7 Things That Happen If You Shave Your Face

by Lindsey Rose Black and Shea Simmons
Originally Published: 
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The Internet was in a frenzy a while back when women began to embrace shaving their faces. However, questions about what happens when you shave your face began popping up as the trend started to disseminate online. Shaving removes unwanted hair from the face, but are there other benefits to the practice? Do you need a bottle of Barbasol and a four-blade razor?

Shaving can conjure images of a full face of shaving cream and a sad tissue bandage after nicking yourself. However, shaving your face can be done in plenty of ways (including, yes, with a traditional razor and cream), but what most people are referring to when discussing the benefits of shaving is a process called dermaplaning.

Dermaplaning uses a single-blade scalpel to gently scrape both the vellus hairs (aka peach fuzz) and dead skin from your face, and licensed experts do it professionally in salons and spas. The result is a deeper exfoliation and brighter complexion than what you'd get from a manual scrub or traditional razor. However, due to the sharp scalpel, professionals don't recommend attempting to dermaplane at home. Shaving, however, no matter the method, can give similar (though less potent) results for an kind of at-home dermaplane.

Before getting into what could happen when you shave your face, knowing how to do it is pretty crucial. While experts recommend in-office dermaplaning, you can take precautions when shaving your face at home. According to New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Hadley King, the process should be done on clean, dry skin using a clean blade like an eyebrow razor. She advises avoiding areas where the skin is broken, irritated, or infected, like spots of active acne. Using short strokes while pulling the skin taunt, move the razor gently over the skin, but Dr. King says to do this only once in each area. If you don't feel comfortable using a razor due the risk of a cut, she explains that some devices, like the Dermaflash, have built-in safety features.

Convinced you want to switch from threading and waxing for a face shave? Here are seven things you might experience.

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1. Your Skin May Feel Exfoliated After Shaving Your Face

Dr. King tells Bustle one of the biggest benefits you'll see from shaving is exfoliated skin. She explains that shaving is more gentle than other physical forms of exfoliation, such as scrubs, which can be harsh on the skin and result in scratches and tiny micro tears. (If you want or need the deepest exfoliation, you'll still need to head into an office for professional grade dermaplaning.)

2. Shaving Your Face Might Help Your Makeup Apply Easier

Josie Holmes, esthetician at SKINNEY Medspa in New York, says there are a myriad of benefits to shaving your face. One is easier makeup application, thanks to your smoother, hair-free and lightly exfoliated complexion. However, depending on your methods, you may not want to apply makeup right away. While Holmes explains that a quick, at-home shave is gentle and effective, she adds that you should wait to apply your makeup, because immediate application might clog your pores. Holmes recommends shaving at night so your face will be makeup-ready the next day.

3. Shaving Your Face Could Improve How Your Skincare Products Absorb

Along with easier makeup application, your skincare game may improve as well, but there are some variables like how strong the active ingredients are in the products you're using. "Any form of exfoliation can help skincare products sink in better because it reduces the barrier," says Dr. King. "How much this can increase the efficacy will depend on the active ingredients."

For immediate post-shave skincare, Holmes suggests moisturizing products like a hyaluronic acid, lightweight moisturizer, and SPF.

4. Your Skin May Feel More Sensitive After Shaving Your Face

Your skin may be more sensitive after shaving, according to both Holmes and Dr. King. More potent ingredients like retinols, AHAs, and BHAs should be avoided after your at-home shave. To prevent irritation, Holmes recommends waiting 48 hours to apply them, and she advises to stop using them 72 hours before you shave.

5. Shaving Your Face Will Not Make Your Hair Grow Back Thicker

A major myth about shaving your face is the idea that your hair will grow back thicker and darker. But that's not true, according to Dr. King, who says that no matter the type of hair removal method you use, it will never affect the thickness or darkness.

Holmes believes the reason the myth persists is due to the way hair grows back. "Some people will notice when their hair starts to grow back, it can sometimes feel rough," she tells Bustle. "This is just the blunt tip from the closely shaved hair — it has not gotten thicker but just has a more sharp tip."

6. Shaving Your Face Could Irritate Existing Skin Conditions

There are some rules about shaving, especially when it comes to existing skin conditions. San Fransisco-based dermatologist Dr. Caren Campbell explains that those with active acne should avoid the practice, as a razor may knick the blemish, slowing the healing process and leading to potential scarring. Dr. King echoes those concerns and adds that those with rosacea, inflamed, or sensitive skin may also experience additional irritation.

Holmes says people with these conditions should consider a different treatment altogether, avoiding even in-office dermaplaning. However, she also tells Bustle that every person's skin is different and that some with conditions like rosacea love dermaplaning. She recommends seeking a consultation with a professional to determine if you're a good candidate for the treatment or for shaving at home.

7. Shaving Your Face Could Improve The Results Of In-Office Treatments

According to Holmes, in-office and at-home dermaplaning can improve other treatments because both processes result in varying degrees of hair and dead skin removal. In fact, Holmes likes to do them herself, telling Bustle she'll do an at-home shave a week before getting a facial.


Dr. Hadley King, MD, Dr. Hadley King Dermatology

Dr. Caren Campbell, Caren Campbell Dermatology

Josie Holmes, esthetician, SKINNEY Medspa

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