From The Straits Times    |

Image: Showbit

If the thought of dragging a razor-sharp blade against your skin sends chills down your spine, you’ll be surprised to know that this process can supposedly make skin appear flawless (even up-close).

We’re talking about dermaplaning, which involves the use of a razor to remove dead skin cells, as well as fine hair, from your face.

Fine hair helps regulate our body temperature and acts as an external sensory unit to alert you to the presence of dirt or dust on your skin. But removing this hair (along with dead skin cells) also makes skin feel baby-soft and look brighter – the main benefits fans of this treatment are after.

Old meets new

While the treatment has been gaining popularity with doctors and aestheticians at clinics and skin spas in New York or Los Angeles in recent years, dermaplaning isn’t a particularly new concept.

Japanese women have been shaving their faces at home for centuries, and famous beauties like Cleopatra, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor allegedly did so. In fact, this beauty ritual is so common in Japan that there are beauty salon chains dedicated solely to “kao sori” (shaved face) services there.

So, why the recent interest in other parts of the world? The treatment became somewhat of a trending beauty topic after American celebrity facialist Kate Somerville told The New York Times last year that she swears by dermaplaning and recommends it to all her celeb clients.

Since dermaplaning isn’t available in most aesthetic clinics and skin spas in Singapore yet, we decided to check in with local doctors to find out if the DIY version is worth a shot.

The low-down

Our first question – does it hurt? No, says Dr Low Chai Ling, medical director at The Sloane Clinic, who explains: “Some of my patients have approached me about this procedure, which is basically skin exfoliation by shaving. Although it sounds scary, in essence, it’s just a simple shaving procedure, akin to how one would shave off stray brow hairs.”

Hang on. Won’t shaving facial hair cause it to grow back darker? Dr Low reassures us: “It is a myth that shaven hair grows back darker.”

Dr David Loh, medical director of David Loh Surgery, adds: “The exfoliation process leads to a clearer complexion as new skin regenerates faster. If done well, dermaplaning can really help in the absorption of serums too. My advice is to find someone who does it well.”

Dr Alvin Wong, medical director of SKN Mediaesthetics, agrees: “It would be best to have the treatment done professionally. The face is a 3-D surface, so doing it yourself might be tricky.” He adds: “It would be essential to get a good-quality multi-blade shaver, and use a new blade each time. Cleanse the skin with a disinfectant such as a surgical spirit and apply a light, clear lubricant such as olive oil prior to shaving. The procedure can be repeated every one to three months, depending on the individual’s hair growth rate.”

The downsides

Before you decide to take a blade to your mug, it’s best to note the possible side effects.

Dr Georgia Lee, medical director of TLC Lifestyle Practice Clinic, cautions: “Compared with Caucasians, Asians tend to have a thinner stratum corneum, so our skin may become more sensitive to chemicals in skincare or sunlight as a result of overscraping.” Dr Low adds: “One potential problem is that the blade can cut the skin. Furthermore, this procedure may cause the spread of bacteria, so it should not be done on acne-prone skin.”

Our verdict

While the promise of smoother, brighter-looking skin sounds tempting, the thought of shaving our own faces with a sharp razor still sounds daunting (and reasonably so). For now, we’d prefer sticking to other treatments that can deliver similar results, like microdermabrasion and chemical peels – and leave anything that requires a sharp blade and a steady hand to the professionals.


This story was originally published in the March 2016 issue of Her World magazine.