Jan 9, 2023

Dermaplaning Vs Shaving: What's The Difference?

What's the difference between dermaplaning and shaving?

Formulate user Catherine wrote us with the following question:

What's the difference between dermaplaning and shaving? Isn't dermaplaning just shaving your face? Can't I just use a regular razor and shave my face and get the same results?

Thanks for writing, Catherine!

Before we can answer this question, let's define what Dermaplanaing is. 

What is dermaplaning?

Dermaplaning goes by many names - sometimes it's referred to as blading, skin leveling, or microplaning. These are all the same thing. Dermaplaning is a nonsurgical and non-infasive way of rejuvenating the surface of the skin. It involves using a scalpel to exfoliate the epidermis (the top layer of skin) and remove the tiny vellus hairs on your face. When the vellus hairs and dead skin cells are removed, the skin underneath is able to reflect more light, creating a glowing appearance. 

Dermaplaning has actually been around for a long time - over 40 years. Celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe had their faces shaved to get a picture-perfect finish before going on camera. Celebrities continue to be big fans of dermaplaning today, since it allows for makeup to look flawless on camera. 

While dermaplaning is a method of exfoliation, it's a bit different than other, more common methods. Dermabrasion or Microdermabrasion are the types of exfoliation that you're likely most familiar with - they both involve sanding the top layer of skin using teeny tiny crystals. Dermaplaning is different, since there are no tiny crystals involved. All that's needed is a sterilized scalpel and a very steady, well trained hand.

During the dermaplaning procedure, the scalpel is slowly and precisely scraped across the skin at a 45 degree angle in small, exact movements. The scalpel is pulled in the opposite direction of the hair growth while the esthetician providing the treatment supports and stretches the skin. The esthetician follows a regular pattern - she starts at one side of the face and finishes at the other to ensure all areas of the face are covered. 

Dermaplaning vs shaving: what are the differences?

To talk about the differences between dermaplaning and shaving, we spoke with an Aveda trained esthetician with over 10 years of experience. She requested to remain anonymous, so we'll refer to her as Jane. 

Dermaplaning and shaving have different goals

"Okay, so there are some things in common. When you shave, you want to remove thick hairs from your body. And when you dermaplane, you're also removing hairs. But these hairs are vellus hairs, and have a different structure than regular hairs, which are called terminal hairs. When you shave, you're just trying to make the terminal hairs go away. They'll come back as stubby little dark hairs, and you'll shave them again. The hair removal is the whole point, the only point. With dermaplaning, you might be doing it at least partially remove the vellus hairs, but you're likely doing it for a bunch of other reasons too. Maybe you get blackheads because the vellus hairs trap gunk in your skin, and you're dermaplaning to reduce them. Or maybe you want to reduce the appearance of dark spots. Or maybe you just want your makeup to look amazing! These are all goals of dermaplaning - it's not just about removing the tiny hairs. When you shave, removing hair is your only goal."

Dermaplaning requires a different type of blade 

"You can't use the same razor that you shave your legs with," says Jane. "The skin on your face is way more sensitive than the skin on your legs. Regular razors for shaving usually dull a little bit over time while blades used for dermablading have to remain super sharp, since the movements are so precise. If you nick your leg and have a cut when you shave your legs, it's no big deal. But if the skin on the face gets cut with a dull blade, it could leave a scar, and obviously that's a much bigger deal. The blades for shaving are designed to be quick, while blades designed for dermablading are meant to be used very slowly and carefully."

Dermaplaning requires some form of antiseptic

"You should never ever get dermaplaning done if you have bad acne. That's an excellent way to worsen your breakouts. Dermaplaning can actually trigger breakouts, so it's super important to apply an antiseptic so that doesn't happen. If you're shaving terminal hairs with just a normal razor, breakouts usually aren't nearly as much of a concern, and you won't need to worry nearly as much about potential acne."

Shaving is much faster than dermaplaning

"When you shave, it's pretty fast. You run the blade where you want it to go and you get done pretty quick," says Jane. "When I'm dermaplaning I take my time. The motions are a lot smaller, and you always need to be supporting the face. It usually takes me about 30 minutes to get an entire face done, and that's before you apply the antiseptic and other products. Most women I know don't spend more than 10 minutes shaving their legs."

Dermaplaning is done dry

"Oh my god please don't dermaplane when your skin is wet. That's such a good way to get a cut. Most people shave when their skin is wet, using some sort of cream. But dermaplaning should be done on completely dry, oil-free skin. That's how you get the most out of the treatment."

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