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Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Laser Hair Removal

De-fuzzing is a chore. It really is. Whether it’s waxing or shaving, plucking or threading, the whole process is time-consuming and never ending. I swear, the minute I shave my legs I can feel the blighters growing back. So, it’s no surprise that so many of us are investing in laser hair removal as a more long-term solution.

Although it sounds like something from a futuristic sci-fi film, laser hair removal has been around for years. The first laser hair removal device was invented back in the 60s. Since then, technology has vastly improved to provide quicker, painless and safe treatments. This has largely been driven by the beauty industry, but treatments are also being offered by hospitals to treat certain conditions. Polycystic ovary syndrome, for example, is a condition that can cause excessive hair growth (hirsutism) on the face, chest, back or buttocks and can have a devastating impact on a woman’s self-esteem.

Laser hair removal can be used on all these areas in addition to legs, arms and bikini lines and offer a permanent reduction in hair growth.

How laser hair removal works – the sciency bit

Laser hair removal works by inflicting damage to the hair follicle. Light energy from the laser enters the skin and is absorbed by a pigment called melanin in the surrounding hair follicle. The hair follicle overheats and dies, preventing further hair growth.

Sounds gross doesn’t it? But, it’s quick and relatively painless (ever been flicked with a small elastic band?). You won’t smell burning hair or hear the tiny screams of hair follicles - don't worry. And you will need a course of 6-9 treatments, to ensure you zap every follicle.

It sounds easy; anyone can do laser, right? Wrong. Lasers are high energy, potentially damaging beams of light. Always research your provider and go only to licensed clinics with appropriately trained practitioners.

What are the side effects of laser hair removal?

There are a few side effects and your practitioner will talk you through these before your treatment. The skin, directly after treatment, might be itchy and red or raised - a bit like goose-bumps - but this should settle after a few hours. In the wrong hands, laser hair removal can cause pigmentation issues and even burns.

Can anybody have laser hair removal?

Most people can have laser hair removal treatment, although it is best for those with pale skin and coarse, dark hair. Some lasers are suitable for darker skin tones, but make sure you have checked with your practitioner.

Do not have treatment if you are pregnant or breastfeeding - this is because hormonal changes can affect hair regrowth, so it’s a waste of money to have the treatment during this time.

Laser therapy only works with a natural skin tone so if you have sunburn, a deep sun tan or fake tan, it won’t work as the skin absorbs the laser, rather than the follicles.

Treatment is not recommended if the area is inflamed, infected or if you are suffering from conditions such as acne, rosacea or dermatitis.

A qualified and reputable practitioner will conduct a thorough consultation, including the Fitzpatrick test and a patch test to make sure the treatment is suitable for you. They will also chat about any concerns you may have.

Discover more about laser hair removal in our treatment guide.

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