Dr. Lian Beauty

How Laser Hair Removal Works (A 7-Step Guide To Hair-Free Skin)

woman receiving underarm laser hair removal treatment by a female aesthetician

Laser hair removal has transformed how people achieve smoother, hair-free skin. This cosmetic procedure uses concentrated light beams to target and disable hair follicles, preventing future hair growth. 

This guide explores the ins and outs of laser hair removal and how it works, the benefits, potential risks, preparation, the procedure itself, and aftercare. 

Whether you’re new to laser hair removal or want more information about how laser hair removal works, this article is your comprehensive resource for understanding this popular cosmetic treatment.

 

Overview

Laser hair removal is a beauty treatment that uses intense beams of light to target and disable hair follicles, preventing future hair growth.

This procedure can be done on various body parts like the face, legs, arms, underarms, and bikini area. 

Often regarded as “permanent”, this non-invasive procedure significantly reduces unwanted hair for a long time – clients report an 80% to 95% reduction in hair. 

Multiple sessions are usually needed for the initial removal, and some maintenance sessions might be required to maintain the results long-term.

 

Reasons for Considering Laser Hair Removal

Many people choose to get their hair removed using lasers for good reasons. Let’s explore some of the most common ones: 

 

woman receiving underarm laser hair removal treatment by a female aesthetician

 

First, laser hair removal leads to fewer ingrown hairs. Shaving and waxing often cause irritating ingrown hairs, but laser hair removal directly targets the hair follicle, reducing this issue. 

Secondly, laser hair removal provides long-lasting results, unlike temporary fixes like shaving or waxing. By disabling the hair follicles, laser hair removal offers a more permanent solution to hair reduction. 

Additionally, laser hair removal reduces the frequency of hair removal needed. This means less time spent on regular shaving or waxing routines, saving you time and effort in the long run. 

Lastly, laser hair removal can significantly boost confidence levels. Unwanted hair growth can lead to self-consciousness, but laser hair removal can provide smoother, hair-free skin, helping to enhance overall self-assurance.

 

Related: Alexandrite Laser for Hair Removal

 

Potential Risks

Laser hair removal can come with some potential side effects, though these are usually mild and temporary when performed by a qualified professional using the right laser device. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the possible risks: 

Skin irritation is common after laser hair removal. You may experience redness, swelling, or itchiness in the treated area. 

These discomforts usually go away within a few days. In rare cases, especially for people with darker skin, blisters may form. 

 

dark skin young man with smooth skin

 

Scarring is uncommon but can happen. To reduce this risk, see an experienced provider who knows how to care for different skin types. 

The treated area may also temporarily lighten or darken. 

Despite these minor issues, choosing a skilled practitioner greatly lowers the chances of complications. 

So, have realistic expectations and follow the provider’s guidance closely throughout the process.

 

Related: How To Get Rid Of Acne (and Other Post-Laser Hair Removal Side Effects)

 

Preparing for Laser Hair Removal

Before getting laser hair removal, it’s important to have a consultation with a qualified skin doctor or licensed aesthetician. 

During the consultation, the professional will discuss your medical history, assess your skin and hair, and decide if laser hair removal is right for you. 

They’ll also give you specific instructions to follow before the treatment, which may include: 

  • Avoiding Sun Exposure: Sun exposure can make your skin more sensitive to the treatment. It’s recommended to avoid tanning or using sunlamps for several weeks beforehand. 
  • Stopping Certain Medications: Some medications can increase sun sensitivity or affect the laser treatment. Your doctor will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines. 

 

  • Shaving the Treatment Area: You’ll likely be asked to shave the area that will be treated the day before or the day of the procedure.

 

Related: Understanding Sunburn: Types, Risks, Prevention and Treatment

 

What to Expect During the Procedure

The laser hair removal process is straightforward and can be done at a medical aesthetician’s office. Here’s what you can expect:

 First, the area will be cleaned, and you’ll be given eye protection to shield your eyes from the laser light. 

