Laser Hair Removal: Everything You Need to Know

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Facial and body hair has always been every adolescent girl’s problem. Those leg hairs and growing facial stubble (above the lips, yikes!) has brought down our self-esteem one way or another. As a result, most if not all of us started experimenting on every single hair removing treatment possible. Yet it always ended up taking very long or even hurting us with razor burns (ouch) or boiling wax (double ouch), leaving us hormone-filled gals with double the frustration. 

Growing up, we’ve all been exposed to the many skin removal options in the market, however, most of them don’t make your smooth skin last as long. But lo and behold, the beauty world has given us an option for a more permanent result — Laser Hair Removal, a process of hair removal that is caused by exposure to quick pulses of laser light that destroy the hair follicle and minimize growth in the long run. Yeah, that’s right, it targets the follicle directly, destroying the root of your frustration. 

laser hair removal women

Globally, it has become one of the most popular ways of banishing hair. 

Don’t fret though, those laser pulses aren’t dangerous at all. They’re safe and quite effective in removing hair than most hair removal options. (I’m looking at you, razor!)

So if you’re thinking of joining us to the bright, I mean, smooth side but are a bit hesitant, that’s okay because here’s what you’d want to know first:

1. There are various types

There isn’t just one type of laser hair treatment. It’s not a t-shirt that’s one-size-fits-all. It’s important you know which one will work well for your body. 

  • Ruby – is a method of hair removal that uses a synthetic ruby crystal to emit laser. Being one of the oldest hair removal treatments, it’s compatibility with skin types is quite limited. So this means that only people with pale/fair skin will benefit from this.
  • Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL) – is a type of light therapy that targets not only hair, but also other skin concerns such as wrinkles, sun damage, age spots, and birthmarks, to name a few. So technically speaking, it’s not a laser, yet it is enough to banish those pesky hairs. Because IPL is a light therapy instead of a laser treatment so it causes less trauma to the skin, which makes it perfect for our pale and/or fair-skinned sisters.
  • Alexandrite – also considered as a red light laser, is a type of laser that uses an alexandrite crystal to produce high energy light to target specific areas. It has a longer wavelength and increased repetition rate, which makes it better when targeting large areas in a short time. Alexandrite works well for our light to olive-skinned sisters, but ones with darker skin should be cautious and aware of its risk of causing patches because of the high melanin absorption.
  • Diode – one of the widely used hair removal treatments, Diode delivers a high frequency from a single wavelength. Some Diode machines incorporate crystal freeze cooling refrigeration contact cooling. What it means is that it protects the targeted surface of the skin, making it a comfortable and painless experience. Like Alexandrite, this works well for light to medium-dark skin tones. This type also has a high melanin absorption rate, so our dark-skinned sisters watch out. 
  • Nd:YAG – neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet is a crystal that emits high energy light wavelength, which makes it a long pulse laser. Because of that, it can reach deeper into the skin tissue. While it’s good for some skin types, it’s highly effective for people with darker skin. But this time, pale/fair-skinned women should avoid this one because of its strength.
  • It is safe.

2. It’s Safe

The word ‘laser’ can sound intimidating and dangerous. But that’s because of the different kinds of laser we’ve been familiar with (for construction, etc.). The laser in this situation is a direct light that’s hot and is engineered especially for cosmetic purposes. When a laser device is FDA registered and approved for use, it means that it has been properly tested for safety. However, to avoid the potential yet minor risks, a patch test and/or consultation must always be done before starting.

3. It can be costly, but better in the long run.

Laser hair removal treatments are considered one of the expensive methods of getting rid of hair. However, if you really think about it, it’s cheaper in the long run. 

Prices can vary depending on three factors: which treatment you decide to go for, the laser clinic you choose, and which body part needs some laser zapping. For an estimate, prices can range from $30 for small parts like the upper lip, to $200 for one leg. Most skin clinics offer packages for several sessions, cutting off a bit of the original price if paid per session.

4. It takes more than one session.

Generally, the “permanent” result from laser hair removal can take effect after 6-10 sessions, depending on the part you’re having it done. While one session can rid you of the hair, it will still come back as hair growth is still active. After several sessions, hair growth slows down as laser hair removals should typically be done during its active growth cycle. After that, touch up may still be needed once a year. Which brings us to:

5. It is permanent, kind of.

Although laser hair removal effectively delays hair growth for long periods, it is only permanent in the sense that hair grows really slowly after several sessions. Maintenance sessions come only once or twice a year. 

6. Slight discomfort will be felt.

Now, this isn’t a totally pain-free experience because, hello, it’s a laser. However, it’s not like they’re cutting your skin open. It can be slightly uncomfortable, more like a warm pinch or when rubber band hits your skin with that quick twang — many times. During the first session, they will use the least heat possible (although not too low because it can cause side effects) and as sessions come and go, technicians turn it up and you’ll get used to it. Trust us. Most clinics offer stress balls to keep your focus away from the laser. 

7. It can be done on most body parts.

You can get your hair removed anywhere hair grows. (Except for your eyelids of course, duh.) Most of the time, the technician will shave the area, but it’s best to ask beforehand. Skin clinics also offer packages depending on the size of body parts.

Small areas: Upper lip, sideburns, chin, nipples, abdominal line, eyebrows.

Medium areas: Underarms, bikini line, buttocks line, inner thighs.

Large areas:Lower legs, shoulders, lower back, arms.

8. They don’t take long.

Depending on the part you’re having hair zapped away, small parts like upper lips would only take up to 15 minutes. While it can take about 45 minutes maximum for legs.

