Laser hair removal is a cosmetic procedure that reduces hair growth by up to 95%. The success of the treatment will depend on several factors. Some, you cannot control as they relate to genetics, hair color or skin tone.
However, some other factors such as good preparation, you can control. The results of laser hair removal will vary from one person to another. Some patients will see results after only a session. Others will need three to four sessions to experience significant hair growth reduction.
Some patients may also need eight sessions to achieve their desired results. Other will need more. The results of laser hair removal has to be considered on a case per case basis. However, there are indeed a few things you can do to promote better results.
Before the appointment
Do not wax or puck
The one thing laser hair removal needs more than anything is a hair to target. A hair that is attached to the follicle. Indeed, the laser targets the hair. However, damaging the hair follicle is the only way to effectively reduce hair growth.
Waxing does one thing. It removes the hair along with the root. Thus, there is nothing left in the hair follicle to target. Therefore, the energy produced by the laser would not be able to reach its destination.
Indeed, here, the hair acts as a conduit for the energy. The same happens with plucking or sugaring. The hair is removed along the root. While waxing results vary, it can take up to six weeks for a new hair to be produced and grow.
Thus, if you usually wax but wishes to switch to laser hair removal, you should wait at least six weeks before booking a laser session. That way, the procedure will be more efficient and treat more hair at once.
Avoid direct sunlight
Laser hair removal works on all skin complexions and hair color. It is as safe on darker skin tones as it is on light skin. New laser technology ensures good results and safe procedures. However, there is a difference between naturally pigmented skin and tanned skin.
Naturally pigmented skin is stable and still. On the other hand, tanned skin is not. Indeed, tanning, whether artificial or from the sun, puts the skin in an excited state. This can interfere with the safety of the procedure as well as results.
This is why we always advise patients to avoid direct sunlight for at least ten days before their laser session. If you were in the sun and got a tan or a sunburn, you will need to wait that the skin stabilizes and recovers.
Of course, this does not apply to all treatment areas. Indeed, if you are undergoing a laser treatment for the bikini or underarms, it is unlikely that it would have been exposed to the sun. Regardless, you should always protect your skin by applying a physical sunblock with a strong SPF.
Shave the night before
To improve laser hair removal results, you need to shave the night before your session. This may sound counterintuitive after we said that you should not wax or pluck your hair. You should not use depilatory cream either.
It is important that you shave before your laser session. We recommend that you do so at least three hours before the time of your appointment. This is so that the skin has the time to recover before the treatment. Indeed, shaving is quite aggressive to the skin and leaves it more sensitive.
The reason why you must shave prior to your session is simple. It makes the treatment safer and more efficient. Laser hair removal sends light energy to the follicle through the hair. However, if the hair is long, the energy needs more time to reach its destination.
It is also possible that some energy gets lost along the way. Thus, less energy makes it to the follicle and the follicle is not as damaged as it should be. Plus, long hair sits against the skin. Long hair increases the chances that the laser burns the skin.
During the appointment
Each patient will experience their laser hair removal sessions differently. Achieving permanent hair reduction varies from one person to another. Indeed, different skin tones and hair colors will require different laser settings.
Laser hair removal is not meant to be painful. At least not as much as waxing. It may not necessarily be pleasant but it is still tolerable. This will however depend on your own tolerance to pain.
Different types of hair may need different laser settings. The stronger the laser intensity, the more painful it may be.
Laser hair removal feels like pinching. That pinching occurs when the energy reaches the follicle. It is akin to a rubber band snapping at the skin very fast. You will also feel heat.
If you feel the laser it too hot, you should tell your technician. Similarly, if you feel the pinching is too strong, say so. It can happen that the heat is not high enough or the pinching not strong enough. This means that the laser settings must be changed to adjust to your hair.
Therefore, make sure you communicate in real time with your technician. Only then will they be able to adjust the settings of the laser so maximize results. It will also help with reducing the chances of side effects.
After the appointment
Wait before you shave
When it comes to laser hair removal, a lot of patients expect to see immediate results. However, this is not how laser treatments work. You may see results after one session. Yet, you will not be able to see those result the minute after your session.
Indeed, now that the hair follicle is damaged, it can no longer hold the hair. The latter will shed and fall. This process can take up to ten days. Only then will you see a difference.
However, in the meantime, you should avoid shaving. For ten days at least. Or until the hair is shedding. You must make sure that you do not damage your skin.
Especially as after a session, the skin is more sensitive. While shaving will not impact your results, it can leave your skin more sensitive.
Do not work out
Laser hair removal has no real downtime. You may get back to your daily life straight after your session. With a few exception. You must avoid working out for at least twenty-four hours after your treatment.
It is also advised to avoid any other sweat inducing activities like saunas. The skin is more sensitive after a treatment. It is also more vulnerable.
Sweat and working out are heaven for bacteria. Thus, it could lead to a skin infection.
Especially as workout outfits usually are very tight and keep the heat in. Plus, you may experience chaffing, which will lead to even more sensitive skin. When it comes to hot shower, the heat of the water combined with the heat of the laser may lead to burns.
Avoid sun exposure
While you should not leave your skin unprotected before a session, you should not after a session either. During a laser hair removal session, the skin is bombarded with energy. Of course, it is much more sensitive and vulnerable afterwards.
Thus, it is also more likely to be damaged by UV rays and the sun. That is why you should avoid exposing the treated areas to the sun too much. Not only will it ensure your skin is not damaged. But this will also improve the results of laser hair removal.
Why? Simply because sun damaged skin cannot be treated. Thus, you would have to wait longer for your next session. Laser hair removal needs a strict schedule and timing. Spacing out sessions more may lead to a less effective treatment.
Do not wax or sugar
The effectiveness of permanent hair removal relies on several factors. A strict schedule is one of them. Each session should be six weeks apart. However, waxing or sugaring between sessions jeopardizes this.
Indeed, waxing removes both the hair and root. Thus, there won't be anything for the laser to target. As the hair may need up to six weeks to grow back, you would have to delay your next session by a few weeks.
In that time, your hair may move into a different stage of the hair growth cycle. Remember that laser hair removal only works on hair in the anagen phase of growth. Thus, the remaining hair would not be treatable.
If you really wish to remove hair while you wait for your next session, shave. It is the safest and will not interfere with your results. Do make sure you hydrates and moisturize your skin so that it recovers faster.