How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
"I love razor burn!" said no one ever. People all around the world dream of having beautiful, hair-free skin, but the truth is, achieving such a feat tends to come with razor burn, painful ingrown hairs, and angry, irritated skin - ouch!
Face and body hair has to be without a doubt one of the most annoying pairs of things to deal with - no matter how many times you get rid of it, it just keeps coming back. Now, if you're someone that is into body hair, that's totally cool, and you should embrace it, but if you're a fan of that oh-so-smooth and silky skin that comes from having no face or body hair, then laser hair removal might be right up your alley!
Not sure what laser hair removal is or how it works? Keep reading to find out!
What is Laser Hair Removal?
Did you know that laser hair removal treatment has been around since the '60s? This increasingly popular hair reduction trend may seem new, but it has actually been around for quite some time now, helping both men and women all around the world to achieve perfect skin, without the hair. So, what exactly is it?
The laser hair removal procedure involves a non directional/focused light wave over a larger area and shallower than laser hair follicle to slow or stop unwanted hair growth. This powerful laser is so accurate that it only destroys the hair growth you wish to stop. The most common treatment area for laser hair removal includes the face, legs, chest, underarms, bikini line, and back. However, this popular technique can also be used on nearly any body part with unwanted hair.
How does it work?
First, it's important to understand the way hair growth works in order to appreciate the entire laser hair removal process.
Hair growth occurs in growth cycles, but not every hair follicle is on the same page, and oftentimes go through growth cycles at different speeds. More importantly, not every hair is in the same growth phase at the same time, which is an important concept to keep in mind!
Lasers emit a wavelength of light with a specific single color. When targeted to the skin, the energy that emits from the light is transferred to the skin and hair pigment melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives human skin, eyes, and hair their color, and is in high density at the base of each hair follicle, which absorbs the light and converts it into heat.
The laser technology targets these hair follicles, which are about to enter or are already in the active phase of hair growth, known as the Anagen phase. The reason why lasers target hair follicles in this stage is because the hair is in contact with the bottom of the follicle, where hair growth starts. By effectively targeting the hair follicles during the Anagen phase, it completely destroys the follicle itself, preventing the hair from growing back.
Permanent hair removal lasers usually operate between 700 to 1400 nanometers depending on which type of laser is being used. When looking into laser hair removal, it is important to keep in mind that not all lasers are created equal.
There are three different kinds that you should be familiar with: diode, alexandrite, and Nd:YAG.
The diode laser is commonly referred to as the "Mercedes Benz" of all lasers. It has a pneumatic head on the device which sucks up the skin and the hair follicle to target the hair more efficiently.
The alexandrite laser is a good choice for those with darker skin tones. If you have darker skin, you run the risk of getting post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation - we will touch more on this later! This laser is safer because it provides the heat needed to disable the follicle, but since it comes across through an alexandrite crystal, the wavelength beam of light is less likely to cause hyperpigmentation after completing your treatment.
The Nd:YAG laser doesn't generate as much heat as the other two, so it's a good option to remove hair in a small area of the body like the upper lip and chin. However, because it is not as strong, it takes much longer to achieve results, and hair loss is not always permanent.
Can anyone have laser hair removal treatment?
Since the laser is targeting pigment, treatment is best used in those with coarse, dark hair and lighter skin. The problem with using laser hair removal for those with a darker complexion is that the pigment melanin in the upper layers of their skin will also absorb some of the laser's light and heat, which tends to create a burn. For some, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can occur, which can leave flat spots of discoloration as a result of the treatment.
The best candidates that are ideal for laser hair removal will have:
- Coarse, dark hair
- Fair to light skin
The candidates that will have the most trouble with laser hair removal will have:
- Red hair
- Blonde or strawberry blonde hair
- White or gray hair
- Fine or thin hair
Are you fair-haired and want to get rid of some unwanted body hair? Never fear. There's hope for everyone! The first step, of course, is to simply make an appointment for an evaluation to determine if the laser hair removal process can be effective for you. All candidates for treatment - especially those with lighter hair color - are asked not to use any self-tanning products, and to wait for a tan to fade prior to starting the process. This will help to increase the contrast between skin color and hair color, which will greatly improve the laser's ability to precisely target and zap hair follicles. Sunscreen is definitely an ally for this (and is a staple of proper skin care in the first place)!
How many laser sessions are typically needed?
Depending on the hair type of the area you're are looking to get treated, it can take anywhere from 5 to 10 sessions for complete hair removal.
If you are looking to get areas of coarse dark hair treated, like the lower legs, bikini line/bikini area, and underarms, fewer sessions are generally needed. If you are looking to get treatment in places with thin hair like your upper lip and chin, more sessions will typically be needed.
Once you complete your laser hair removal treatment, you may notice that some of the treated hair will never grow back, while some may still need intermittent treatment every year or so. Any hair that regrows will likely be much finer and should grow at a slower rate than the original hair, but may still need occasional treatment for complete clearance.
How often should you have laser removal treatment?
It is recommended to have treatments done at one-month intervals. If your hair is growing pretty quickly, you may need to do treatments more often, even every 2-3 weeks to start, and then casually decreasing to 4-6 week intervals to match the slowed hair growth cycles.
If your hair grows back before getting to your next laser appointment, shaving is perfectly fine. Plucking, tweezing, and waxing, however, should be avoided--no hair removal method can properly work if there's no hair to remove!
How should you prepare for laser hair removal treatment?
- Prior to your appointment, make sure you are freshly showered with completely clean skin free of oils, lotions, creams, or fragrances.
- Shave the treated area completely the night before your appointment. Do not wax or tweeze. Shaving is the only recommended form of hair removal during the course of your treatments.
- Avoid any sun exposure to the treated area and stay clear of tanning beds for at least two weeks prior to your appointment.
- Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above on a daily basis - rain or shine!
- Stay away from any topical products or antibiotics that may cause photosensitivity, like salicylic acid, hydroxy acids, retinol, and benzoyl peroxide, for three days before treatment.
- Do not have dermal filler injections, Botox injections, chemical peels, or microdermabrasion in the treatment area for at least 14 days before your laser hair removal appointment.
If you have ever dreamed about having deliciously smooth skin without a hair in sight, laser hair removal can help! Look for a reputable dermatologist to be sure you are getting the best laser treatment for your specific skin type. Or, if you prefer, skip the appointment altogether and try the KENZZI IPL Hair Removal Handset that uses modern technology to remove unwanted hair - all from the comfort of your own home!
KENZZI is an incredible company with a true passion for safe and effective hair removal. They use Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) to slow the aging process by reducing wrinkles and perfect the skin tone by treating blemishes, all while helping to stop the growth of body hair!
Stop wishing for perfect skin and give the The KENZZI IPL Hair Removal Handset a go to make that wish a reality!