You know that soft and silky feeling you get after a wax? You’re smooth, you’re confident, you’ve got that extra bounce in your step. Well imagine that feeling forever. No monthly waxing sessions, no awkward regrowth and no ingrown hairs! The world of laser hair removal can be an intrepid one, so we sat down with Roxie, manager at The New York Laser Clinic and Medispa to help us debunk it once and for all. Whether you’ve been putting it off for years, are sitting firmly on the fence or just want to find out more about this most magical of hair removal treatments, we’re here to convert you one burning question at a time…
By Rebecca Hoffnung
1 The science-y bit
So how does it work? The laser in the specialised machine converts light into heat as it passes through the skin, and the heat energy is then absorbed by the pigment in the hair. The heat damages the hair follicle and surrounding structures and as a result inhibits its growth over time.
2 There’s no time like the present
First things first. There is no better time to begin your laser hair removal journey than right. Now. Due to sensitivity, exposing your skin to direct sunlight pre and post-laser is a big no no, so Autumn is the perfect time to book in for your first session. ‘Direct sun exposure before and after a laser treatment can result in burns due to the active melanin in the skin’s epidermis’ explained Roxie.
3 No pain no gain
We’re not gonna lie, the laser can hurt a bit. It’s similar to the feeling of a rubber band flick, but the whole session usually only takes 10-20 minutes so it’s a small price to pay for eternal hairlessness. Your therapist will often start off your first couple of sessions on a lower strength, gradually increasing this over the course of your appointments.
4 Avoid post-laser touch ups
If you’ve waxed most of your adult life, it will be tempting to book in for a quick touch up between laser sessions, but again, this is a big no no. ‘Between treatments you should not wax, pluck, thread or epilate the hair as we need the hair to be attached to its follicle – if you remove the hair this will make your laser treatment ineffective’ explained Roxie. You can shave away to your heart’s delight though, so if you’ve feeling a little fuzzy this is your best backup option.
5 It doesn’t work on everyone
Disclaimer: unfortunately laser doesn’t work on every hair type, as Roxie explained: ‘the perfect hair and skin type for the laser is pale skin and dark hair. Blonde, grey and very light brown won’t work – the darker the hair the better! The laser is attracted to pigment in the hair which lighter shades have much less of – there is about a 50/50 chance of it working on light brown or red hair.’ A good therapist should tell you in advance if they have doubts about the treatment working.
6 It takes commitment
You should see results from your first session, as the hair tends to become thinner and doesn’t grow back as fast. Your hair will then appear to grow back as normal, but after 2-3 weeks it falls away and a new regrowth cycle begins. ‘You should leave 4-6 weeks between facial laser hair removal and 6-8 weeks between body laser hair removal’ explained Roxie; ‘after a course of 6-8 treatments you may need to leave it a bit longer between visits as the hair growth will slow down.’
7 Think of it as an investment
Do some simple math – how much money do you spend on a bikini wax every year? And how about your legs? Sure, laser hair removal isn’t the cheapest option when it comes to removing unwanted body hair, but it gives you the longest lasting results, and over time is much kinder on your wallet. Think of it as a serious investment for smooth, stubble-free skin.
- Avoid any kind of fake tanning (from sunbeds to spray tans) in the 2 weeks post and prior to your appointment
- Make sure the area is shaved at least 24 hours before your treatment. Do wear loose fitting clothing for your comfort
- Avoid any creams/washes that have active ingredients such as AHA's, Vitamin A or Retinoids, and alert your therapist if you’re taking any prescription medication that may make you photosensitive
- Purchase a good 99.9% aloe vera and keep it refrigerated to sooth your skin after laser
- You’ll require a patch test at least 24 hours before you can get started, so be sure to put some time aside for that so your therapist can check how your skin reacts
- From certain medications to pregnancy or hormonal changes, lasered hair can grow back, but usually in a much sparser and more manageable way
- On the right hair type, 6-8 sessions usually zaps 60-80% of hair
- Avoid the gym, make up, swimming, hot baths and showers for at least 24 hours after a laser session as this can aggravate the skin