Do you shave your legs? Of course. Do you shave your armpits? Absolutely.
Do you shave your face? What? Most women would never dream of bringing a razor anywhere near their face (we’ve all heard it can make hair grow back thicker or coarser). And those that do shave don’t spill the beans—in a YouBeauty reader poll, of the 24 percent who said they shave regularly, most (22 percent) do it secretly. Shaving is for guys, after all.
But some of the country’s most exclusive aestheticians are slashing this gender taboo, calling shaving the secret to softer, smoother, perfectly exfoliated skin—with no risk of a 5 o’clock shadow.
“It’s a fact that men are mechanically exfoliating their faces each time that they shave, which is why they sometimes appear to age more slowly than women do,” says Mary Schook, NY and CA licensed aesthetician. Don’t reach for your guy’s Mach-3 just yet, though. The kind of shaving we’re talking about is an ultra-precise method known as “dermaplaning,” and it’s done in a doctor or aesthetician’s office with a surgical (read: super sharp) blade.
“It’s another way of exfoliating dead skin cells,” adds Mary Schook. “And it’s super gentle when done correctly. It doesn’t cause inflammation or disrupt the delicate pH balance of the skin the way that microdermabrasion and peels can. No one leaves my office with a red face afterward.”
During a dermaplaning session, an aesthetician pulls skin taut and gently strokes the surgical blade over your face. (As you might have guessed, staying perfectly still is essential or you risk ending up with one heck of a shaving nick.) The blade removes the layer of dead skin that’s responsible for dullness and also helps prep skin for treatment products. “The stratum corneum is removed and this allows for excellent penetration of active ingredients,” says New Orleans dermatologist Mary Lupo, M.D.
The blade also gets rid of tiny “vellous” hairs—aka the layer of fine “peach fuzz” that most of us tend of have. “When you get rid of that hair, the face looks super clean,” says Schook. Some clients also say it helps their makeup go on smoother, since foundation or powder can’t cling to the little hairs. Sounds good, but we’re sure you’re asking the same question we were… won’t the little hairs come back thicker or coarser? Dermatologists say no. “What you do to the surface of the hair doesn’t thicken or coarsen it—including true shaving,” says Dr. Lupo.
And as Schook points out, the blade used for dermaplaning is different than a regular old drugstore shaver. “A shaver is built to shave the thick hair on our bodies, and it cuts hair in a crudely blunt way. Dermaplaning is like that scene in The Bodyguard, when Kevin Costner uses a samurai sword to cut the silk. It’s precise and effortless.”Interested in trying it? Make sure to go to a licensed aesthetician with experience in dermaplaning, or see your dermatologist to find out if it’s right for you. “It’s a safe procedure when performed by an experienced practitioner, but it’s inappropriate if you have certain medical skin conditions such as eczema, cold sores or psoriasis,” notes Dr. Kauvar.
And if you want to go the DIY route, use a brow razor with a safety guard—not a regular shaver. “A shaver will make hair feel stiff, rough or blunt,” says Schook. One more word of caution? “Go slowly—only do it when you don’t have to rush!”