After you’ve spent some time working in the beauty industry, you would be surprised by what you are willing to try on yourself. Sometimes people look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them I’ve done laser hair removal on myself. It’s actually easier to do on yourself than waxing! I rarely have to shave anymore, but once in a while I will look down and be startled by a few long hairs here and there on my legs. So then I will shave, and I kid you not, almost every time I nick myself and give myself razor burn!
What is laser hair removal? It is a method of hair removal utilizing laser technology, such as diode laser or intense pulse light, that targets the melanin in the hair bulb and destroys it. This technology continues to improve and is a terrific way to cause a permanent reduction in hair growth. No, you are not likely to become 100% hair-free in 3 sessions! But most people see a significant reduction over the course of 5-12 treatments.
This is a process that takes some patience, and, in some cases, a lack of weenie-ness, or some good breathing techniques. It smarts a bit, but it’s really not that bad. Remember, I can do it on myself and cause myself much less pain than self-waxing. Sometimes people have a difficult time understanding why this “laser” procedure requires more than one treatment. They “felt” the energy going into their skin, they smelled the singeing of hair, so what is the problem?!! “Are you sure you are doing it right?!!” Yes, I am sure. 😉
Just as our skin cells do not all shed at once, like a snake, our hair is at different stages of growth at any given time. If our hairs were all in the same growth phase at the same time, we would become completely bald every time we shed! The laser targets the melanin, or color in the hair bulb, and the hair must be actively growing with the bulb still attached to a blood supply for the laser to destroy it. So… since the hairs are all in different stages of growth during each treatment, the hairs that are being treated today are not the same ones that we got last time.
It may take a year or more of treatments at 4-6 week intervals to achieve an optimal level of hair reduction, this is because all the different hair bulbs take turns at active growth over the course of 6 to 18 months. Having your treatments done at 4-6 week intervals will help ensure that a different set of hair bulbs are active each time, and you will be able to achieve a greater amount of clearance. If you only received one laser hair removal treatment, for example, there is a permanent reduction that happened, but it won’t be enough for you to notice over time.
Because health and hormonal changes affect hair growth, or trigger fine peach fuzz to become terminal hairs with more color and coarseness, it is not uncommon to require periodic touch-ups. If you’ve been through a series of laser hair removal with good results, this may simply mean that you go in for a touch up once every 1-5 years. Most people will not need another series of treatments.
With most laser treatments you will want to avoid having any kind of tan at the time of your appointment, and this is true of laser hair removal also. I recommend no sun exposure that creates a tan or burn for 4 weeks prior to a laser hair removal appointment, and no sun exposure for 2 weeks following. Self-tanner and sunscreen will be your best friend. Even with self-tanner, though, you will want to discontinue using it in the 2 weeks prior to your appointment. Any kind of tan being present will compete with the melanin in the hair bulb for the laser’s attention. This will create more energy being absorbed by the skin rather than just by the hair bulb, which makes it more likely for a burn to occur. Laser hair removal over a tan also makes it more likely that you will develop hyper or hypopigmentation – dark spots or areas of depigmentation – white spots.
I have had good success with laser hair removal on myself and on most of the patients I have treated. I recommend that people do their research and go to a reputable clinic instead of just looking for the best deal. When being treated with a laser, you want to make sure you are in good hands and that your technician holds your safety as their number one priority. The quality of the machine matters, as well. The machine that I have liked using the most is Lumenis Light Sheer Duet. It has 2 different hand pieces, a smaller one for areas like the upper lip, and a larger one that enables the technician to do a broader area like legs or the back in a fraction of the time.
Have you had laser hair removal? If so, what was your experience?