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The 411 on laser hair removal

Have you been tweezing, waxing, or spending exorbitant amounts of money on razors and fancy shaving creams only to be dissatisfied with the results? Dry, nicked skin? Tired of razor burn? Are you simply over the pain and time-consuming ephermeral methods? Do you value your time and money? If you answered yes to most of these questions, thankfully laser hair removal is a safe, fairly painless and 85%-90% permanent solution.

Not only does laser hair removal permanently remove unwanted hair from virtually any area of the body, but it can also help eliminate ingrown hair, which has been known to also cause hyperpigmentation. Laser energy targets melanin, so the hair being removed must be dark in color for the best results. Blonde, red, and gray hair are harder to treat. However, rest assured, there are different lasers specifically used for different skin types, skin colors, and hair textures. Furthermore, according to Mayo Clinic, treatment options for lighter hair continue to be developed.

A few reminders when considering laser hair removal:

  • Shave the area within 24 hours prior to treatment.
    • Do not tweeze, wax or pluck the area – only shave.
  • The treatment area needs to be free from makeup, lotion, deodorant and sunscreen.
    • Let the practitioner know beforehand if you require wipes.
  • The area cannot be treated if exposed to the sun within 4 weeks prior to treatment.
  • Fake tanning products should not be used 3-4 weeks prior to treatment, including salon spray tans.
  • The area should be thoroughly exfoliated prior to treatment to remove all residues.
    • Avoid harsh exfoliatants immediately after treatment.
  • Avoid blood-thinning medications.
  • Don’t go to the gym or do any heavy physical activity that will cause sweat for twenty-four hours following treatment.
    • This includes hot showers and sun exposure.

During the treatment, you and the practitioner will wear special goggles that protect you from the laser beam. A cool burst of air helps counteract the laser’s heat, making it more comfortable for the patient while simultaneously soothing the skin. Depending on the area of the body that is being targeted, most sessions don’t last too long. Legs, for example, will naturally take longer than underarms. The most commonly treated areas are the back, legs, arms, bikini area, underarms, lip and unibrow, the area of hair growth between the eyebrows. One thing to keep in mind about treating areas on the face is the possibility of the laser causing pigmentation. If retinol is part of your skin care routine, it is advised, like tanning products, to forego these 3-4 weeks prior to the treatment. After treatment, redness, irritation, and inflammation are all normal reactions and should clear up after a day or two.

While considering laser hair removal does require patience, after 3-8 sessions on most areas of the body, a patient will begin noticing little to no hair growth. Each session will be scheduled 4-6 weeks apart and touch-up sessions will most likely be required to maintain. After the first couple of weeks of treatment, one should notice the hair beginning to fall out. This is called shedding and it’s a sign that the treatment is working. During this time, it’s a good idea to gently exfoliate the area. This will speed up the process. After 4-6 weeks, one might notice smaller, finer hairs growing. Again, this is perfectly normal. Significant results most likely won’t be noticed until after the second or third treatment.

Laser hair removal not only saves you time and money, it’s low maintenance. Just imagine all of the monthly appointments, errands to the store, and extra minutes in the shower that can now be replaced with more enjoyable activities. Eventually, you can say bye to your disposables and say hello to smooth, hairless skin.

Image by Selina Toonen from Pixabay 

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