How Do I Prepare for Laser Hair Removal?
Tired of waxing your bikini line? Sick of shaving your legs? Fed-up with plucking and tweezing every single hair follicle from the sensitive skin on your upper lip?
If you're ready to eliminate waxing, shaving, and tweezing, along with all of your ingrown hair and razor burn frustrations from your maintenance routine once and for all, it's a good idea to consider laser hair removal as a permanent hair removal method.
This increasingly popular procedure is not like walking into a salon and getting your hair trimmed or eyebrows threaded. In fact, there are several steps that you need to take prior to ever having your first session.
Not sure how to prepare for a laser hair removal appointment? No worries, we can help!
In this article, we will discuss everything there is to know about one of the most efficient ways to get rid of unwanted body hair and how to prepare. Let's dive in, shall we?
What is Laser Hair Removal?
Unlike other popular methods of hair removal like shaving, tweezing, or waxing, laser hair removal is a specialized treatment that helps to permanently remove unwanted hair. Plus, if the right lasers, settings, and precautions are utilized, laser hair removal also involves less injury to the skin - whereas other traditional methods will only strip hair temporarily and can cause repeated stress to the area, which is no good!
To understand how laser hair removal works, it is first important to understand how hair grows.
Every single hair on your body has three phases: Anagen (active phase), Catagen (short transitional phase between the Anagen and Telogen) and Telogen (resting phase preparing to reset back into the Anagen stage). All three phases occur simultaneously.
Each hair follicle on your body is independent and goes through the growth cycle not only at different speeds but also at different times.
At any given time, roughly 85% to 90% of your hair is in the Anagen phase, 1-2% is in the Catagen phase, and 10-14% is in the Telogen phase.
As we mentioned, the Anagen phase is the active growth phase, and happens to be the only phase where laser hair removal proves to be effective. In fact, only 20 percent of hair is actively growing during one Anagen growth cycle, hence why multiple treatments are typically required for hair removal to be most effective for long term results!
How exactly does laser hair removal work?
Great question! Laser hair removal uses laser technology to target hair follicles - specifically honing in on the pigment melanin - which are about to enter or are already in the Anagen phase.
The reason why lasers target hair follicles in this stage specifically is because the hair is in contact with the root of the follicle, where hair growth starts. By targeting these hair follicles during the Anagen phase, it completely destroys the follicle, preventing the hair from ever growing back.
How do you prepare for treatment?
If you are thinking about laser hair removal, it's important to do your research and pick a doctor who's board-certified and has a specialty such as cosmetic surgery or dermatology, and also has experience with laser hair removal on your specific skin type (this is especially important if you have darker skin since skin color determines the risk for possible burns or hyperpigmentation). If a laser technician, licensed nurse, or physician assistant does the procedure, just be sure a doctor supervises them and is available on-site during the treatments.
Your skin is the largest organ in your body and has many functions that are critical to supporting your overall health. Be cautious, check reviews, and do your due diligence prior to picking a doctor to provide you with treatment.
Once you find a physician with experience that is trustworthy to handle your skin, schedule a consultation to determine if laser hair removal treatment is an appropriate procedure for you. Your doctor will likely do the following:
- Review your medical history, including any past history of skin disorders or scarring, medication use, and any past hair reduction/removal procedures.
- Discuss benefits, risks, side effects, and expectations, including what laser hair removal can and can't do for you specifically.
- Take photos to be used for before and after assessments and long-term reviews.
At the consultation, be sure to ask questions and discuss treatment plan and costs, so you know exactly what to expect. The physician will also provide specific instructions that are extremely important to follow in order to prepare for your laser hair removal treatment.
These instructions typically include:
- Avoiding sun exposure to the area that you are looking to get treated and staying away from UV tanning beds for at least two weeks prior to your procedure.
- Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above on a daily basis.
- Avoiding topical products that can cause photosensitivity - like salicylic acid, retinol, hydroxy acids, and benzoyl peroxide - for at least three days prior to treatment.
- Rescheduling any Botox injections, dermal filler injections, microdermabrasion, or chemical peels that fall within 14 days before your laser hair removal.
- Completely shaving the treatment area before your laser hair removal procedure. Legs should be shaved no sooner than 24 hours prior to your appointment to help avoid irritation, and no matter what, do not tweeze or wax between laser treatments. Since the laser targets the root of the hair, the root must actually be present for the treatment to be effective. In fact, shaving is the only form of hair removal that is recommended during the course of your laser hair removal treatments.
- Lastly, prior to coming in for treatment, make sure you are freshly bathed with completely clean skin free of creams, lotions, oils, or fragrances of any kind.
What should you expect during your laser hair removal procedure?
While receiving treatment, you'll be required to wear protective eyewear. You may still be able to see a flash of light from the laser, but your eyes will be completely covered. The doctor or laser technician performing your treatment will also be wearing protective eyewear. During the treatment, all areas of your body that will not be lasered will be covered with clothing. Only the areas that you want treated for unwanted hair will be exposed.
Does it hurt?
Everyone is unique and has different pain levels. For some, getting treatment feels like a warm pinprick to the skin. For others, it was worse than getting a tattoo. If you typically have a low tolerance for pain, follow these tips to make your treatment a little more comfortable!
- Take an OTC pain reliever like Motrin or Advil approximately 30 minutes before your treatment.
- Avoid any alcoholic beverages within 24 hours before treatment.
- Avoid taking antibiotics because they tend to make you photosensitive, meaning they may make your skin sensitive to light and may lead to the laser treatment burning your skin.
- Avoid sun exposure right before treatment.
- Remember to breathe. Focus on inhaling and exhaling, and before you know it, your treatment will be done!
After your laser hair removal treatment
Don't fret if redness and swelling occur in the treated area - this is perfectly normal and will go away after a few days. The treated area may feel as if it got sunburned or razor burned. Simply use ice, over-the-counter hydrocortisone, or even aloe to help alleviate any redness and irritation you may experience.
Hair in the treated area will slowly begin to shed, typically over the course of two weeks following the procedure. Patchiness of hair growth is common and will dissipate towards the completion of your laser hair removal treatment series.
Improper post-treatment care, including excessive sun or heat exposure, may increase the chance of pigmentation changes, scarring, and even changes to your skin's texture. It is critical that you avoid excessive heat - stay away from saunas, hot tubs, or even working out within 24 hours of receiving treatment.
A Final Word
Laser hair removal may take a few months and a few sessions to completely stunt unwanted hair growth, but once you've completed your final treatment, you will be able to experience life without ever having to deal with the many frustrations that are associated with waxing, shaving, and tweezing. Throw your razors and wax strips in the trash because you simply won't need them!
Life without unwanted body hair means no more skin irritation, no more razor burns, no more painful ingrown hairs, and no excuse to not show off your beautiful silky, hair-free skin. Laser hair removal treatment is an exceptional way to kick unwanted hair to the curb, but if you'd prefer not to go under the laser, there is an alternative - The KENZZI IPL Hair Removal Handset!
KENZZI is an incredible company with a true passion for safe and efficient hair removal. That is why they used modern technology to create a hand-held Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) device that aims to remove unwanted hair, slowing the aging process by reducing wrinkles, and perfecting skin tone by treating blemishes.
Getting rid of unwanted hair has never been easier! Whether you decide to undergo the laser hair removal treatment series or give The KENZZI IPL Hair Removal Handset a whirl, we are excited for you to experience the joys of having deliciously soft, silky smooth skin - without the hair!