Laser Hair Removal: Everything You Need to Know

Laser Hair Removal: Everything You Need to Know

Everyone has their preferred hair removal method of choice. Shaving is quick and convenient, waxing offers silky smooth results and sugaring is gentle and all-natural. But if you find yourself sick of always having to pre-plan your hair removal, a more long-term solution may be in the cards. Cue laser hair removal, a method of removing unwanted hair that has skyrocketed in popularity over the last few decades. While the technique requires some level of time and financial commitment, the results are longer-lasting (and you will not have that post-shave stubble or any messy wax to worry about).

Expert Tip: Laser hair removal is known to be more painful than other methods of hair removal like shaving, waxing and sugaring. If you would like to be better prepared for your appointment,  Zensa Numbing Cream is an effective way to ensure you are comfortable during the treatment. In addition to numbing the area with maximum strength 5% lidocaine, it contains vitamin E to act as an anti-inflammatory and support proper healing. Use Zensa Numbing Cream on any area you plan on getting laser hair removal, such as the face, bikini area or underarms.

Below, we spoke to a board-certified dermatologist to learn everything there is to know about this popular treatment, including the process, who it is best for, how to prepare for it, proper aftercare protocol and side effects to keep in mind.

What is Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal is a popular cosmetic procedure that uses a laser (or a concentrated beam of light) to remove unwanted hair on the face or body. "The laser heats up the hair follicle's root as the laser energy is selectively absorbed by the pigment in the root and gradually damages it," says Bruce E. Katz, a board-certified dermatologist and director of JUVA Skin & Laser Center.

Laser hair removal comes with a slew of benefits. For one, ingrown hairs are a non-issue. According to Dr. Katz, the laser "destroys the hair so that it will not grow." This is in contrast to waxing, which pulls out the hair but does not get rid of it, says Dr. Katz, and shaving, which removes hair only from the surface. Laser hair removal can also improve pigmentation caused by ingrown hairs and can end problems with folliculitis (infections of the hair follicle), says Dr. Katz. Finally, laser hair removal offers longer-lasting results than waxing and especially shaving, which is prone to quick regrowth since it does not remove the hair from the root. While laser hair removal is not 100% permanent, it significantly reduces the amount of hair in the treated area, and for many people, the hair that remains is finer and lighter in color.

Who is Laser Hair Removal Best For?

Laser hair removal works best on those with dark, thick hair and lighter skin tones. Laser delivers a focused beam of light onto the melanin within a hair follicle, so if there is no melanin in the hair (for instance, if it is blonde or gray), the laser will not be effective. Those with less pigment in the skin and more pigment in the hair have a bigger contrast, making the laser better able to focus in on the hair and deliver the energy where it is supposed to go. For those with darker skin tones, it is important to know that some lasers can target pigment too aggressively, which can cause scarring and burning. However, technological advancements have made it possible for those with deeper skin tones to receive laser hair removal treatment — just make sure you are visiting an experienced practitioner who has a specialized laser for your skin tone.

How to Prepare For Laser Hair Removal

To prepare for your treatment, Dr. Katz recommends avoiding anything that could potentially irritate the skin, such as other hair removal methods (like waxing, tweezing and shaving) and sun exposure. You should also arrive at your appointment bare-skinned with no perfumes, deodorant or lotions on the area to be treated. Some areas that are more sensitive, such as the bikini area or underarms, are more prone to discomfort, in which case a numbing cream like Zensa Numbing Cream can help reduce any pain. Apply a half-inch thick  layer on the area 30 to 45 minutes before the treatment for best results.

Laser Hair Removal Results and Aftercare

In terms of results, you will likely see a significant reduction in hair after the first session. But, Dr. Katz notes that you will need multiple hair removal sessions to fully damage the hair follicle. The number of sessions required depends on the area that is being treated, but generally speaking you will need six to eight sessions spaced six to eight weeks apart for optimal results. You may also need maintenance sessions after completing a series of treatments to target any new growth.

After a laser hair removal session, it is common to experience redness, bumps and irritation on the area, which are all temporary and should ease up after a few days. You can apply aloe or Zensa Healing Cream (which contains skin-calming cucumber extract) to soothe and gently hydrate the area. Dr. Katz recommends protecting the treated area with sunscreen as well as avoiding direct sun exposure and harsh skincare products that could cause further irritation.

Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is considered a safe treatment, but it comes with a few side effects. For one, Dr. Katz says you may experience pigment changes and scarring if your skin was burned. Some people also experience hair regrowth due to things like hair type, hormonal shifts, aging and the nature of the area being treated. Finally, though rare, infections in the form of swelling, pain and discharge are possible. Reach out to your practitioner if you suspect your skin is infected.

Laser hair removal is an excellent way to reduce unwanted hair on the face or body. While it is more painful than waxing or shaving, it offers long-term hair reduction and is more precise at targeting specific areas like the face, bikini area and underarms. It is also quick, with some areas like the upper lip only requiring a few minutes, and can help improve skin texture and smoothness.


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