Your Ultimate Guide to Laser Hair Removal
What You Need to Know Before You Go, From Consultation to Aftercare
Considering laser hair removal? If so, you’re probably tired of shaving, waxing, plucking, and seeing stubborn hairs grow back every so often.
Laser hair removal gives you an amazing way to get rid of unwanted hair and keep it away. It’s become an incredibly popular solution for smooth, hair-free skin as a result.
But before you jump onto the laser hair removal bandwagon, you should take a bit of time to familiarize yourself with this treatment option to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Just like the lasers used in many laser skin treatments, hair removal lasers target the melanin within hair follicles, specifically in the hair bulb (the follicle growth centre). The hair bulb is more commonly known as the root. Melanin is a colour pigment responsible for eye, skin, and hair colour.
Once targeted, the heat from the laser damages the hair follicle. The follicle will gradually break apart, and in turn, this slows and prevents hair growth. Several treatments are typically needed for the best results.
What Parts of The Body Can You Treat?
Laser hair removal can treat almost every part of the body that experiences hair growth, with a few exceptions.
The underarms, bikini line, and lower legs respond particularly well to laser treatment, for example. On the other hand, getting rid of stubborn facial hair, or treating the forearms, can be tough as these areas are pretty stubborn when it comes to treatment.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though! You simply might need a few more treatment sessions to get the results you’re after.
Common treatment areas include:
- Upper lip
- Abdominal line
- Bikini line
- Buttocks line
- Inner thighs
- Lower legs
- Lower back
Who Can Get Laser Hair Removal?
Since the laser targets the melanin pigment, people with darker hair and lighter skin will see results much sooner than those with darker skin tones. Thankfully, experienced clinicians can get amazing results for people of any skin tone. In some cases, this means a different wavelength for the laser, while in others it simply means more careful application.
Grey, white, and blonde hair was also, once upon a time, at a loss when it came to laser treatment. There’s good news here, too, as advances in technology and treatment have made it much easier to get rid of these stubborn hairs.
If you’re pregnant or have any hormonal conditions that might cause stubborn growth, you should not receive laser hair removal treatment. Furthermore, if you’ve got tattoos in the treatment area, then you’re not going to be able to use a laser to get rid of that hair. The pigments in the tattoo ink will react with the laser and could cause a burn or blister.
You also need to let your clinician know if you are on any medications before treatment. Some medications that make your skin more sensitive to sunlight can affect your skin during the laser treatment, such as antibiotics, acne medications, and skin care products that contain retinoid and alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs).
The light from the laser can also cause cold-sore breakouts. Thus, if you’re prone to getting cold sores, speak with your doctor about taking preventative medication.
Skip Laser Treatment During the Summer
Laser treatment exposes your skin to some particularly strong wavelengths of light. While it’s a controlled exposure, you do need to cover up. Exposure to the sun can irritate or aggravate laser-treated skin quite easily, after all.
As such, experts and providers recommend saving laser hair removal for the Since you should avoid exposing your treatment area to the sun during the course of treatment, summertime isn’t the best time to schedule things—unless you’re willing to cover up throughout the summer, which sort of defeats the purpose!
Fall and winter are the best times to get laser hair removal since you’ll be covered up and indoors more often anyway. Plus, because the results last, you’ll be able to enjoy hair-free skin during the beach-bound, sunny months of the year!
Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?
Laser hair removal is considered more of a semi-permanent hair removal treatment. It does cause a permanent reduction in hair follicle growth rates, though, so while some hair may grow back, it’s going to be at a much lower volume than before.
While it doesn’t cause permanent removal of all targeted hair, some hair may never grow back, and what’s left will only need occasional touch-up treatments once a year.
Any hair that does grow back will grow back slower than before and will grow back finer, lighter, and softer.
Average Treatment Duration
The typical number of sessions needed before you see lasting results is between 5 and 10 treatments, depending on the treatment area and individual hair growth rate. Treatments are typically scheduled at one-month intervals, depending on the rate of hair growth.
Some people may need treatment every 2 to 3 weeks in the beginning, but once hair growth slows down, treatments will be needed every 4 to 6 weeks.
Easy-to-treat areas with coarser hair—such as the bikini line, underarms, and lower legs—will usually require fewer treatments than stubborn areas such as the face and arms.
Is Laser Hair Removal Painful?
Compared to waxing, laser hair removal is not considered as painful. Instead, it is described as feeling like an elastic band is snapping against the skin. But most laser hair removal specialists will take steps to reduce discomfort, such as:
- Advising patients to take Advil before the treatment;
- Applying a numbing cream or gel to the treatment area; and
- Using a cooling device to keep the skin cool throughout the treatment.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Although laser hair removal is associated with other spa treatments, such as waxing and facials, this treatment should only be performed by a trained professional to ensure its safety.
While some redness in the treatment area is common, there is a risk of other less common side effects such as burning, blistering, discolouration, and scarring. However, laser hair removal completed by a trained and qualified skin care professional will reduce these risks significantly.
How Do You Prepare for Laser Hair Removal Treatment?
To prepare for your laser hair removal treatment, avoid sun exposure in the weeks leading up to the treatment. Having a tan means there is more melanin pigment present in your skin. And since the laser targets melanin pigment, a tan could put your skin at risk of burning and hyperpigmentation during the laser treatment.
Shave the treatment area the day before treatment to avoid heating and singing long hair that could touch and burn your skin. Shaved hair also allows more laser energy to reach the base of the hair follicle, providing better results.
While it’s okay to shave before treatments, do not wax, thread, or tweeze the treatment area for at least one month before treatment. Since these hair removal methods remove the entire hair follicle from the roots, it leaves nothing for the laser to target.
Make sure the treatment area is clean of makeup and lotions. And if you’re treating the bikini area, wear light-coloured underwear.
Lastly, avoid caffeine before your treatment if you are prone to getting the jitters before doctor’s appointments and medical exams. Caffeine will only increase your anxiety, so instead, try to calm yourself with calming herbal tea.
The top aftercare tips for laser hair removal include:
- Avoid sun exposure and apply sunscreen before going outside.
- Take lukewarm showers instead of hot showers, since heat increases inflammation.
- Once a week, use a washcloth or other gentle exfoliating tool to lightly exfoliate the treatment area and prevent ingrown hairs.
- Shave between treatments, but do not wax, tweeze, or remove hair from the roots in any way.
If you have any more questions or concerns, contact your local laser clinic, and consider laser hair removal to say goodbye to that stubborn hair!