What to Know Before You Get Laser Hair Removal

Just how long does it take to get rid of unwanted hair?

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Ditching your razor and avoiding annoying stubble days after shaving sounds like a dream. That's where laser hair removal comes in. But, is it worth the cost? And how do you know if it's right for you? We've got you covered. 

Before you commit to a treatment, it's best to research any questions you might have. Lots of people love the results laser hair removal brings, but that doesn't mean it's for everyone.

You have to commit to several sessions for the best results, and let's face it: it isn't cheap. There's no guarantee you'll be hair-free forever, but at least you won't have to shave on the daily. 

Finding What Works for You

Lasers and pulsed lights work best on people with darker hair and lighter skin tones. However, there are  devices like the Diode and Nd-Yag, created to give results to people with light hair or dark skin.

For deeper skin tones, using the incorrect type of machine and lasers can cause discoloration. If your skin is dark, you should never subject yourself to an Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment.

Lasers have come a long way and the technology is continually improving. When you book your appointment, describe your skin tone and hair color and ask the salon what lasers they use (and if they'll provide results with your hair and skin tone). Some businesses specialize in the removal of light hair or lasers for deeper skin tones, making it easier to know what kind of treatment you'd receive there.

 

The Details

Lasers use pulsed light to target, break down, and destroy the dark pigment in hair. This is why it works so well on dark hair. But, unfortunately, this also means the lasers will also target skin pigments, which can cause discoloration. 

After treating an area, hairs fall out within 10 to 14 days.

Using a mild sugar scrub in the shower on the tenth day will help exfoliate skin and remove hair. It's also a good idea to use products your aesthetician may recommend and follow their after-treatment suggestions carefully.

Areas That Can Be Treated

Lasers and pulsed light target several follicles at once, so you can treat large areas of skin. While it can take years to perform electrolysis on larger areas like legs or arms, a typical laser hair removal session on both legs usually takes less than two hours. Lasers are great for treating back, shoulder, arm, and chest hair.

Lighter colored hair on the upper lip and chin can be tricky. Some lasers are able to target light hair without issues, but it can take a few treatments. Electrolysis might be a better option to ensure permanent hair removal.

How Long Does it Take? 

The office visit itself typically doesn't take long. It depends on the area being treated, though. For Your back or legs may take an hour or two, while the upper lip may only take minutes.

You'll see results after your first appointment, but it'll take several treatments to permanently remove hair. In four to six sessions, spaced about four weeks apart, you'll see 70 to 80 percent reduction in hair growth.

For best results, get maintenance treatments done once a year for at least a couple years.

No Guaranteed Results

There's never a guarantee that you'll enjoy a hair-free life after treatment. It's important to remember that laser hair removal works better for some people than others. 

No one knows for sure what hair regrowth rates are. Some people notice regrowth after several months or years, while others find they never have to shave again. 

How to Prepare

Once you decide what type of laser is best for your hair and skin tone, you'll likely be told to either shave a day or two before your sessions. You'll also want to avoid tanning and self-tanners before and after treatment. It is possible that you will need to stop taking certain medications to avoid adverse effects, so be honest about everything you take.

The day of your appointment, you'll want to avoid using any products on your skin. That includes lotions, deodorant, or anything else. Just walk out of the shower, dry off, and get dressed. Be sure to check with your aesthetician about any other things you should and should not do before and after your sessions.

Reduce the Pain

The pulsed light in laser hair removal feels like a rubber band snapping against your skin, although some machines perform differently. Not every zap will hurt and some areas, like the lower legs, hurt more than others, like your thighs).

It's often advised to take a couple ibuprofen an hour before your session. Some people recommend numbing the skin 20 minutes before your session with a spray or cream that contains four percent lidocaine. InStyle magazine recommends Gigi's Anesthetic Numbing Spray.

Pick the Right Expert

Many salons advertise cheap and discounted procedures, but the best places don't have to resort to discounts. Do your homework before signing up for services. Protect yourself and your skin by booking an appointment with a dermatologist or licensed technician only.

What It'll Cost You

Laser hair removal is not cheap. Depending on what body part you choose to treat, it can run from $200 to $2,000 per session. That is not including tax and tip.

As with any large decision, just be sure to do your research to find out what will work best for you.