation and skin analysis. The skin should be prepped, then a balm may also be used to help with dry skin.
“A thorough dermaplaning treatment will work lightly back and forth around the contours of the face, and the therapist will finish with beneficial serums and SPF, ending with full aftercare advice. They will also be working in a sterile environment, reducing the risk of post-procedure breakouts.”
Dr El Muntasar emphasises that it’s important to lubricate the skin properly to avoid any uncomfortable scraping, and to also use clean blades to minimise the risk of infection. In addition, he says that therapists and clients need to acknowledge that the treatment isn’t suitable for everyone.
“Dermaplaning should not be performed on skin that has any active acne breakouts, skin sensitivity issues, broken skin or cold sores ,as all you are doing is spreading the infection over the entire surface of the face, and potentially introducing infection to the lower layer, causing cellulitis and foculitis,” says Cunniffe.
Training and education
Due to its ability to encourage dewylooking skin and remove hair on the face, dermaplaning is continuing to grow in popularity in salons, skin clinics and spas. However, it’s important that proper training is carried out and that beauty professionals continue to educate clients on the risks of carrying out their own DIY treatments at home.
“Dermaplaning is a wonderful treatment to have on your menu as it can be included in any facial you offer in the salon – it is a perfect preparation as products start to work faster on the skin as the barrier of dead skin is removed,” says Cunniffe. “But proper training is essential as the therapist needs to know the correct guidelines and protocols to adhere to when performing dermaplaning with another treatment.
“When dermaplaning first entered the Irish market, there was some fear of the unknown associated with it. But now that it has been around for a number of years, the beauty industry has embraced it as an important tool in its arsenal of treatments.”