The Toronto Star June 20, 2015: Dermaplaning
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The Toronto Star June 20, 2015: Dermaplaning

Bucking the stigma and cutting the peach fuzz

Women are increasingly choosing to shave their faces, say estheticians, with demand up for scalpel method called dermaplaning

KATRINA CLARKE – STAFF REPORTER

Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor supposedly did it. So did Cleopatra.

But the secret behind these beauty icons’ glowing complexions remains taboo, even today.

Why? Because the secret was shaving their face.

“It is like a stigma. Men shave their faces and women don’t,” said Lexi Miles, founder of Toronto’s Waxon Waxbar. “It’s a masculine thing.”

Despite the stigma and a certain cringe-factor, a growing number of Toronto women are undergoing face-shaving procedures behind closed doors, say estheticians. The procedure, called dermaplaning, involves running a scalpel blade over the face to exfoliate skin and remove hair.

“Old techniques are coming back because they work,” said Erica Savoie, a medical esthetician at Avenue Skin Care clinic in Yorkville, adding that dermaplaning has been around for 30 years. “This is tried and true.”

Savoie said she has 30 clients a month who come in for a one-hour dermaplaning session, priced at $150. Her clients range in age from 20 to 80. Some have dark facial hair, others have barely any light hair.

All women have some amount of hair on their face, called vellus hairs, said Savoie. The hairs, more commonly known as peach fuzz, are usually more pronounced on the upper lip, chin and side of the cheek.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘My face is so fuzzy. I can see it in the light,’” Savoie said. “People are so concerned about peach fuzz.”

But when it comes to dermaplaning, many women are still wary. They worry hair will grow back thicker and coarser — like a beard.

“It’s impossible to do that. Or else I would have a ton of bald men coming in the door to have it done,” Savoie said, calling thick regrowth due to shaving a myth.

And while the hair may grow back “a little spiky” because of the blunt cut, the vellus hairs remain soft, she said. Depending on the person, hair will grow back in two weeks to two months, she said.

There are some risks with the procedure, including ingrown hairs and skin irritation, and estheticians say they won’t perform the procedure on clients with bad acne. Dermatologists also say women experiencing abnormal hair growth should see a doctor, as it may be a sign of hormonal imbalances.

But so far, clients are raving.

“I’m thrilled with it,” said Maggie Drew, 69, a retiree who used to work in book publishing. “It gives you lovely, smooth-looking skin.”

Drew, who is fair-haired, said she started noticing fine blond hair on her face when she was in the sun. She tried waxing, but it was too painful, and laser hair removal, but it didn’t work. Laser hair removal works best on dark pigmented hair. Her hair wasn’t dark enough.

After trying dermaplaning in late 2014, it’s now a staple in her beauty regime.

“It just looks cleaner and fresher,” she said.

As for at-home shaving, most estheticians don’t recommend it. But Dr. Lisa Kellett, a dermatologist at DLK on Avenue, says why not? Men do it every day.

She recommends women use a shaving lather and shave in the direction of hair growth to minimize risk of infection.

Savoie said two of her clients shave while they’re travelling.

Shaving, dermaplaning and women’s facial hair removal in general remains a hush-hush topic, but some women see no reason to be embarrassed.

They’re proud of their skin.

“When you get to my age, it’s nice to have nice looking skin,” said Drew. “I mean, I might as well go out in the box looking pretty good.”

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