Of all the beauty treatments out there, removing your facial hair or body hair can be one of the least pleasant. But it doesn’t have to be difficult as long as you choose the right method for your preferences, hair type and needs. If you want to get rid of that fuzz along your upper lip, hairs on your chin and sprouts between your brows, here’s what you need to know about each possible method.
LASER HAIR REMOVAL
Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a laser — an intense, pulsating beam of light — to remove unwanted hair.
During laser hair removal, a laser beam passes through the skin to an individual hair follicle. The intense heat of the laser damages the hair follicle, which inhibits future hair growth.
Although laser hair removal effectively slows hair growth, it doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal. It typically takes multiple laser hair removal treatments to provide an extended hair-free period. Periodic maintenance treatments might be needed as well.
Is laser hair removal right for me?
Laser hair removal is used to reduce unwanted hair. Common treatment locations include legs, underarms, upper lip, chin and bikini line. However, it’s possible to treat unwanted hair in nearly any area — except the eyelid or surrounding area.
Hair color and skin type influence the success of laser hair removal. For example, laser hair removal is most effective for people who have light skin and dark hair because the laser beam targets the pigment (melanin) in the hair. However, advances in technology have made laser hair removal an option for people who have darker skin. At Renew MD we have over 14 years experience in performing laser hair removal on male and female clients of a variety of ethnicities. We are extensively experienced in treating darker ethnic skin.
Laser hair removal doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal. Every client is different and some hair could be resistant to the laser treatment or grow again after treatment — although the new hair growth might be finer and lighter in color.
The most common (but rarely observed) side effects of laser hair removal include:
- Skin irritation. Temporary discomfort, redness and swelling are possible after laser hair removal. Any signs and symptoms typically disappear within several hours.
- Pigment changes. Laser hair removal might darken or lighten the affected skin, usually temporarily.
How You Prepare
- Stay out of the sun. A tan increases the risk of side effects, such as skin lightening. If you have a tan — either from sun exposure or sunless tanning products — wait until the tan fades completely before undergoing laser hair removal. Some doctors recommend staying out of the sun for up to six weeks before laser hair removal.
- Avoid plucking, waxing and electrolysis. These hair removal methods can disturb the hair follicle and interfere with laser hair removal.
- Shaving is recommended as it preserves the hair shaft and follicle allowing the laser to target it. It is important to shave before your laser appointment so that surface hair does not cause any burns.
What to expect
Before laser hair removal, the hair in the treatment area should be shaved (not waxed or plucked). You’ll also be given special goggles to protect your eyes from the laser beam.
During the procedure
The nurse will press a hand-held laser instrument to your skin. A cooling device on the tip of the instrument or a cool gel will be used to protect your skin.
When the laser is activated, the laser beam will pass through your skin to the tiny sacs (follicles) where hair growth originates. The intense heat from the laser beam damages the hair follicles, which inhibits hair growth. Some discomfort in the skin is possible, and you’ll likely feel a sensation of cold from the cooling device or gel.
Treating a small area, such as the upper lip, might take only a few minutes. Treating a larger area, such as the back, might take several hours.
After the procedure
You might notice redness and swelling for the first few hours after laser hair removal.
To reduce any discomfort, apply ice to the treated area. If you have a skin reaction immediately after laser hair removal, you may have to apply steroid cream to the affected area.
After laser hair removal, avoid sun exposure — both natural sunlight and tanning beds. When your skin has healed, use sunscreen whenever you’re in the sun.
You might also prepare yourself for possible hair shedding in the first few days and weeks after treatment. This can sometimes be mistaken for hair regrowth.
Results of laser hair removal vary greatly from person to person, and might depend on what area of the body or face is treated.
Multiple treatments can prolong the duration of hair loss — up to years in some cases — but hair regrowth is still possible. For best results, you might need four to six treatments spaced around four to six weeks apart. Additional periodic maintenance treatments — perhaps once every six to 12 months — might be needed as well.
What about home lasers?
In recent years, lasers that can be used at home for hair removal have become available. These devices might cause modest hair reduction. But there aren’t any large studies comparing how effective these devices are compared to laser hair removal done at a doctor’s office.
Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers these home laser hair removal devices as cosmetic, not medical, which means they don’t get the same level of scrutiny as other medical devices. Currently, there have not been any large, long-term studies on how safe and effective the home machines are.
If you choose to use a home laser hair removal device, follow the instructions that come with the device to help reduce the risk of injury, especially eye injuries.