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Laser Hair Removal Treatment: Some Things Need to Know Before You Choose!

By Nancy H, PharmD
October 21, 2023
7 minutes
Laser Hair Removal Treatment Things

Scroll through any of your social media feeds… Chances are you will be shown an ad for a local clinic promising eternally smooth, silky hairless skin through their “SPECIAL new customer laser packages.”

Laser Hair Removal is a type of longer-lasting hair removal that involves destroying the hair follicle through targeted light or “lasers”. The hair follicle absorbs the light, and this energy is subsequently changed to heat. The heat destroys the hair follicle or at any rate, damages it, inhibiting the further growth of hair.

Is this removal permanent? Well, yes and no. 

It can be permanent if one goes through several sessions and is treated by a skilled laser hair removal technician. The keywords here are several and skilled. Laser hair removal done by an amateur technician can be and is often quite dangerous. But more on that later… The permanency of laser hair removal also depends on the color of the hair follicle and your skin. 

Most often, laser hair removal tends to be long-term instead of lifelong because the laser ends up damaging the hair follicle but not completely destroying it. This leads to hair growing back, albeit often lighter and less thick than before.

Multiple factors contribute to how long laser hair removal lasts. This post breaks down the entire process, the pros and cons, as well as the most frequently asked questions to do with laser hair removal. 

Table of Contents:

What is Laser Hair Removal?

Laser Hair Removal is the process of using light and heat energy to destroy hair follicles, thereby preventing future hair growth. As mentioned above, laser hair removal is a longer-lasting solution for hair removal, as compared to other common methods like shaving and waxing. 

Laser Hair Removal has become increasingly popular because of the advantages it offers. However, like all things that glitter and promise to be the next best thing since sliced bread, laser hair removal comes with its fair share of caveats… which brings us to the next point. 

The Pros and Cons of Laser Hair Removal?

No lies, laser hair removal has both advantages and disadvantages, unlike eating that last slice of pie (only advantages there, if you ask me!)

The Pros 

Laser Hair RemovalLaser hair removal can be very convenient seeing that its effects last much longer than traditional hair removal methods like waxing, shaving, or using hair removal creams. With laser hair removal, there’s no need to whip out that razor or cream every few days.

It is also considerably less messy compared to those tubs of hot wax or tubes of hair removal cream that you have to spread layers and layers off to get rid of that pesky stubborn hair.   

Many users who have undergone multiple laser hair removal treatments also swear that the hair that may grow back after a session is considerably lighter in color and thinner in width. Many have reported that often the hair growth is so thin that it is barely noticeable.

The Cons

Full Body Laser Hair Removal CostRemember when I said that laser hair removal done by anyone else but a skilled dermatologist or technician can be dangerous? A badly done laser hair removal session can lead to side effects like a change in skin color, blistering of your skin, scars, infections, and even cold sores. In other words, not going to a proper dermatologist can lead to a horror story that unfortunately has you in the lead role!

A few common disadvantages of laser hair removal that many face include slight swelling and redness in the area that is being treated. However, these effects are usually temporary and minor, going away on their own in a couple of days.

Then there’s the entire rigmarole of actually preparing for a laser hair removal session (as explained in detail in this brilliant post by Nancy.) During the process itself, people may experience discomfort, akin to a rubber band constantly snapping against them. We all have different pain tolerance thresholds and while some may find laser hair removal quite painful, others may only experience light pinpricks.

Laser hair removal treatments can also be expensive and the costs can build up through multiple sessions required to sustain the results. According to the latest stats from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, an average hair removal session in the USA hovers around the $389 mark. Read more on why laser hair removal is so expensive here.

What is IPL and how is Laser Hair Removal different from IPL?

Considering all these disadvantages, what then is the solution? Is there a hair removal method that can offer the advantages of laser hair removal without the costs and side effects involved?

Enter IPL or Intense Pulsed Light, a treatment similar to laser hair removal, but with added advantages.

IPL is similar to laser in the sense that they both use light energy to destroy hair follicles by targeting the melanin in the hair. However, IPL uses a broadband pulsed light source while laser uses a monochromatic or single wavelength light band.   

Does IPL have any advantages compared to laser hair removal? 

