Laser Hair Removal Guide
Whether you’re looking for hair removal or an intensive facial treatment, there is a laser for you! Laser has come such a long way since it jumped onto the scene. It has grown from experimental to a long list of different machines for all kinds of beauty needs. We’ll do a dive into the basics of the hair removal aspects, whether you’re currently doing it or have been thinking about it for awhile.
What is laser hair removal?
L.A.S.E.R or Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation is a more advanced form of semi permanent hair removal, using pulses of laser light to destroy the hair follicle to prevent hair from growing back. Laser was accidentally discovered in 1963 and more done experimentally, before being approved by the FDA and coming into commercial use in the late 90’s.
What are the different kinds of laser?
There are 5 different types of laser systems:
- Ruby: one of the first ever developments, but has since become obsolete due to the slowness of the machine. It does not work well on dark and coarse hair, but better on light, fine hair and light skin.
- Alexandrite: one of the popular types of systems. Works well for people with light skin tones and it said to hurt less, as the wavelengths are shorter so it doesn’t penetrate as deep.
- Diode: often compared against the Alexandrite, this laser system has longer wavelengths which penetrate deeper in the skin. Works well with coarse hair and medium dark skin tones.
- Nd:YAG: this system is heavy duty, with the longest wavelengths and can be a little bit uncomfortable for some. This is the best type for those with darker skin.
- IPL (intense pulsed light): sometimes classified under laser treatments, thought this system is not actually a laser. It tends to take far more sessions, as it doesn’t fully destroy the follicle and is used more for surface treatments.
Am I a good candidate for laser hair removal? Does it work for redheads? What about grey hairs?
Depending on the machine, I believe everyone is a good candidate for laser. Even redheads! As shown above, there are machines for all different hair types, so it’s an absolute must to do the research and ask questions to find the right one for you. With advancements in technology with laser machine’s, no matter your skin tone or hair colour you will be able to get a treatment. Unfortunately, due to lack of melanin content, laser machines aren’t able to get rid of grey hairs.
How quickly do you see results with laser?
Results will be different per person, and depending on your hair colour to your skin tone. Generally dark hair on light skin will see quick results, while light hair and skin will take a little longer. This is because the dark hairs on lighter skin are easier for the machine to find, while light hair makes the machine work just a little bit harder to find them. Usually you can start to see results within the 2-3 sessions, where the hair will be growing back much slower and even falling out.
Can I get a spray tan or tan after during laser?
Absolutely no tanning of any kind while getting laser. When getting treatments you need to have your skin at its natural tone. If it’s darker then it usually is, it can confuse the machine and result in you being burned. Starting your sessions in the winter will ensure you have completed your sessions and are hair free by summer. Then you can get back to your tanning!
Can I use numbing cream? Does it effect laser hair removal?
You definitely can if it’ll help ease your mind! It’s only recommended for smaller areas such as the upper lip, under arm and Brazilian area. Apply to the area at home at least 30-45 mins prior to your appointment. It won’t effect the outcome of the laser.
What age can I start laser hair removal?
You’ll find in most spas the age to start laser is 18, with parental consent.
Are there some cases when I can’t get laser done?
Like with any form of hair removal, there will always be contraindications (reasons you may not be able to get the service). This includes:
- Sun burn or recently tanned
- Keloids or raised scars
- Taking acne medications like Accutane
- Skin infections
- Pregnant or Breastfeeding
With pregnancy and breastfeeding, there have been no studies to show that it is safe to get it done will pregnant, therefore we advise against it until you have had your baby and are finished breast feeding. Always consult with your doctor if you are taking antibiotics to make sure it is safe to move forward.
Does laser effect tattoos?
Laser can have a pretty serious effect on tattoos, which is why you cannot laser over them. However, if you do have a tattoo in the area you’re treating, you are still able to get laser done. The tattoo will be fully covered, plus two finger widths away, with a laser sticker. The sticker helps to protect the tattoo from being hit with the wavelength, which can cause the tattoo to kind of burst. It is extremely painful and will ruin the tattoo. Keep in mind wherever the sticker is over, there will still be hair there as the machine can’t get to it.
How should I prepare for laser hair removal?
Unlike waxing where you want to grow out your hair, for laser you need to shave it all. Whichever area you are treating needs to be completely smooth and free of hair, your technician will not shave the whole area for you. There will be disposable razors for touch ups if you’ve missed a spot, but they can’t shave for you. It’s recommended to shave the night before, to avoid any chance of razor burn. If you do have any razor burn, you’ll want to move the appointment until it has calmed down as applying heat to an already warm area can be painful.
Will I be hair free forever?
In a sense, yes, but laser is more semi permanent than a permanent removal. You will have a significant reduction of hair, but you may still see a hair or two pop up every now and again. Factors like pregnancy hormones or any hormone changes can also trigger new hair growth, and awaken the dormant hair follicles.
Is laser hair removal safe?
Laser hair removal is safe, as long as it is used in experienced hands. Someone who is inexperienced using the machine can cause damage to the skin, causing blistering, scars and burns. Always check out the place you’re going to and that they are legit! The wavelengths of laser machines are within a safe spectrum, so it will not cause any internal damage or reactions.
Is there anything I need to do after my session?
Your skin will be sensitive while doing them, so wear SPF every day, even if it’s cloudy out. The area may also feel a bit tight, moisturize every day, exfoliate and follow all post session recommendations. Keep up to date with your appointments to achieve the results.