Laser hair removal is being adopted by men and women alike to control and maintain their body hair. The major benefits of laser hair removal over waxing or shaving are its ability to offer a longer term solution while also being less painful than other alternatives.
Laser hair removal refers to the process of applying a beam of pulsing, concentrated light against the skin in order to remove hair. The light from the laser is absorbed into the hair’s pigment (known as melanin). The hair converts the light’s energy to heat, which damages the hair follicles and stops hair growth.
1. It’s Not Immediate
Laser hair removal is a long-lasting solution for unwanted hair. However, it’s not always permanent, as some hair follicles will eventually repair themselves. Also, the hair does not fall out immediately. Instead, the hair will most often fall out over a period of weeks. Areas treated with laser hair removal will remain hairless for 6 months to a year after laser hair removal. When the hair regrows it is generally finer and lighter in color, and studies have found a 60 percent decrease in hair growth after removal. Retreating, areas will deactivate even more hair follicles so over time results should be even more pleasing.
2. It Requires Multiple Treatments
Consistency with your treatments is therefore, important for the best results. The initial treatment of laser hair removal will take multiple sessions, generally two to six, to remove all the unwanted hair in the target range. After that, most will need maintenance treatments to continue cleaning up those areas. This is for a few reasons.
The first is that your hair grows in phases and cycles, meaning that some of your hair is young and fresh at the same time that other hair is older. The older hair will likely fall out soon, making way for new hair. Laser hair removal is most effective on younger hair, so having multiple treatments over a broad range of time will allow you to target those new hairs that emerge from the cycle.
The other reason for follow-up treatments is the maintenance is required to remain hairless, since hair that has been removed might eventually grow back (thinner and lighter though it may be) once the follicles rejuvenate. In this case, it’s best to have another treatment as these hairs grow in and are still young.
3. It Won’t Be As Effective If You’ve Waxed Recently
Since the light treatment targets the pigment in your hair follicles, it does need that hair to be present. Waxing removes that hair root, meaning that if you’ve recently waxed, there won’t be any hair to absorb the light and the laser hair removal treatment won’t work.
It is, however, recommended that you shave or trim the area before laser treatment. Unlike with waxing, where it’s most effective to have a healthy amount of hair growth before a wax, you need to shave or trim off the top hair before your laser hair removal treatment.
4. It Works Best on Dark Hair and Light Skin
The efficacy of laser hair removal relies on the amount of melanin present in the hair. Darker hair contains more melanin meaning, it will more quickly heat to the point of damaging the hair follicles. If however, the skin is also dark, meaning the skin also contains more melanin, then the energy from the light pulses will be spread wider and therefore will not work as quickly. In other words, the best result happens when the pigment of the hair, and not the pigment of the skin, absorbs the majority of the light.
This also means that it’s recommended for you to keep out of the sun about a month before your appointment, as tanning can render that pricey appointment less effective. Because of this, you might want to start your treatment in the fall and continue it throughout the winter, when you’re most likely to holded up indoors. This also means no spray-tanning or bronzing lotions which might alter the pigmentation of your skin.
5. Where Are the Best Spots to Get Hair Removed?
The most common laser hair removal treatments target locations on the body, including the legs, armpits, upper lip, chin and bikini line. It can work on almost any area, except for the eyelids and the sensitive skin surrounding the eyes.
Laser hair treatment is, however, uncommon (not advised and more risky) on men’s faces. Men tend to prefer shaving, since laser hair removal means long-term hairlessness, decreased growth rate after treatment, and possible side effects.
6. Does It Hurt? Is It Dangerous?
Laser hair removal is much less painful than waxing and more effective than shaving. Some do experience a light amount of pain. Numbing cream helps with this for those who are sensitive to the little shocks. Some experts suggest that sensitive clients can take some paracetamol and even an antihistamine.
While there is some risk of damaging the skin when the hair and skin are very similar in pigment level, advances in technology continue to make it a better option for those with dark skin.
Side effects can include temporary skin irritation, such as redness or swelling. This irritation will generally disappear quickly. Moisturizer should help to soothe the irritation. In some cases, individuals experience pigment changes, such that the skin temporarily darkens or lightens. This should also go away on its own, as the skin heals. Rarer cases have experienced blistering, scarring, or changes to the skin texture.
In most cases, these side effects are easily avoided, since the physician (or you) will do a test patch during your consultation or first visit to make sure that you skin will react well to the treatment.
7. Does It Need a Professional or Can You Do It at Home?
Professional laser hair removal can be extremely expensive. For those who aren’t ready to invest in this cost, there are at-home laser hair removal machines, that allow you to administer it for yourself.
Laser hair removal can give long-lasting hair loss results, as well as long-term, hair reduction that allows for easier maintenance. If you’re ready for laser hair removal, we recommend doing your research and taking the steps to make sure that all of your sessions are as effective as possible, so you can enjoy excellent stress-free results.