If you’re tired of waxing, plucking, shaving, and tweezing, laser hair removal might sound like a godsend. The process is long-lasting because it uses a targeted laser to destroy the hair follicle, stopping or slowing down regrowth. If you’re thinking about biting the bullet and trying laser hair removal, here’s what you should know first.
It’s Not Always Permanent
Laser hair removal lasts longer than shaving or waxing, but one session won’t remove all your hair forever. Even though the laser will destroy the hair follicle, it may not get every one in the targeted area (say, your upper lip) and some hair may grow back, albeit lighter and less noticeable.
You can go back for multiple sessions to reduce the number of hairs growing back, and sometimes you can wipe out all the hair entirely, usually after 6 to 8 sessions. But depending on how much hair grows back, you might opt to just pluck the extra strays.
You Should Never DIY
Although there are some at-home models on the market, dermatologists recommend you avoid them. If you’re not a qualified technician, you might go too hard on the skin and create permanent damage. Instead, always make sure to go to a reputable facility like a laser clinic.
There Can Be Side Effects
Laser hair removal isn’t painful, but it can make your skin in the targeted areas sensitive afterward. Women’s legs are often red and tender after treatment, like a sunburn. You may even experience swelling. You can use aloe vera gel to soothe the skin while you’re healing if you feel particularly tender from the procedure. It’s also recommended to wear sunscreen afterward, since your skin will be extra sensitive to light and avoid heavy makeup that may clog the skin.
There are other, more rare side effects that can be serious. There is a possibility with any kind of hair removal to get a skin infection, which should be treated by a dermatologist. There’s also the possibility of burning or scarring in case of error, which is another reason you should avoid the at-home kits and stick to finding qualified practitioners.
Shaving Is Okay, but Waxing Is a No-No
If you’re noticing hair regrowth between sessions, the best way to deal with it is by shaving. Waxing or plucking removes the hair from the root, which means the laser won’t have anything to target in your next session. You’d likely have to wait an additional four weeks for the root to regrow before you can have another laser treatment. Shaving, on the other hand, removes the hard but leaves the root intact.
Don’t Believe the Myths
While the idea of a laser might sound scary, the procedure is very safe and doesn’t cause any long-term damage. Some common myths about laser hair removal include that it can cause skin cancer, which is untrue. Another myth is that laser treatment, particularly in the bikini zone can cause infertility. That’s also untrue, but doctors do recommend pregnant women skip the treatments until after they’ve given birth.