Laser Hair Removal Need To Knows
Although Laser Hair Removal has been around for many years, we are always learning and finding out new things.
Plus it’s always good to go back to basics and really understand what’s going on if you’re thinking of starting laser treatments. As a clinic owner and laser technician I get asked questions every day, these are the top 5:
How many session of Laser do I need?
The bare minimum for any area of Laser Hair Removal (that hasn’t been treated before) whether it’s Laser or IPL is 6 sessions. Anyone who tells you that you’ll get rid of your hair in 3 sessions is not being honest. Don’t be fooled into thinking that after 6 sessions you will have no hair at all left, as this is highly unlikely. What’s more likely is that you will reduce the hair in the area by around 70-80%. So many clients go on to have 1-3 more sessions. In general, the coarser and darker the hair, the better the result.
Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?
You can never say that your hair removal is totally permanent, forever. However it’s accurate to say that you will have permanently less hair. What I mean by that is that the laser will destroy a large amount of the cells that grow hairs. Plus it will destroy some of the follicles. Think of the follicle as the ‘house’ the hair lives in. For example if you have your underarms treated, you may be left with a few fine hairs, which you’ll struggle to even see.
Although you now have very few hairs left, there will still be follicles that are lying sleeping, which may then become ‘awake’ and start growing a new hair. This can happen because of various reasons such as hormone and weight changes. So over time you will probably see a few hairs popping up which have never been there before. It’s not that the laser hasn’t worked, just that your body is doing what it does.
So you will need to factor in that you’ll probably want top up laser sessions, depending on your body and the area. I often see people come back after 2-5 years, and have 1-3 sessions to get rid of the extra hairs that have grown on the body. Hair removal on the face is a bit trickier, and may take more sessions, or require more top up sessions. That’s because hormonal hair growth is a bigger factor on the face.
Is Laser hair removal painful?
This is another question I get asked a lot. The first and world leading ‘virtually pain free laser’ was the Soprano Laser. Since that emerged many other manufacturers have produced similar ‘less painful’ lasers and also IPL systems, which operate in this less painful mode just as well. The sensation is a warming feeling, which can also feel a little like prickles. (so not totally painless but really nothing to worry about.)
There is however a distinct difference between a ‘less painful’ system and a standard Laser or IPL. A standard laser is more painful particularly for the first 1-3 treatments when you have the most hair. It feels like a hot pin prick, or like ‘hot oil’ spitting at you when you fry an egg, and is unpleasant. After around 3 sessions, the difference between the 2 types of systems becomes less noticeable.
I must also add that if you have laser and feel nothing at all, this is a bad sign, and I can tell you with certainty that it will not be working. Overall laser is less painful that waxing, with the ‘reduced pain lasers’ feeling more comfortable than standard lasers.
If you are planning to have laser hair removal, you will have chance to feel the treatment without committing. Any laser clinic should offer you a test patch first, which may incur a small charge. So you don’t need to panic.
How does it actually work?
All Lasers and IPL systems get rid of your hair in the same way. The Laser or IPL produces light, which is flashed into the skin and hair. The hair absorbs the light and this causes a heating effect. That heat spreads to the neighbouring stem cells and destroys them. This means no more hair will grow out of that follicle, once the old one has fallen out.
The reason it doesn’t work in just 1 session is because the hair grows in phases. The process only works on a hair that’s in the first phase. If the hair is older and moving its way out of the follicle then the heat will not transfer to the cells. You may get a disruption of cells, so the hair becomes weaker and finer, but you need to repeat the treatment to fully destroy it.
This is why you need multiple treatments, to eventually catch all the hairs at the right time.
What areas can I have treated?
You can have virtually anywhere treated. If the laser can get to it, you can remove the hair. You will wear goggles to prevent damage to your eyes. However you can treat right up to where your goggles sit on your face. So this includes hairs to the side of your eye and upper cheek, and even between your eyebrows if the clinic has goggles which allow it. It’s very common for women to have laser hair removal on the top lip, chin, jawline, neck and sideburns. Men also have laser treatments on their face.
As for the body, you don’t need to be embarrassed! I commonly treat full bikini (known as a Hollywood), bottom, anus, naval, underarms, nipples, chest, legs, feet, fingers and toes, arms, shoulders etc. Both Men and Women have Laser on all areas of the body.
What else do I need to know?
- Laser or IPL will only work if your hair has enough colour. This means that blonde, grey, white or fair red hairs will not work. If your hair doesn’t have enough colour (melanin) then there won’t be enough of a heat reaction to destroy it. However your hair may be a different colour on a different part of your body which may work well.
- You don’t need to ‘grow’ you hair to have the treatment. You actually need to shave the hair before laser.
- You must not pluck the hair or wax it out in-between, otherwise you will be removing the chance for the laser to work on that hair.
- Lastly skin colour matters. It’s possible to treat all skin colours from light to the darkest skin but ONLY if the correct laser is used. If the wrong laser is used on a dark skin then this can cause severe burning.
I hope this article helps if your hair is getting you down. Laser is a great long term solution and hopefully now you understand more to make the decision easier.