Yes, IPL definitely has a few advantages compared to laser hair removal. 

To begin with, IPL devices such as the Ulike Sapphire Air3 are handheld devices that are super easy to use. The Ulike Sapphire Air3 is a portable, light device that can easily slip into a bag, making it a superb choice for on-the-go hair removal. 

The Sapphire Air3 is more convenient than laser because it can be done from the comfort of your home. No more battling traffic to reach a laser clinic on time… After all, wouldn’t you agree that in today’s world, saving time is equal to saving money?

An IPL device is also a one-time investment, unlike laser hair removal which requires multiple sessions, each costing you quite a bit of money! Ulike promises visible hair reduction in as little as 3 weeks, which means you see smoother skin in under a month! Of course, results may vary from individual to individual. 

Laser hair removal can be painful if you have a low pain tolerance level. However, if you choose a device like the Sapphire Air3, you will benefit from their patented Sapphire Ice-cooling Technology which maintains the surface of the skin at a comfortable 58 degrees Fahrenheit ( or 14 degrees Celsius.) This eliminates the heat on the skin that one often feels during a laser hair removal session.

IPL devices also eliminate the risk of an inept technician conducting your laser hair removal session. With a device like the Sapphire Air3, and in fact all Ulike devices, your safety is assured since these handy little things come with built-in skin sensor indicators that only light up when the light window touches your skin fully. No more accidental sharp lights flashing!

Frequently Asked Questions on Laser Hair Removal

1. Is laser hair removal permanent?

No, in many cases, laser hair removal is not permanent as the hair follicle gets damaged but not destroyed. This leads to hair growing back, albeit lighter and thinner. 

2. How long does laser hair removal last?

Depending on a multitude of factors (such as your skin tone, thickness and color of your hair, the type of laser used, number of repeat sessions, etc.) laser hair removal can last for a few months. However, most people require multiple sessions before they notice long-lasting effects. 

3. Does laser hair removal hurt?

Pain felt during laser hair removal can differ from person to person. In most cases, there is a warm feeling of a rubber band snapping against your skin. 

4. When do results of laser hair removal begin to appear?

The results usually vary from person to person, depending on multiple factors. Typically, around a 10 percent reduction may be seen after the first session. Most require anywhere between 2 to 6 sessions to get actual, noticeable results. 

5. Does skin color matter for laser hair removal?

Generally speaking, people with light skin and dark hair usually see more success. This is because laser hair removal works by targeting the melanin in the hair. Melanin is a kind of pigment produced in our bodies that influences the color of our hair, skin, and eyes. The more melanin one’s body produces, the darker one’s hair.  

Additional Tips to get the best out of your laser hair removal session

Here are a few tips to help you gain maximum success with laser hair removal. 

Before your session:

1. Do not wax or pluck the hair in the area that is to be treated. Shaving can be done the previous day so that the hair follicles retain the melanin pigment in them. 

2. Gently exfoliate the treatment area 2-3 days before your session. 

3. Do not use any chemical peels or treatments for at least a month before your session. 

4. On the day of your session, do not use any moisturizers, topical ointments, creams, or makeup on the area to be treated. 

5. Wear loose clothing on the day of your session as tight clothing may rub against your skin causing discomfort after the session. 

How Often to Reapply Sunscreen?After your session:    

1. Avoid any direct exposure to the sun, especially the area that has been treated. 

2. Exercise and hot showers are generally a no-no till at least 24 hours after your session. Your skin will be sensitive after the session, and you may develop a rash from an increase in body temperature or from the bacteria in sweat produced during a workout after laser hair removal.   

3. Pay attention to and follow the aftercare instructions given to you by your dermatologist.

In Conclusion

To cut a long story short, laser hair removal can be an effective and long-lasting hair removal solution. After multiple sessions, one may experience smooth, hairless skin for months at a stretch. However, laser treatments can be expensive, especially since several follow-up sessions are generally required, and permanent hair removal cannot be guaranteed.

Nancy H, PharmD
I am Nancy a licensed pharmacist with extensive knowledge in the healthcare industry. I enjoy writing on a variety of topics including; disease management, dietary supplements, nutrition, fitness, functional medicine, and lifestyle changes for optimal health. Below is my Linkedin profile
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