Face shaving: It’s nothing new for women—especially in this day and age.
Why are modern-day women taking razors to their faces behind locked doors? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that with mobile devices, we (not just celebs) are all caught in HD’s crosshairs—all the time. And today, being camera-ready means giving face that doesn’t show peach fuzz glistening in the sunlight.
Whatever the case, it got us thinking: What’s the best way to get rid of peach fuzz? Is shaving the face skin beneficial for a woman? Are there better ways to rid our mugs of unwanted hair? It was time we went straight to the experts—and try out three specific methods for ourselves.
We rang Dr. Jason Emer, a celeb-connected, board-certified dermatologic surgeon in Beverly Hills, who explained that the short, colorless, and superfine facial hair on women, cutely dubbed “peach fuzz,” is called vellus hair and is perfectly normal. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a little hair on the jawline, temples, or upper lip, Emer notes that getting rid of the fuzz can even offer anti-aging skin benefits.
Scrape Away Via Dermaplaning
Take dermaplaning: the practice of taking a scalpel directly to the face and scraping at the top layer of the skin. This procedure not only rids the face of vellus hair, but it also clears away dead skin cells.
“Dermaplaning helps to improve skin texture, and the exfoliation [it provides] stimulates the body to produce collagen and cell turnover—which can minimize fine lines, help reduce acne and make the skin look better,” says Emer.
Emer sent us to esthetician and dermaplaning expert Ramona Cline, who uses dermaplaning to smooth and exfoliate the skin because “it helps take off another layer of dead skin, along with pigmentation, while stimulating collagen to help with texture and fine lines.”
Cline gently scraped away at our entire face—from jawline to hairline, peach fuzz or not—with a fresh Bard-Parker stainless steel scalpel. The sensation felt no stronger than when we scratch at our face with blunt nails, and Cline was so deft with the blade, it somehow felt relaxing. By the end of the $100 service (at the time), our skin was left feeling shockingly smooth and a gradient brighter.
Both Emer and Cline insisted fuzz would not grow back thicker or darker, a legitimate concern many—including ourselves—have. “The hair never changes biology based on what we do on the outside of the skin,” says Emer, adding that changes in hair texture, color, or thickness are often hormonal and occur in the follicle, deep within the skin. “That hair grows back any darker or thicker is a wives tale,” says Cline. But it does grow back.
Electrolysis for ‘Permanent’ Hair Removal
Those looking for a more permanent end to facial hair, though, can try electrolysis, which uses a small microcurrent of energy in individual pins to desiccate the tissue at the bottom of the hair follicle to stop its growth. And, unlike laser treatments, electrolysis works for every hair and skin color.
Tackling individual hairs at their root can be particularly helpful for the types of facial hair with larger follicles: those growing in large clusters (something that occurs more in perimenopause) and deeper, clogged follicles, which can contribute to acne on the skin’s surface. “A lot of acne stems from clogged hair follicles,” says Emer. Individually burning the follicle can be particularly helpful for those with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and hormonal acne.
Burning hairs at the root can sound pretty sadomasochistic, but we were relieved to discover the process was quite tolerable in practice. During a visit to Dana Elise Solutions in Beverly Hills, where owner Dana Elise has administered electrolysis to A-listers for more than 30 years, a treatment to the jawline near the ear and above the lip took an easy 12 minutes with no downtime, redness, or irritation afterward. In terms of sensation, you’ll feel just a split-second sensation of electric flash, like a blip of static shock (thanks, in part, to a numbing cream typically applied before the treatment).
Elise estimates that for about every 100 hairs removed, about 40 percent never return again. The remaining hairs regrow in three-to-five weeks, at which point another round of treatment is performed. “With each session, the hairs that grow back become finer and finer, and time required to do the treatment diminishes,” says Elise.
Do note, though, that hair removed from the edge of your face may register slightly less painful than the hairs removed from above the upper lip, something Elise noted is typical, as sensitivity typically increases as hairs are removed under the nose.
Tried & True: The Razor
Of course, if you want to kick it old-school, use a razor. Both Emer and Cline note that, for many women, shaving the face is just fine for most skin that isn’t acneic or sensitive. “Make sure to use a new razor every time,” says Cline. “Use a few drops of pre-shave oil,” offers Emer. “With good shaving methods, you shouldn’t have [skin] irritation.”
A version of this article was originally published in September 2015.