Keeping up with your hair removal routine can be a drag. Waxing takes care of it for longer, but you have to let it grow out for it to work. Shaving lets you skip the lengthy stubble but you can end up with that “5 o’clock shadow” look by the end of the day.
The solution? Laser hair removal.
Of course, you should never just jump into getting a cosmetic treatment without knowing what it’s all about. Knowledge is power, after all. So, to get you geared up for your procedure, here are the laser hair removal facts you need to know.
It’s All about the Heat
Laser hair removal uses laser energy to target the hair follicles. As you’d imagine, that means hitting them with a burst of heat. Due to the way the lasers are made, this should not burn your skin, though it might leave you feeling sunburned. However, exposure to UV rays can increase your chances of suffering skin damage from the procedure. Avoid the sun before and after your procedure so the lasers can safely do their work.
The Pain Is Pretty Low
Having lasers heat up your hair follicles sounds pretty painful. And we will be honest; it isn’t pain free. However, you should have topical numbing applied before the treatment starts, which lessens the pain. On top of that, the sensations are quick. They feel like a brief sting, which is more noticeable where the skin is thinner.
Results Take Time
Many people think that laser hair removal delivers instant results. However, this is not the case. It will take 2 to 3 weeks before you notice that less hair is growing in the targeted area; this is because the hair below the surface has to fall out. On top of this, you need multiple treatments for complete results. Hair grows in stages, and not every follicle is active at a given time. Most people need 4 to 8 treatments spaced 6 weeks apart to eliminate the vast majority of the hair they want gone.
You Need to Shave before Treatment
But not wax — there needs to be hair under the skin for laser hair removal to work. Why can’t you have hair above the surface of the skin? Many patients wonder about this, since they figure the treatment will take care of it. But in addition to the hair not instantly being removed, not shaving means living with the smell of singed hair until you are able to shave it off, plus any skin irritation this might cause.
The Sessions Are Quick
With laser hair removal, people often want to target multiple areas, some of which are bigger — the legs, for example. You might expect this to take forever, but in most cases, people are in and out in under an hour. If you are just targeting a small area, such as the chin, your entire process might take around 15 minutes.
You Get to Skip the Gym
Due to the heat from the lasers, you need to take it easy for 24 hours after your session. That means no saunas, no overheating and no working out. Doing so risks bacteria growth that can result in spotty skin.
Sometimes Laser Hair Removal Stimulates Growth Instead
This isn’t particularly common, but it does happen. For some people, the heat from lasers trigger the growth of more hair and can even cause the hair to become thicker. This is most common with vellus hairs, which are naturally finer than the rest of your hair. During your consultation, your technician should let you know if your hair is at risk for this.
Your Technician Needs to Know Your Beauty Routine
Some beauty products can interact negatively with the lasers used for hair removal. Scrubs, glycolic acid and retinol creams are big offenders. Depending on what you use, you may need to stop with your products for 2 to 5 days before your procedure and avoid them for a week after.
Light Hair Is Less Responsive
If you’ve ever worn black clothes in the sun, you understand that darker colors pull in heat better. This is true with your hair and lasers as well. Dark hair conducts the heat of the laser to the follicles, sending the follicles into a dormant state. Light hair can make it difficult for the lasers to reach the follicles with the correct level of heat. While it can work to a degree, many people with lighter hair will never quite see full results. However, your technician should clarify this before you sign up for treatment.
Caroll Delo is a board certified laser technician at Simply Smooth Laser Center in Tampa, a niche practice that focuses specifically on laser treatments. Simply Smooth Laser Center offers the most advanced options in laser hair removal, laser skin rejuvenation and laser tattoo removal.