Smooth by Summer? Start Laser Hair Removal Now
Do you enjoy spending time shaving? Ripping hair out regularly with depilatory wax? Of course, you don’t; no one does! This helps explain why laser hair removal is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures today. When performed by a trained expert, it offers permanent hair reduction that is quick, safe and effective. In fact, on Realself.com, 94% of men and women who’ve had laser hair removal say, “Yes, it’s worth it!”
Winter might seem too early to start removing hair for the beach. It is actually the best time of year to start the laser process. Kick off treatments on any part of your body — arms, legs, back, underarms, bikini line, stomach… anywhere. By the time summer rolls around, you’ll be ready to reveal smoother, swimsuit-ready skin.
Root out unwanted hair
Laser hair removal is designed to permanently eliminate hair growth by damaging germinative cells at the root. So how does it work without burning surrounding tissue?
It targets your hair’s melanin — its pigment — using a highly focused beam of light to heat up the follicle to destroy its regenerating mechanism. The laser works in a series of lightning-fast pulses coupled with ice cold contact cooling calibrated to keep heat from spreading beyond the hair follicle to your skin. Administered when a hair is actively growing, it can cause enough injury to the root to prevent the hair’s future growth — permanently.
In order to catch the maximum number of hairs during this growth phase, you’ll need several sessions. Each treatment will treat shaved skin and last anywhere between a couple minutes to 45. The laser pulses feel like a rubber band gently snapping on your skin. Payoff comes after three to seven sessions, spaced three to eight weeks apart depending on the area of the body treatment. However, you will notice substantial reduction in hairs in the area treated after just a couple of sessions.
Hair-removal lasers are not all the same. Each type offers its own advantages in terms of speed, strength and safety. Perhaps the most important consideration, however, is each device’s ability to work with your specific colors of hair and skin.
The lighter your skin and darker your hair, the easier it is for lasers to heat up your hair while leaving your skin unscathed. If you have a dark complexion, work with an expert to use a device that’s safe and effective on your coloring. If you have red, white, light blonde or grey hair, pigment may be insufficient for any device to heat the follicles at all.
The three newest, most effective types of laser hair removal devices are:
Diode lasers like the Lumenis LightSheer and Alma Soprano are the newest type and the most versatile. They produce a wavelength sized between those of the alexandrite and YAG lasers, and offer a fast repetition rate for quick treatment of larger areas. Diode lasers are most effective on dark hair with fair to medium skin shades but can be used safely and effectively on all skin types.
With the shortest wavelength, alexandrite lasers like the Candela GentleMax Pro are able to cover more area faster. Most effective with light skin, this type of device can also work safely on skin types up to 4 on the Fitzpatrick scale. Compared to other lasers, alexandrite lasers deliver the best results to fine hair on light skin only.
YAG lasers have the longest wavelength. This improves their ability to destroy hair at the very root. It also makes them best at distinguishing hair from dark skin. In the right hands, YAG lasers like the Alma Harmony or Candela GentleYag can be safe and highly effective even on African-American and very tan skin.
The success of your laser hair removal treatments rests largely in your own hands. Here are tips to help you get the smoothest skin possible out of the process:
- Stick to the schedule – Re-treat each area on schedule provided by your laser hair removal expert to improve your chances of hitting more hairs during their growth phase to permanently remove them.
- Take a break from certain skin treatments – Several days before laser treatment, stop applying tretinoin (Renova, Retin-A) and AHAs to avoid skin sensitivity. If using Accutane, talk to your doctor.
- Wait until skin is back to normal color – If you tan your skin, you cannot be treated by any laser. (Another good reason to do laser in the winter!) This goes for skin bronzed by a tanning bed, spray tan or self-tanner too (faux tans need to completely dissipate before safe treatment).
- No waxing or plucking before treatment – Laser removal only works if there’s a hair follicle under the skin to heat. Shaving beforehand is actually required, so that longer hairs don’t heat up and burn the skin’s surface.
- No waxing or plucking after treatment – For best results, let hair fall out on its own.
- Don’t swim or hot tub – For a week after laser hair removal, avoid irritation from saltwater and chlorine.
- Consider a breakout preventative – Treatment can leave hair follicles open for a few days. Ward off blemishes with good hygiene and antibacterial lotion.
- Protect your skin – Your skin will feel normal after lasering, but in reality will be sensitive. Apply a gentle full-spectrum sunscreen, and do not expose treated areas to potential irritants like perfume, deodorant, highly fragranced products or hot showers.
Laser hair removal is a hugely popular way to eliminate unwanted hair from anywhere on the face or body. It’s especially safe and effective when performed by a trained expert at the office of a board-certified dermatologist. Make your appointment with California Skin Institute. If you start the treatment process now, you can shed body hair in time for swimsuit season!
Results may vary and are not guaranteed.