Laser hair removal is a great method for removing unwanted body and facial hair without the burns, nicks, and redness of shaving and waxing. Laser hair removal is technically known as a permanent hair reduction process, and although it’s not total hair removal, it does drastically decrease hair growth and the need for shaving. The process is safe for use on most parts of the body, including the legs, arms and armpits, bikini area, chest, back, and even the face (except for the eyes). Laser hair removal is expensive and it does require several follow-up treatments, but there are steps you can take before and after your treatment that will help maximize the benefits you gain from the process.
Getting Ready for Your Treatment
1. Make sure laser hair removal is right for you. Laser hair removal works by targeting and breaking down the melanin (the pigment that gives hair its color) in a hair follicle, which makes that hair fall out. The process, therefore, works best to remove coarse, dark hair. It won’t work as well—or may not work at all—to remove red, blond, gray, or white hair.
2. Go for a consultation. A consultation with a laser hair removal technician before your first treatment will allow the clinic to assess your health. They will also administer a patch test to determine whether you are a good candidate for the treatment, and which process will work best based on your skin and hair type.
3. Avoid tanning before your treatment. Once you are deemed a good candidate for laser hair removal, it’s important to avoid the sun and tanning beds in the six weeks leading up to your treatment.
4. Don’t remove hair by the roots. In the six weeks leading up to your treatment, avoid plucking, waxing, bleaching, and electrolysis treatments. Plucking or pulling hair out by the roots means there won’t be any hair for the laser to target.
5. Avoid caffeine 24 hours prior to your treatment. You want to be calm and relaxed before and during your laser treatment, but caffeine can make you more agitated and tense.
6. Shave the day before. When you go for your initial consultation, the technician will tell you exactly when to shave in preparation for your treatment, but most clinics recommend shaving one to two days beforehand.
7. Show up with clean skin. Before leaving for your treatment, shower and wash your skin with a gentle cleanser. You want to remove all makeup, dirt, and oil from your skin. Avoid moisturizing before your treatment.
Knowing What to Expect After
1. Avoid the sun. Just as you protected your skin from tanning in the six weeks prior to your laser hair treatment, so too should you avoid the sun for the six weeks following it. Not only will your skin be sensitive, but it can also complicate the removal process and follow-up treatments.
2. Expect your hair to fall out. Shortly after your treatment, the targeted hair will begin making its way out of the hair follicle, making it look like it’s growing again. But within 10 to 14 days, your hair will reach the shedding stage and begin to fall out, at which time you can gently remove it with a washcloth in the shower or bath.
3. Don’t pluck or wax. During the shedding stage, your hair needs to fall out naturally, so don’t pluck, tweeze, or wax the targeted area. If there is any resistance from a hair, it means the root is still alive, and that hair will have to be targeted again in a follow-up treatment.
4. Go for multiple treatments.