Wait, did someone say sunshine? Uh oh - that means skirts, shorts, cropped trousers and itsy bitsy bikinis. And that can only mean one thing - hair removal.
There are so many different types of hair removal out there, and I’m guessing you’ve tried a fair few over the years. Shaving, creams, waxing… the list goes on. But what about laser hair removal? While some of you will have heard of it, you might not have actually given it a go. So, what exactly is laser hair removal, and what should you expect from your treatment? Let's get the lowdown.
How does hair grow?
Seems like a bit of a strange question, but in order to understand how laser hair removal works, it’s worth finding out a bit about the hair itself. Our hair grows in three stages: anagen (the active stage), catagen (the transition phase), and telogen (the resting stage).
In the anagen stage, the hair is at its most active. It has a blood supply, so it receives nutrients to allow it to grow. It’s in this stage that laser hair treatment works best. As our hair grows at different rates, various laser hair removal sessions are needed to target all of the hair during the active anagen stage.
What is laser hair treatment?
While lasers sound sort of Star Wars-esque, they’re actually used quite a lot in the world of cosmetics. In the case of laser hair removal, lasers target the hair’s pigments. The light from the laser heats up the hair follicle and bulb, damaging them and eventually causing the hair to die and fall out. In most cases, hair in the targeted area doesn’t grow back.
Laser hair removal works well on facial hair (such as the upper lip), the underarms, the bikini line, legs, arms, the back and the chest, and is suitable for both men and women.
It’s great for thicker, darker hair, but not for those with light hair, such as blonde, grey, white or red - or for people with fine hair. Likewise, those with darker skin tones may not be candidates for laser hair removal. So, make sure you have a consultation beforehand to make sure it’s the right sort of treatment for you.
Is laser hair removal permanent?
So, now you know how it works, I’m sure the next question on your lips is “Do the effects of laser hair removal last?”. The bad news is that it’s not a one-treatment-solves-all kinda solution. To get permanent results, it’s necessary to have several sessions - on average, 6-12 to get the best possible results, and practitioners generally suggest one every 4-6 weeks. And it takes about 2-3 weeks before you’ll start to notice a difference.
But the good news is that at the end of these sessions, most people experience permanent hair removal.
Yes, that’s right - no more nicking your skin while shaving those awkward areas (I’m talking to you, stupid behind the knee spot!), no more bikini waxes before holidays, no ingrown hairs, and no more buying countless razors, creams and gimmicky home treatments. Brilliant!
Does laser hair removal hurt?
The best way to describe the sensation caused by laser hair treatment is like an elastic band pinging your skin - a bit uncomfortable, but bearable. Sessions are fairly quick, lasting just 20 minutes, depending on the area you’re targeting. So, all in all, it’s not too bad.
Is laser hair removal safe?
If done by a medically qualified practitioner, laser hair treatment is safe and effective. Don’t be sucked in by cheap offers. While cheaper prices are tempting, the treatments being offered are not always performed by trained or qualified practitioners. A medically qualified practitioner will always make sure they assess your skin and hair type to see if the treatment will work for you, and will use only the safest equipment.
Laser hair removal dos and don’ts
There are a few dos and don’ts you should be aware of before your treatment. Let’s break it down...
- Shave the area the day/night before to make sure it’s hair free.
- Avoid spending time in the sun.
- Avoid fake tan and make-up around the area being treated.
- Make sure you have a patch test at least 24 hours before your treatment.
- Wax, pluck, sugar, epilate, thread or use hair removal cream as this will remove the hair from the root (which we want to avoid) in the days leading up to the treatment.
- Use glycolic acid, retinol, salicylic acid and scrubs for about a week before and after the treatment.
- Go to the gym for up to 24 hours after the treatment (oh, what a shame!).
- Have a hot shower for 24 hours after the treatment.
And it’s as easy as that. Hair today, gone tomorrow - well not quite so quickly, but near enough. For more in depth information on laser hair treatment, take a look at our laser hair removal treatment guide.