Laser hair removal is a cosmetic procedure that is all about timing. Missing a session or not sticking to your schedule can affect your laser hair removal results. This is because there are a few things to take into account when booking a session and starting your treatment. Below are the five main things that can have an impact on your laser hair removal results.
Your hair growth cycle
The hair growth cycle plays a big part in the efficiency of laser hair removal. Simply because the treatment only works on hair that is in the anagen phase of growth. Indeed, it is the only time when both the hair and follicle connect, allowing the light energy to travel from the former to the later.
Unfortunately, only 20% of all body hair is in the anagen phase of growth at any point in time. The remaining 80% of hair is in one of the other three stages: catagen, telogen, exogen. Thus, one session can only treat up to 20% of the anagen hair. That is why treatments always include at least six sessions and why you must wait six weeks between sessions.
Indeed, those six weeks give time to the hair to move from the exogen to the anagen phase so they can be targeted by the laser. The thing with the hair growth cycle is that not only is it unique to each individual but also to each hair. There is thus no way to know how much time each hair will need before it is in the right phase of growth.
Nor is there a way to know how long each hair will stay in each phase or if every single hair follicle is currently producing hair. Because the hair growth cycle is difficult to track, it can be difficult to treat 100% of hair in those six sessions. It is possible that even after your initial treatment, some follicle air suddenly produces hair simply because the hair they produced was not in the right stage of growth all this time.
The best way to get good results regardless of your hair growth cycle is to keep a tight schedule. Make sure you come in for a session every six weeks and that you follow pre and post-session care recommendations very strictly. You may not have control over how quick your hair grows, but you have control over helping to make your treatment smoother.
Your hormone levels
Hormones can have an impact on your laser hair removal results simply because hair growth is triggered by hormones. This means that should you have higher hormone levels, your hair growth will be faster and you may not see results straight away.
For example, excess male hormones such as testosterone will stimulate hair growth. Thus, women or men receiving hormone replacement therapy at the time of hair removal may see the decrease of hair after treatment but will have more regrowth than someone who is not receiving hormone therapy. This can also be the case for some with other hormone imbalances.
Even though hormone imbalances may interfere with the treatment, it won’t have drastic impacts. Patients will still be able to see a clear difference before and after their treatment. Thus, laser hair removal remains a great solution for transgender people, especially when transitioning from male to female.
Although the impact of laser hair removal results will be much smaller, taking hormonal contraceptives may also have an impact on the treatment. While pregnant women should not undergo laser hair removal, should they have done the treatments before pregnancy, they may see hair growth in places that were treated or that did not have hair.
Your skin tone and hair color
Laser hair removal works best on people with light skin and dark hair. This is because the hair to skin contrast is so sharp, the laser will not have any issue spotting the hair against the skin. However, that does not mean that laser hair removal only works on people with fair skin and dark hain. Indeed, laser hair removal works on all skin tones and hair color.
However, treating dark hair on dark skin or fair hair on light skin may be trickier and take longer. Indeed, the lower the hair to skin contrast, the more difficult it is for the laser to find the hair and send the light energy through the dermis to the follicle. Laser technology improvement such as ND: YAG lasers and diode lasers allow for safe and effective treatment of people of color.
With such machines, the energy gets to the hair follicle without relying too much on melanin to do so. They provide a good solution for people of color. However, in essence, their hair remains harder to target and thus, laser treatments may require more sessions. Treating fair hair is also trickier. Here, the issue is the lack of pigments.
Indeed, blonde and ginger hair are very low in pigments. Thus, they are very difficult to target and to treat. However, a diode laser with a 755nm wavelength will allow to safely treat fair hair. However, because they are harder to target, it is likely that patients will need additional sessions to ensure every single hair follicle is permanently damaged and unable to produce new hair.
Your hair removal history
Laser hair removal is a long-term hair growth reduction method. It will reduce hair growth by up to 90%. While it does not classify as a permanent hair removal method, a lot of patients will experience permanent hair removal. Electrolysis is the only permanent method. Even though no other methods will lead to similar results, some may help.
Of course, if you have shaved or used depilatory creams your whole life, you will have not started the hair growth reduction process. Indeed, both methods do not contribute to hair growth reduction. Creams dissolve the hair, shaving cuts it flat at the surface of the skin. Root and follicle remain. If only they may stimulate hair growth.
Waxing, plucking and sugaring on the other hand will contribute to hair growth reduction but in the very long-term. Repetitive waxing will end up damaging the hair follicle. Eventually, patients will see a decrease in hair growth. However, this will take a very long time.
Patients who have been waxing for years and switch to laser hair removal may see faster results. As mentioned above, this is because repetitive waxing will eventually damage hair follicles enough so that they won’t produce any new hair.
Other important factors
There are other factors that will affect your laser hair removal results. Most of them are related to daily habits, lifestyle and aftercare recommendations. Of course, the stricter your schedule and the better you abide by the rules, the better your results will be.
Artificial tanning, which include sunbathing, tanning beds and tanning creams, will all interfere with laser hair removal. Indeed, tanning puts the skin in an excited state. Thus, patients should stop tanning ten days prior to their session and avoid sun exposure for at least 15 days after. If they cannot avoid direct sunlight, i.e. if you have a laser treatment on your face, you will have to apply a physical sunblock with SPF 30 at least.
Tanning just before your laser hair removal session may be dangerous and you may have to reschedule, which will change your schedule and interfere with the whole treatment. Should you be taking medication such as antibiotics you will need to wait at least 10 after you end your treatment and before you can come in for a session. Indeed, such medication increases photosensitivity.
Accutane on the other hand is completely incompatible with laser hair removal. Indeed, it will increase the risks of scarring. Thus, patients should wait at least 6 months after they stop their Accutane treatment and before they start laser hair removal.
Not respecting pre and post-session care recommendations can affect your laser hair removal results. Indeed, it may either force you to change your schedule or even to stop your treatment altogether for a few weeks or even months. You may not have control over some factors, but you will over others. That is why it is so important to stick to your schedule, respect care recommendations and protect your skin.