By: Carly Cardellino
Photo: Courtesy of Getty
On top of marrying multiple rich dudes, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor had something else in common: They both shaved their faces and had amazing skin because of it.
Dermaplaning (the clinical term for using a straight-edge-like facial razor on skin to mechanically — not chemically — exfoliate it) has many beautiful benefits, as Monroe and Taylor knew: It removes deep layers of dead skin cells thoroughly (rather than moving them around on your face as you exfoliate, which can happen with scrubs); it’s a fine exfoliation rather than gritty (think of it as wearing ice skates rather than golf shoes on an ice rink, says Mary Schook, licensed aesthetician and cosmetic chemist); and it gets rid of the vellus hairs (the tiny peach fuzz that covers your face) that can make your complexion look lackluster and can even contribute to clogged pores that break you out. “It also makes your skin smoother, allows any products you apply after to penetrate deeper, and promotes cellular turnover, which is one of the reasons men always look five or so years younger than their age, since they’re constantly exfoliating through shaving and encouraging new cells to the surface of your skin,” Neal Schultz, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist in NYC, adds.
While this probably sounds right up your alley—because who doesn’t want to look young and beautiful?—I’m sure the idea of “shaving” your face is terrifying because you’re thinking, “Oh no, I don’t want my facial hair to grow back thicker and darker in the process!” But it won’t, don’t worry. “That myth exists because people mistake the wispy feeling of their unshaven facial hair with the slightly blunt feeling they experience as their hair starts to grow back in as ‘thicker,’ and the new, not-yet-sun-bleached hair as ‘darker,’” Dr. Schultz says. “So it’s more about what you’re feeling and seeing versus what is actually going on.”
Ready to shave your face like a HBIC? Dr. Schultz recommends wetting your entire face first to soften the hairs, and then applying a cream or gel shaving cream all over your face, since these formulas’ viscosities will help deflect friction, keeping your skin from getting irritated. Try EOS Ultra Moisturizing Sensitive, Fragrance-Free Shave Cream. Then, use your facial razor in the direction your hairs grow for a subtle shave and against their growth pattern for an even closer shave. Finally, rinse and moisturize your face. For sanitary purposes, “make sure to wash your razor every time you use it and dip it in 90 percent rubbing alcohol after each use,” Schook says. Also, these razors are duller than the ones you’re used to, so only use them three times before tossing them for the best results.
One last thing to know about dermaplaning: Shaving any part of your body can cause ingrown hairs, especially if you have medium to darker skin, which means your hair follicles are more curved. Hair grows in at a parallel angle, so when you shave your face, it ends up with a harsher, blunt cut that is more likely to puncture the skin as it continues to grow. Hair follicles of Caucasian people, on the other hand, aren’t curved so there is less of a chance of ingrowns, but it’s still possible.