Then, the laser technician will use a handheld device to deliver short bursts of light to the target area. 

The laser energy is absorbed by the pigment in the hair, turning it into heat and damaging the hair follicle’s growth potential. 

This damage slows down future hair growth, resulting in hair reduction. 

You might feel a warm, prickly sensation or a snapping feeling, like a rubber band. 

Depending on the size of the area being treated, the process can take a few minutes to over an hour. 

Many laser systems have cooling mechanisms to minimize discomfort during the procedure. 

For instance, Cynosure’s Elite iQ dual wavelength laser, used in our clinic has a unique cooling system called the Zimmer Cryo Chiller, which soothes the treatment area before, during, and after the procedure.

 

Cynosure elite iq laser

 

Post-Procedure Care

Following laser hair removal, proper aftercare is essential to promote healing and minimize the risk of side effects. Here are some key post-treatment recommendations:

  • Sun Protection: Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher daily to protect the treated area from sun exposure.

 

  • Moisturizing: Keep the treated area well-hydrated with a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer.

 

  • Avoiding Hot Showers and Saunas: Avoid hot showers, saunas, and strenuous exercise for the first 24-48 hours after treatment.

 

  • Loose-Fitting Clothing: Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing to avoid irritating the treated area.

 

Related: Does Laser Hair Removal Ruin Tattoos (+3 key Tips For Better & Safe Results)

 

Expected Results 

You may notice some hair reduction right after your first laser hair removal session. 

However, to get the best results, you’ll typically need multiple sessions spaced about 4-6 weeks apart. 

This timing allows the laser to target the hairs during their active growth phase. 

The number of sessions needed can vary depending on factors like your hair color, skin tone, and hormones. 

Darker, coarser hair generally responds better to laser treatment and may need fewer sessions compared to lighter, finer hair. 

Lasers work best on lighter skin tones, but the Cynosure Elite iQ system used at Dr. Lian Beauty can safely treat a wider range of skin tones. 

 

Related: Cynosure’s Elite iQ: The Life-Changing Laser Hair Treatment

 

People with hormonal imbalances may require additional sessions or touch-up treatments. 

After the first treatment, you can expect to see a 10-25% reduction in hair growth. Over the course of multiple sessions, the hair reduction will continue to improve.

After the treatment process, you can expect to be free of hair for several months or even years.

However, some hair growth may return, though it will likely be finer and lighter in color. You may need additional maintenance sessions to sustain the long-term results.

 

Are At-Home Laser Hair Devices Worth It?

While professional laser hair removal offers great results over time, at-home laser hair removal devices are becoming more popular and easier to use. 

But it’s important to know the differences between them to decide which is best for you.

When it comes to how well at-home laser hair removal devices work, they usually have weaker lasers compared to the ones used by professionals. 

This means it might take longer to see results, and the results might not be as noticeable. Also, these devices may not work as well on light-colored hair like blonde or red hair.

When you’re thinking about whether at-home laser hair removal devices are worth buying, it’s important to consider the cost. 

Even though they might seem cheaper at first, getting similar results as professional treatments might mean buying multiple devices over time. 

Plus, some devices need replacement parts, which adds to the overall cost. And because these devices aren’t as powerful, you might not get the results you hoped for.

Comparing at-home laser hair removal to going to a professional clinic, going to a clinic has some advantages. Professionals use stronger lasers, so you’ll see faster and better results. 

They can also adjust the treatment to fit your skin and hair, which makes it safer. Clinics also give you advice on how to take care of your skin after treatment.

Deciding whether to buy your own laser hair removal device depends on what’s important to you. 

If you want to spend less money upfront and don’t mind waiting longer for results, an at-home device might be okay. But you should know that it might not work as well, especially if you have light-colored hair.

 

Considerations for Different Hair Colors

Laser hair removal is most effective on dark, coarse hair with a high concentration of melanin. 

