Katrina Clarke | June 19, 2015 | Toronto Star
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.”
The method: Dermaplaning is a two-in-one exfoliation and hair removal procedure. An esthetician uses a scalpel to remove dead skin and vellus hairs (the peach fuzz on your face), scraping in the direction the hair grows.
Pro: An all-over hair-free face and a glowy appearance. Little recovery time needed. Hair grows back within two weeks to two months, depending on the person.
Con: Hair should grow back normally but the ends may be blunt. Other procedures are better at delaying hair regrowth. People with bad acne should not try dermaplaning. Irritation and ingrown hairs are a risk.
Price: At Avenue Skin Care in Yorkville, treatment for the entire face costs $125. The procedure is available for less at other locations.
The method: Hard wax is heated and applied on the skin in the direction of hair growth. When the wax hardens slightly, it is pulled off in the opposite direction, taking the hair with it. For soft wax, a thin layer is applied on the skin and the wax is then pulled off with a strip of paper or fabric.
Pro: Hair should initially grow back softer and with finer ends. If you consistently wax over time, hair growth will be stunted and should grow back sparser and finer.
Con: Risks include ingrown hairs and torn skin. Redness is normal immediately after treatment. It can also be painful.
Price: Starting at $6 for one part of the face. At Waxon Waxbar in Toronto, a full face wax costs $46.
The method: Similar to waxing, sugaring is applied on skin in the direction of hair growth. A strip is then applied to the sugaring paste and the hair is pulled off.
Pro: Sugaring paste is typically not as hot as hot wax. The procedure is better for sensitive skin than hard wax. Over time, the hair will grow back sparser.
Con: Ingrown hairs are a risk. Redness is normal immediately after treatment. It can be painful. Sugaring isn’t as effective as waxing at removing vellus hairs.
Price: Starting at $6 for one part of the face.
The method: Estheticians twist thread around individual hairs, plucking the hair from the root.
Pro: Precision — this procedure is good for shaping eyebrows. Similar to waxing, the hair should initially grow back sparser and softer. Threading is better than waxing for people with sensitive skin. Over time, the hair will grow back sparser.
Con: Ingrown hairs are a risk. Procedure can be painful. Redness is normal after treatment.
Price: Starting at $6 for one part of the face. At Waxon Waxbar in Toronto, a full face threading costs $46.
Laser Hair Removal
The method: A selective laser targets dark pigmented hairs, damaging the hair follicle. To permanently remove facial hair, six to 12 treatments, spaced four to six weeks apart are typically required, say dermatologists.
Pro: Hair removal is permanent. No downtime required after treatment but it is important to wear sunscreen on the treated area. Procedure may or may not be pain free, depending on the treatment and device used. The removal sensation can feel similar to an elastic band snapping on your skin.
Con: Not very effective on hair with little pigment — i.e. blond, red and grey hair. Scarring, infection, pigment change and burns are all risks. It’s also expensive and requires multiple treatments.
Price: Upwards of hundreds of dollars for multiple treatments. At Avenue Skin Care in Yorkville, one upper lip treatment costs $75 and a package of six treatments costs $480.
The method: An electric current heats up one hair at a time, damaging the root.
Pro: Permanent. This procedure is good at getting rid of one hair at a time.
Con: Scaring is a risk. The procedure is particularly time consuming if multiple hairs are being removed. It’s also expensive.
Price: Upwards of hundreds of dollars for multiple treatments.
Sources: The Mayo Clinic, dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett, medical esthetician Erica Savoie, lead instructor in the George Brown College esthetics department, Lucy Cabral, and founder of Waxon Waxbar, Lexi Miles.