We are firm believers that laser hair removal is the best hair removal method available on the market. Indeed, it has many advantages over shaving, waxing and electrolysis, which we already covered in a previous blog post. However, we do understand that switching to laser hair removal can be a big decision as it remains a mystery for many. You may have questions on how laser hair removal works. Or you may just have many other questions. Which is why we put together this little guide to everything you need to know about laser hair removal.
Some things of that list of things you need to know about laser hair removal will seem very obvious. Some other a bit less. The essential is that upon going to your first laser hair removal session, you know everything there is to know about laser hair removal, the procedure, how to prepare. Thus, will you be fully confident and ready to tackle this first step on your journey to be hair-free.
Everything You Need To Know About Laser Hair Removal
1. Shave before you go
You may think that is it a bit contradictory that you need to shave before you go for your laser hair removal session. After all, shaving stimulates hair growth so why do it? Not only does shaving makes laser hair removal safer but it also makes the procedure more efficient.
It is one thing to know about laser hair removal that remains a mystery for many. Laser hair removal uses selective photo thermolysis to target pigments in the hair before getting to the follicle. The longer the journey to the follicle, the less energy gets to it. Thus, long hair hinders the process.
Furthermore, since the pulse of energy would heat up the whole hair, it would also increase the risks of burning, scarring and pain. Coming clean-shaven to your session will ensure the treatment is safe and effective.
2. Stop waxing and plucking
Waxing and plucking are medium-term hair removal method. It takes a few weeks to see hair back on the treated areas. Both methods will remove the hair plus the root, thus leaving nothing in the follicle. Waxing also has some bad effects for the skin.
Laser hair removal targets the hair to get to the follicle. If there is no hair to target, the laser cannot get to its destination. It can take up to six weeks before the follicle where the hair wax removed produces a new hair that will grow and show above the skin.
As a results, waxing in between sessions would completely hinder the treatment. Not only would you have to wait a few weeks before the hair grows back after your first session before you can wax, but most of the hair would not have grown back on time for your next session. A waste of time and money.
3. Avoid the sun before and after
Since laser hair removal targets the pigment in the hair, the sharpest the contrast between skin and hair, the better. Thus, it is important to avoid staying in the sun and tanning before your session.
Most important of things to know about laser hair removal is to avoid the sun after your session. Indeed, the laser will leave your skin more sensitive and vulnerable. Thus, UV-rays could really damage it. Sun damage is really hard to correct.
Beyond burning your skin, it may also cause hyper or hypo-pigmentation. It is thus important to apply a strong SPF after each session. Should you be in the sun often or naturally tanning quickly, ask for a YAG laser during your session as they are the safest for darker skins.
4. It is not that expensive
Contrary to the common misconception, laser hair removal is not that expensive. It may seem so, but it is not. Laser hair removal is like a membership that you pay upfront. For example, should you be looking to do your full legs, you will pay around $1,300.
Paying upfront that sum seems like a lot. You need to think about laser hair removal as a long-term skincare investment. After completing your laser hair removal sessions, you will be hair free close to permanently. You may need a few touch-up sessions once year but overall, you will not have to spend any money on hair removal.
Say goodbye to waxing and shaving. All that waxing money you would have paid each month over fifty years will come to a much larger amount than one year of laser hair removal once in your life. Long-term, it has a much cheaper cost and is a much better investment!
5. Laser hair removal is for everyone
Another thing to know about laser hair removal is that it is actually for everyone. For a long time, people believed people of color were not able to undergo the procedure but they can. Improvements in technology now allow all skin complexions to be treated.
Since dark skins are richer in pigments, the laser may not be able to differentiate between hair and skin. However ND:YAG lasers like our V-Frost solve that problem. Indeed, its 1064nm wavelength , is not as highly absorbed by melanin as other wavelengths.
Due to this, the wavelength can safely treat all skin types because it deposits its energy deep into the dermis without relying on melanin to do so. Since it does not rely that much on pigments, it can also treat blond and ginger hair on fair skin, which are lower in melanin. However, laser hair removal for dark skin and fair hair make require more sessions.
6. It is not painful
A lot of people avoid laser hair removal as a hair removal method because they think it is painful. And while it is not painless, it is not painful either. Simply because “pain” is the wrong word here.