Lighter hair colors, such as blonde, red, or gray do not respond as well to laser treatment because there is little to no dark pigment, the laser has difficulty locating a target, resulting in a lack of absorption for the energy. 

Dr. Lian Beauty will assess your individual case and advise you on the suitability of laser hair removal for your specific hair color.

 

Alternative Hair Removal Methods

Beyond laser hair removal, a variety of hair removal methods exist, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. 

Deciding which method is right for you depends on several factors, including your budget, pain tolerance, skin type, and desired results.

 

Shaving

Shaving is perhaps the most common hair removal method. It’s inexpensive, convenient, and fast, making it a good choice for those on a budget or who need a quick solution. 

However, shaving only provides temporary results, with hair regrowing quickly. 

Additionally, shaving can cause irritation and ingrown hairs, especially for those with sensitive skin.

 

Related: Why is Shaving Before Laser Hair Removal So Important?

 

Epilation

Epilation offers longer-lasting results than shaving.  Epilation methods, like epilators, plucking, and waxing, remove hair from the root, leading to smoother skin for weeks.

However, these methods can be uncomfortable or irritating, especially for those with sensitive skin. Additionally, epilation can cause ingrown hairs or infections if not done properly.

 

Sugaring

Sugaring is a variation of waxing that uses a more natural paste, potentially making it gentler on sensitive skin.  

While sugaring may be less painful than waxing, it’s also less effective at precise hair removal.  

Similar to waxing, sugaring can still cause irritation, especially for sensitive skin, and professional sugaring is often recommended.

 

Related: Laser Hair Removal vs. Sugaring: What’s Right for You?

 

Threading

Threading is another option, particularly well-suited for smaller areas like eyebrows.  Threading offers precise hair removal and is faster than plucking. 

However, threading is time-consuming and not ideal for large areas. Additionally, threading can cause micro tears in the skin if not done correctly.

 

Chemical depilatories

Chemical depilatories offer a painless and convenient option for hair removal.  They are readily available and inexpensive. 

However, the results are very temporary, with hair regrowing quickly. Additionally, the harsh chemicals used in depilatories can irritate the skin.

 

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments

For a longer-lasting alternative to traditional methods, some consider Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments.  Similar to laser hair removal, IPL uses light to target and damage hair follicles.

However, IPL is often cheaper and covers larger areas compared to laser hair removal.  While IPL can effectively reduce hair growth and make hair finer and lighter, it requires professional treatment, which can be expensive. 

 Additionally, IPL may not be suitable for everyone, with the best results typically seen on lighter skin tones and darker hair colors. 

IPL treatments can also cause side effects like burns, blisters, or pigmentation changes. Multiple sessions are typically needed for optimal results with IPL.

 

Electrolysis

Electrolysis offers a potential solution for permanent hair removal.  Unlike other methods that target hair growth cycles, electrolysis directly destroys the hair follicle.  

This can lead to permanent hair removal after just one treatment. 

However, electrolysis is expensive and time-consuming, as each follicle needs to be treated individually.  

Additionally, electrolysis can cause skin irritation, scarring, or pigmentation changes.  Due to the potential risks and complexity of the procedure, electrolysis should only be performed by a professional.

Ultimately, the best hair removal method depends on your individual needs and preferences.  Consider your budget, pain tolerance, skin type, and desired results when making your decision. 

Consulting with a licensed aesthetician can be extremely helpful. 

They can assess your situation and recommend the safest and most effective hair removal method for you.

 

Conclusion: Is Laser Hair Removal Right for You?

Laser hair removal offers a long-term solution for achieving smoother, hair-free skin. However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. 

Consulting a qualified professional to discuss your goals, suitability, and expectations is the first step. 

By understanding how laser hair removal works, potential risks, and aftercare requirements, you can make an informed decision about whether laser hair removal is the right choice for you. 

So, schedule a consultation today and explore the path to achieving your desired results!

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