If you’re considering laser hair removal, it pays to study up. I know it’s easy to be lured in by the promise of a stubble-free life, but it’s oh-so important to read up on the facts (and side effects) first – to make sure the treatment is right for you.
I went under the laser (in the name in research, obvs) and here’s what I learnt…
1 The process sounds painful, but isn’t too bad
Dr Daron Seukeran, Group Medical Director at the sk:n clinic explains that laser hair removal works by sending the light of a laser through the pigment in the hair. ‘This (light) converts to heat, which damages the hair follicle and hair bulb.’ I found it to be a quick, sharp pain which I found more painful on thinner skin near my nose, chin and temples. Thankfully the lasers used on me had a cooling mechanism (basically a constantly running cold blast of air right where the laser was pointing) which really helped. I also found it more painful if my body temp was raised due to running across town to make it on time for my appointment. Heat + heat = ouchies. More on this later.
It takes two or three weeks after your first treatment to see a difference, and 8 – 12 treatments to get the full result.
I started seeing real results after two treatments or eight weeks. You also have to be really regular with your appointments because your hair follicles are all at different stages of their growth, so you want to make sure each one has a chance to get zapped.
3 You’ve got to use a hair trimmer/shave the area before you laser (same goes for makeup)
The laser can react with hair on the skin’s surface which will cause some irritation and maybe dreaded burnt hair smell which I learned first hand, yay. Thankfully for me, I knew that whole ‘shaving = thicker darker hair’ was a really common beauty myth.
4 It’s actually a pretty fast process
I go in for a full face appointments and they only take 20 minutes, including a quick chat and makeup removal at the start. Sure, I had to reapply my makeup but at least I could go out afterward. Priorities.
5 You can’t go to the gym afterward
The heat from the laser stays in your skin for 24 hours so no gym, saunas, hot showers, you get it. If you do, you run the risk of creating a lovely warm environment for bacteria to multiply and give you spots.
6 Get ready to think seriously about the sun
Your dermatologist will advise what is best for you, but you might need to avoid sunbathing and sun exposure as much as possible before and after treatment. Also if you have a tan you’ll need to wait till it fades before you can start your treatment. Again, your dermatologist will check in with you about upcoming holidays to make sure you don’t have a holiday coming up which might affect the timing of your next appointment. Stay safe peeps.
7 Laser treatment can trigger more growth in some cases
It’s true, particular types of hair can be stimulated into growing longer and thicker. But don’t worry, if hair isn’t suitable, your dermatologist will let you know.
8 You might need to switch up your beauty regime and products
Scrubs, glycolic acid and retinol creams should be avoided two days before and after treatment. I also started using face mists and added extra moisturisers to my regime as I got a bit more dry. It’s recommended that for a two week period before and after laser, you avoid chemical peels and similarly you should wait 1-2 weeks before using fake tan.
9 Laser hair removal has more than one benefit
I surprised to learn laser can actually help with irritating AF ingrown hairs.’Aside from clearer, smoother skin and permanent hair reduction, laser hair removal also boasts benefits including helping to reduce ingrowing hairs and less irritation of the skin. This is because the treatment encourages hair to grow straight,’ said sk:n’s Head of Medical Standards, Lisa Mason.
10 You can’t pluck, dye or wax the hair
Plucking, waxing and bleaching impedes the process. If you want to be hairless throughout the process, go the shaving route instead. You’ll need these tips to make each shave last longer though.
11 It works on all skin tones
The hair just needs to be dark enough to drawn the laser. sk:n use long pulsed NDYAG lasers – which are safer for treating pigmented or darker skin tones.
12 You might need to go back for top up treatments
Most people report 90 percent permanent reduction in hair growth but fluctuating hormones can make hair grow back.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan UK