During a laser hair removal session, you will feel heat coming from the laser and a sensation of pinching when the energy gets to the follicle. Because the laser gun sends a lot of waves at once, you experience that sensation a lot of times during the session.
While it may not be painless, it will not be unbearable either. The sensation is uncomfortable, like you’d be slapped with a rubber bands multiple times or bitten by many mosquitos at once.
7. You do need several sessions
One huge factor to take into account when undergo laser hair removal is the role of the hair growth cycle in the treatment. The hair growth cycle determines the speed at which body hair grows. For the treatment to be efficient, the laser must reach the follicle through the hair. Thus, there needs to be a connection between the two.
The only phase of growth where hair and follicle connect is the anagen phase. Thus, it is the only time laser would work. Unfortunately, only 20% of all body hairs are in this particular phase at any point in time. Thus, one session of laser hair removal will only be able to target 20% of all your hair.
That is why several sessions are required, in order to target the hair that was not in the right stage before and thus could not be targeted. Since some hair may take much longer to get back into the anagen phase, it is also possible that some hair may never be targeted during your treatment, thus requiring touch-up sessions later on.
8. Results will vary because of many factors
Following up on what we just said before, many factors may impact the results of your laser hair removal treatment. First of all, your hair growth cycle may interfere, as mentioned above. Second of all, the procedure may take longer for dark skins and fair hair.
Genetics can also have a role if you naturally have more resistant hair, follicles that are more resistant and thus take more attempts to damage. Medication such as birth control or hormone treatments can also interfere. Indeed, the hair growth cycle is mostly regulated by hormones.
How sensitive a patient is may come in play too. If your tolerance to pain is very low, the laser intensity may be lower for you and thus, you may need additional sessions. If you miss a session, you may also make the process less efficient and thus need some more appointments.
9. Tell the technician of your medication
One thing to know about laser hair removal is that there may be contraindications to undergoing the treatment depending on the medications you may be on. Hormonal treatment may interfere with the procedure but will not make it any less safe.
Other medications however, combined with a laser treatment, may have an impact on your health. For example, antibiotics increase photosensibility, which will increase the sensation of discomfort and could lead to pain during the session.
Other medications like Roaccutane, acne treatments or anything retinoid-based, should not be taken while undergoing laser hair removal. While some retinoid treatments will require a two-weeks pause before a laser session, some other like Roaccutane will require a six months pause.
10. It is not permanent
Official, laser hair removal is not permanent. Indeed, it is too new of a treatment to have extensive research done over years to prove that it is indeed permanent. To the FDA, electrolysis is the only permanent hair removal method that may be called as such.
However, most patients undergoing laser hair removal will achieve permanent hair removal. While customers should not expect it, it is very common that they become hair-free forever. The repetitive targeting of hair follicles will damage them beyond repair or regeneration and may lead to their destruction.
Thus, they will be unable to produce more hair permanently. A very rare consequence to laser hair removal is that it will stimulate hair growth. However, this is less than 0.1% of all patients undergoing laser hair removal.
11. Laser hair removal is safe
One other thing to know about laser hair removal is that is very safe. Like any other hair removal methods or cosmetic procedures, it may have side effects such as swelling, burning, redness, etc. However, those are very rare, especially if the procedure is done well by a certified laser technician.
The safety of laser hair removal will depend upon how the technician is providing the service and whether the patients is following recommendations seriously. As mentioned above, you must come in clean-shaven, avoid the sun before and after, communicate whether you are on any medication, etc.
12. Practice aftercare seriously
Last but not least of those things you need to know about laser hair removal is that the success of the treatment will be as much on the technician that it will be on you.
Indeed, while the laser technician will ensure the procedure is safe, communicate with you about the intensity of laser is right, if you feel pain, etc and adjust the treatment accordingly, you will also need to be serious about aftercare.
You will be given a set of recommendations to follow to ensure you do not put your health at risk and that the treatment is the most efficient it can be. Avoid waxing, plucking, sugaring, bleaching. Shave before you come. Avoid direct sun light and apply sunscreen.
That is it for the twelve things you need to know about laser hair removal before you come in for your first session. You now what to expect of the treatment and how to act afterwards to ensure the efficiency of your session.