Unwanted body hair has been a pain in most women’s lives since the dawn of time (or their teens). We’ve mastered waxing it, tweezing and even shaving it, but we have yet mastered the art of “Laser Hair Removal”. We think this is because laser hair removal is the one hair removing method that you can’t do on your own “yet” and you need a doctor to do it for you.
This causes a problem sometimes because not all doctors are of the same level of proficiency and one day you may go to a laser clinic and get burnt or scarred because your doctor failed to tell you all the precautions beforehand.
So, to make sure that every woman is fully knowledgeable about the procedure and everything it entails, we’ve compiled for you all that you need to know about laser hair removal, even the things some doctors will not tell you.
1. Laser hair removal is permanent hair reduction, not hair removal.
The laser targets a pigment in our skin called “melanin”, which lies deeps in our hair follicle. This causes the hair follicle to heat up, causing either enough damage so that the hair follicle is completely destroyed, or it’s destroyed enough to slow the hair growth process. This means that some hair will never grow back, and some stubborn follicles will grow hair again after a year or so, granted the hairs will be weaker and thinner, but they will grow back none the less. Remember that this is a method to reduce the amount of hair you have, not remove it all completely forever.
2. It is somewhat painful, but you can do something about it.
Pain is a relative term, what is painful to you, could be a form of tickling to your friend. So, in order to save yourself from a lot of possible agonies, we recommend using a topical anesthetic, ask your local pharmacist for a recommendation. Apply it from 15-60 mins before your appointment (depending on the anesthetic). If your session is too much to handle even with the anesthetic, ask your doctor for ice packs to place on the area before they use the laser, so the cold can numb your skin and pain receptors.
3. The treated hair doesn’t fall off right away.
Although you may see results instantly, and your hair won’t grow back in a month or two (depending on your body and how consistent you are with your treatments), don’t go to a laser hair appointment the day you need your body to be silky smooth. A lot of doctors don’t actually tell you that the treated hair could take up to 6 days to fall off completely.
4. Don’t go to a laser appointment with a fresh tan, real or fake.
When you tan, your skin’s melanin levels increase (that’s what makes your skin look darker), and since laser hair removal works by targeting melanin, if you go to your laser appointment with a tan, you’ve got a high chance of getting hyperpigmentation or even burnt. This is because your tan skin too will absorb the laser instead of just the follicle. You need to wait at least from 4-6 weeks before your next laser session. This also means fake tans are a no-no, for the same reason. Laser hair removal in the winter time, where you’re least likely to have tan skin is the best idea.
5. Shave before your laser hair appointment.
Just because you’re getting your hair removed using a laser, it doesn’t mean you should ditch your shavers just yet. It’s vital if you want to get the best results from your laser treatment, to shave beforehand. Because the laser targets the melanin in the hair, if your hair is pretty long, it will absorb most of the laser and will not allow the hair follicle to get all of the treatment itself, leaving you with hair that will not fall off.
6. Ditch your skincare routine on the day of your appointment.
If you’re used to layering on serums, oils and moisturizing creams on your face and body, we recommend you skip your skincare routine the day you’re going to your laser session to avoid any reactions with the laser that could lead to discolorations, hyperpigmentation or any other complication. Go with a clean fresh face and body for the best results.
7. Don’t go out in the sun or to the gym right after a session, or for the next 3 days.
This one is very important. Your skin is extremely sensitive right after a laser appointment, so you don’t want to go out in direct sunlight as to not aggravate the skin that was just lasered. The same goes for going to the gym and sweating your butt off; you should especially avoid the gym if you’ve had your underarm hairs done. You could risk your skin getting itchy, scarred, red or inflamed.
8. Always ask for a broad spectrum antibiotic cream right after your session.
Some doctors will tell you that you don’t need to apply any medication right after your laser appointment, but they are wrong because it is always better safe than sorry. Ask your doctor or your local pharmacist for a good topical antibiotic that is appropriate for your skin type and will help you fight off any unwanted infections.
9. Always shower with cold water after your laser appointment.
After you’ve kept your prescribed topical medication on your skin for 2 hours or so, it’s good to wash your entire body with cold-ish water and no soap (or mild natural soap if you must). Avoid hot water so it doesn’t open up your pores and possibly risk your skin getting itchy, red, or inflamed
10. Always tell your doctor about any current medication you’re currently on
Laser doctors sometimes forget to ask you if you’re on any medication that could possibly affect the outcome of your laser treatment. Things like Accutane or Reintol-A that are prescribed to some people with acne prone skin, will make your skin extra sensitive to the laser treatment which means you’ll have a higher chance of hyperpigmentation or discoloration occurring. You should be off any medication that could affect your skin for at least 4-6 weeks before you start laser hair removal.
Share this with someone who is getting their hair removed using laser treatment, so that they can stay informed about all what they should and should not do to keep their skin safe, smooth and silky soft with no scarring in sight!