9. Being on your period doesn’t matter (Unless it’s a Brazilian.)

Unless you’re getting a Brazilian or bikini hair removal, getting the ‘ol lady in red shouldn’t affect your laser hair removal treatment. Unlike the pain of getting skin waxed off with the hair, with laser, only hair follicles get affected. But if anything is to happen, extended redness or swelling may be experienced.

10. Age doesn’t matter.

There’s no minimum or maximum age required when you or your friends are thinking of going for this hair removal option. Our little girls (or boys) who have just started noticing their itty bitty hairs can start having laser hair removal. To be quite honest, hair growth only gets worse as time goes, so it’s best to think of options earlier, or better yet, start getting laser removal and just relax as an adult and not worry about it at all. 

11. For all genders

Okay so who said laser hair removal is only for girls?! Men have hair too, right? They can have it too, right? The answer is a big Y-E-S. It’s only that beauty standards have pushed women into removing hair on their body but men who have hair concerns can try it too. 

12. There are side effects and possible risks.

Because laser targets hair follicles, it results in redness and slight swelling, like other hair removal options like waxing or plucking. After the session, skin technicians apply an ointment right after, to reduce the effects and prevent it from itching. Other minor side effects may also include crusting, and changes in skin color.

One of the measures all skin technicians follow is covering the patient’s eyes with protective eye equipment, to provide as a barrier from the laser. However, when this is not done properly, it may risk eye injury, but it rarely happens. Some of the other rare side effects include but are not limited to, burns, blisters, and scars.

After a session, here’s what you need to do:

Avoid skin treatments a week prior, and a week after.

Before or during a consultation with your clinic, you’ll be asked of the skin products you use (if you’re having it done on your face) and they will say whether or not those will affect the treatment. If you use products such as Alpha Hydroxy and Beta Hydroxyl (AHA/BHA), Retinols/Retinoids, or whitening treatments like Hydroquinone, you should stop using it a week before the hair removal day, and a week after. Why? Because this will affect laser treatment and may cause side effects.  On that note, make-up is a big no no too.

You need to avoid the big S-U-N.

Sorry beach lovers, but this is a sacrifice you must make. After every session, you should, and we mean you really should, or must, or we require you to apply a good amount of sunscreen. Because laser burns the follicle, you have to let it heal for a couple of weeks. Direct contact with UV/B Rays from the sun, or even digital screens, to be honest, can affect your newly-lasered skin, risking hyperpigmentation or other skin problems. Don’t worry though because after some time, you can go out in the sun, but sunscreen is still a must.

Apply a topical anti-itch ointment or 100% Aloe Vera.

After a session, most skin technicians apply an anti-itch cream to soothe the skin after laser. When you get home, you must wash it gently and regularly apply it o your own. If you’re not sure about the one you’re using it’s best to ask your beloved skin technician first.

Avoid any harsh products.

Do not, I repeat, do not use physical exfoliants like scrubs, chemical peels, perfume, products with fragrance, exfoliating mitts, loofahs or sponges on the skin. Laser already caused trauma to the skin, you don’t want to aggravate it further and make it worse. 

Wear loose clothing.

Depending on where you had laser done, wear loose cotton clothing after. Or better yet, go to your session wearing loose clothing to avoid friction and so you don’t feel uncomfortable too.

Gently exfoliate

In the weeks prior to and after sessions, gently, and we say GENTLY, exfoliate the lasered skin with mild (M-I-L-D) exfoliants to help remove dead skin cells and make each sessions quicker and easier.

Here’s what not to do:

Do not touch the affected area. 

You don’t know where your hands went or what you touched. Keep those pesky germs away from the exposed skin and don’t touch it to avoid aggravating the tender skin.

You’re not allowed to sweat after.

Your skin technician will advise you not to go to the gym or do any activities for two days such as running, dancing, cycling, hot yoga, or even swimming — anything that will make you sweat. During every laser session, extreme heat is applied so your skin is tender and follicles where hair once was, are sensitive. Sweat contains bacteria and heating up your skin once more will make things worse. It’s important to keep skin cooled during the healing stage.

Do not take hot showers right after.

Don’t go straight to the shower right after a laser session. Wait for at least six hours before hopping on to a cold (not hot) shower. Use unscented products and avoid chemicals. 

Do not remove hair on your own.

During the weeks in between each session, do not wax, pluck or otherwise remove the hair by force in any way. Even when you’re tempted to do so. We repeat, DO NOT. This will affect the growth cycle of your hair. And it’s going to be like starting all laser treatments all over again.

The idea of cheap and quick hair removal has overjoyed teens during an age where parents kept the last say. But as laser hair removal gets cheaper and even more convenient and accessible, it is now a reasonable choice for young women and men to use laser hair removal as a solution.

With the rise of female-empowerment movements like #MeToo taking the world by storm, being satisfied living with or without body hair has been normalized. Regardless of what anyone says, according to specialists, wanting hair removal treatments should always come from the young ones, not the adults, even parents. 

Now that we’ve covered everything, it’s good to learn that laser hair removal can be a great investment — especially if you want to see results in the long term. If you’re going for the classic in-clinic treatment, attending sessions consistently is important if you want to make the most of the price. It may cost a little, but choosing the right type and package will offer great results. If you choose to buy your own epilator and do it yourself at home, then good for you! But remember, do extensive research. 

The most important thing is to keep an open mind. Despite it being quite effective, laser hair removals can cause minor side effects. But that shouldn’t stop you from becoming a happier (and smoother) person.

Okay, guys listen up (or err, read). You should love every part of who you are and we won’t judge you for your body hair. Wanting to conform to some beauty standards isn’t bad either. Whatever you want to do, just do you!