Can Dermaplanning Cause Breakouts?

Has dermaplanning ever broken you out? People dermaplan to exfoliate the skin and attain a buttery smooth look, but for some people, it breaks them out. Why is this? In this blog, we’re going to talk about the anatomy of the skin, why dermaplanning might break you out, and what you can do about it.


What is dermaplanning for?


Did you know we have little, fine, often colorless hairs all over our bodies? These are called vellus hairs, and we also have them all over our faces, including underneath our eyes.

These vellus hairs are different from the hairs that compose our eyebrows and the thicker hair we have on our bodies. So, what’s the purpose of these vellus hairs? Well, they help our arrector pili muscle, a little muscle inside of our skin. Vellus hairs pull on the arrector pili muscle when stimulated, and this reaction causes goosebumps when we get cold. These hairs help keep us warm, and they even help sweat evaporate. Additionally, they enable us to feel different sensations more substantially. While helpful, these little vellus hairs can be quite frustrating, and yes, they can even turn wiry. Many start off as vellus hairs and mature into little black chin hairs, a mustache, or even a beard. Usually, this happens to men, but it can happen to people assigned female at birth too. Some people tweeze them, but some people want to completely rid themselves of the hair. However, most vellus hairs are so soft that tweezers glide off of them, and likewise, you can’t really pluck them. For that reason, some people opt to shave or dermaplan them.


How does dermaplanning work?

Dermaplanning is very similar to shaving, but it’s slightly different because of the type of blade used and the angle at which it’s held. A dermaplanning blade is a small, agile tool that you can use to help exfoliate.


Versed Dermaplanning Razor - $19.99

So, if dermaplanning helps to exfoliate, why would removing hairs from the face cause some people to break out?


Does dermaplanning spread dirt or bacteria? Is there something with the blade that causes acne? No, it’s actually the anatomy of the skin and what happens to vellus hairs during dermaplanning that has the potential to cause breakouts.


To begin with, vellus hairs are a part of the pilosebaceous unit, a little facial orifice that includes the hair follicle. The pilosebaceous unit also has an oil gland called the sebaceous gland. This gland creates sebum and oil. Then, vellus hairs help transport oil to the top layer of the skin. Oil from the pilosebaceous unit is pushed up the hair shaft onto the acid mantle. Our acid mantle is our moisture barrier, and this is literally how our skin lubricates itself. Oil climbs vellus hairs to form a waxy protective layer of oil, lipids, fatty acids, and triglycerides on top of the stratum corneum.


So, what happens if we cut those vellus hairs down?


When we cut vellus hairs super close to the skin, it may be harder for the oil to escape from the pilosebaceous unit and to move away from the bacteria that live there. After dermaplanning, the oil can kind of peel up under the skin, and bacteria will begin to consume it. This bacteria is anaerobic meaning it doesn’t like oxygen and remains underneath the skin. In small amounts, this bacteria is fine, but when afforded too much oil, it becomes numerous and creates significant waste products.


Those waste products are very inflammatory to the skin. So, all of this inflammation can potentially come from moving this razor over the skin. Moreover, you may push skin cells over a pore when dermaplanning. So, this motion might seal the pore off, and therefore, make it optimal for a breakout.

Especially since we are supposed to hold the skin taught or stretch it tightly while dermaplanning, this can be a problem for people with sensitive skin. When oil cannot escape because of dermaplanning, this can cause a pimple that looks similar to a razor bump or an ingrown hair.


So, how are pimples different from ingrown hairs and razor bumps?


Although similar in appearance, pimples are definitely different than ingrown hairs. Any person who shaves knows what ingrown hair is, but there are many types of ingrown hairs. One of them actually occurs when the hair gets out of the skin, but then it curls back up and burrows back into the skin. The other types of ingrown hair can come from hair being cut too close to the skin or shaving against the hairs’ direction of growth. Afterward, the hair sits right by the surface, and it starts to ball up and curl up underneath the skin. Ingrown hairs can happen to anyone, but sometimes it’s more problematic for people who have curly hair. As the hair balls up underneath the skin, it gets that red and inflamed appearance of a pimple, but it’s not actually acne.

It’s just this little ball of trapped hair that is inflamed. So, this is another thing many people might experience with dermaplaning or face shaving. Trapped oil, irritation, and razor bumps are all things that can happen after dermaplanning, but here are ingredients that help to exfoliate and prevent it. Additionally, do not use physical scrubs and as always, wear sunscreen, especially on newly exfoliated skin. So, with the right ingredients and precautions, you can remove those vellus hair without causing irritation or breakouts.


Cleanser before dermaplanning


Skinfix Barrier Foaming Oil Cleanser -$30



Press Refresh from Zitsticka  -$36

We’d recommend a NON exfoliating sheet mask unless you know your skin can handle it!





Droplets Microinfuser and Retinol Misting Spray -See  here.

There are different microinfusers available and different serum capsules as well. It’s like a hand-held, gentle serum humidifier for your face!




Moisturizers for after Dermaplanning


Dear Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream -$19.72

Alternative to greasy Vaseline



Pacifica Wake Up Beautiful Sleep Mask-$15

Isntree Hyaluronic Aqua Gel Cream - $19.45

Best for Oily Skin that wants lightweight hydration




For a video explanation, click here!