So, you’ve finally decided that enough is enough. After shaving, waxing, and tweezing for the entirety of your mature life, you’ve made the decision to book your first laser hair removal treatment to finally put an end to the razor bumps, wax burns, and ingrown hairs. Congratulations! You're about to embark on an exciting journey that will leave your skin feeling deliciously smooth and hair-free. No more stubble or peach fuzz. No more dull razors or costly wax appointments. Just flawless, silky smooth skin without a hair in sight.
Laser hair removal is an effective non-invasive cosmetic procedure that has been used for many decades to effectively eliminate unwanted hair. Whether you just booked your first appointment or are thinking about treatment, we’re sure you have some questions about this increasingly popular procedure. In this article, we'll cover some of the most common questions surrounding laser hair removal and go over what you can expect after treatment. So grab a cup of coffee and keep reading - let’s dive in!
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal treatments involve using laser light pulses to destroy hair follicles. It does this by targeting the pigment melanin in your hair follicle and damaging it enough to halt hair growth.
Although any area on the body with unwanted hair can be treated, the most common areas include the:
- Bikini line/Brazilian
Every single hair on your body has three phases of hair growth: anagen, catagen, and telogen. All three of these phases occur simultaneously. At any given time, 85% - 90% of your hair is in the anagen phase, 1-2% is in the catagen phase, and 10-14% is in the telogen phase.
Stage 1 - Anagen
The anagen phase is the beginning of the hair growth cycle. It’s when the hair grows more actively and is visible above the skin, yet still attached to the papilla. The papilla is “a knob-like vascular indentation of the bottom of the hair follicle on which the hair bulb fits.” For laser hair removal to work properly, your unwanted hair must be in this active anagen stage because the hair is still attached to the papilla. The laser light will target the latter, preventing any new hair from growing.
Stage 2 - Catagen
The second catagen phase happens between growth and rest and is not ideal for laser treatment. Why? Because in the catagen phase, hair begins to shed and disconnects with the papilla. Since the laser can’t reach the follicle once it separates, treatment will not be effective.
Stage 3 - Telogen
The final stage of hair growth is called the telogen phase, also known as the resting stage. Laser hair removal treatment can’t be done at this stage because the hair is neither growing nor developing. The hair is not attached to the papilla either, and the follicle is dormant. The telogen phase is a tricky one and can be quite unpredictable because it can last a few days, or it can last a few months. This is why many laser sessions are needed for permanent hair removal. If your unwanted hair happens to be in the telogen stage during treatment, it will grow back at the start of the anagen phase, requiring another session.
How do you prepare for treatment?
Great question! Laser hair removal works great to annihilate undesirable hair, but to maximize each treatment and to avoid any unwanted side effects, there are a few things you can do to prepare:
Stay out of the sun. A tan increases the risk of skin lightening and other unwanted side effects, so it’s important to stay out of the sun at least six weeks prior to treatment. If you have a tan, either from sunless tanning products or sun exposure, wait until the tan completely fades before scheduling your first laser session.
Avoid waxing, plucking, and electrolysis. These popular hair removal methods can disturb the hair follicle and interfere with your laser hair removal treatment. Shaving is acceptable because it preserves the hair shaft and follicle. Waxing, plucking, and electrolysis work by disconnecting the hair from the papilla, so if you get lasered following one of these hair removal methods, you can expect those pesky unwanted hairs to grow back.
Shave before treatment. Speaking of shaving… to avoid the laser singing the active hairs that sit above the surface of your skin, it’s a good idea to shave 24 hours before your appointment. As we mentioned, shaving preserves the hair shaft and follicle, so it’s perfectly safe to do in between sessions.
Check your skincare regimen. If you happen to be using certain anti-aging products on your skin, your laser technician might ask you to stop for a few days before and after your treatment. Some ingredients that may cause irritation include salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, benzoyl peroxide, and others. If you're advised to stop using these products, be sure to do so to avoid any painful side effects.
Cleanse your skin. On the day of your laser treatment, be sure to shower and cleanse the area of your skin you are looking to treat. Be sure to leave it free of cosmetics, creams, and lotions, which can have an adverse effect from the laser.
Wear appropriate clothing. Be sure to wear loose-fitting clothing that will leave the treated area exposed. The treated area may have a smoothing gel, or topical cream applied that you won’t want to get on your clothing. Tight or abrasive clothing may also feel uncomfortable, especially if your skin is sensitive after treatment.
What can you expect after treatment?
After treatment, it’s normal to experience a little redness and swelling in the treated area. This may persist for a couple of days, but can easily be fixed with a little Aloe vera, over-the-counter pain meds, and an ice pack.
Over the next two weeks, hair in the treated area will slowly shed. Patchiness of hair growth is totally normal and will dissipate towards the completion of your laser hair removal treatment series. Be sure to stay out of the sun and heat during this time to prevent the risk of pigmentation changes, skin texture changes, and scarring.
After four to six weeks, it'll be time to contact your laser specialist again to come in for your next session. Everyone is different, but most people see results following four to six laser treatments.
After your laser hair removal treatment, you can expect to see a reduction in hair growth almost immediately. However, for permanent hair removal, it’s important to keep up with your monthly laser sessions to effectively target hair as it goes through the growth cycle.
Don’t have time to get to the laser clinic each month? At-home hair removal devices like the KENZZI IPL Hair Removal Handset might be more up your alley. KENZZI offers the world’s #1 at home IPL device that safely removes unwanted hair in as little as three to four treatments. It comes with five different power settings to suit your skin tone or skin sensitivity while still producing effective results at any level. In addition, KENZZI offers a warranty with the purchase of each device and always has customer support available.
If you’re ready to live a life with silky-smooth, undeniably soft, hair-free skin without having to fuss with razors, wax strips, or tweezers, look no further because laser hair removal treatment can help!