In our quest to be permanently fuzz-free, thanks to technological progress, aka Laser Hair Reduction, we can rid ourselves of those periodic waxing/shaving hassles. Laser hair removal has come a long way since its introduction in the 1960s. It has been refined to suit the needs of diverse skin and hair types. It is a safe and effective method of hair reduction that is performed under the supervision of a skin care specialist, as the frequency and intensity of laser sessions are determined by the specialist upon careful scrutiny and evaluation of the skin and hair type. But before taking the plunge to make oneself almost eternally hair-free, it is crucial that we understand the nuances and implications of the process. We answer ALL your questions about laser hair reduction.
1. It is a “Permanent hair reduction” not a “Permanent hair removal” process
Despite the tall claims of most aesthetic centres, laser retards hair growth but does not completely halt it. Hair may regrow upon passage of time due to factors such as hormonal changes etc. But the thickness of regrowth is definitely lesser than it would have been without a laser treatment. While the reduction in hair growth is so substantial that people can often go months or years without almost any hair growth, the inevitable fact is that over the years, due to hormonal changes etc., there is a distinct possibility of the hair growth returning. Manage your expectations accordingly to avoid disappointment.
2. Pain factor
While all laser hair reduction techniques promise a pain-free experience, it isn’t entirely true. The sensation experienced is akin to a rubber band snapping on your skin followed by some slight redness and tenderness which usually subsides within a day or two. Post treatment cooling potions are often prescribed to calm the skin. The pain factor is dependent on various factors such as:
Skin type: Dry skin tends to hurt more.
Time in between sessions: More the time, more is it likely to hurt.
Body part: Fleshy body parts such as the thighs tend to hurt lesser because of the presence of fat and muscle which act as a shield. Bony areas are, therefore, bound to hurt more.
Often, a topical anaesthetic cream aka numbing cream is used on sensitive areas to ease the pain. Also, pain is generally the highest in the first couple sessions and almost minimal in following sessions since hair growth reduces significantly with every session. Less hair equals less pain.
3. Be sun shy
It does not work on skin that has been sunburned or tanned. It is best to avoid excessive outdoor activities before and whilst undergoing laser. The best option would be to undergo laser in the cooler months. Moreover, since the skin is already sensitive from the laser, it is best to avoid direct sunlight for at least 48 hours post a session.
4. No waxing/threading/plucking/bleaching
Any form of hair removal involving pulling the hair from the follicle and bleaching is a strict NO when undergoing laser. Laser targets the pigment in the hair follicle and if we yank it out/bleach it away, there isn’t any left to target and it will, therefore, fail. Shaving is the only option to remain fuzz free during the entire course of the laser as the follicles are still intact.
5. Consistency yields the best results
Hair follicles have their own growth cycle and in order to get the best results from laser, it is absolutely imperative that the sessions are spaced out in a timely manner. Sessions spread out every 4-6 weeks (depending on the hair growth) often yield the best results.
6. Different lasers for different skin types
Dark, thick hair follicles are the easiest to treat, while, light, fine hair can be tricky. There is a different laser designed for each type of hair and the frequency of the laser beam differs based on the colour of skin/hair and thickness of hair. It is crucial that you get all the information from your physician prior to the treatment so that your expectations are managed and adequate precautions are taken. If your hair is too fine then they may even advise you not to try it as it may not work effectively on such hair.
7. Possibly the only real solution to ingrowths
While one can try to manage ingrowths with regular exfoliation, laser works like a charm to give the best possible results. Since ingrowths are caused by hair that grows into the follicle causing an unsightly black bump, laser kills the follicle so that there is no hair that can clog your pores. It may not treat the problem entirely but most specialists believe that this may be the most effective long term treatment for ingrowths.
8. Post laser care
When you’re shooting laser beams into your skin and essentially burning the hair follicle, you ought to take adequate measures to protect your skin. Using sunscreens and moisturizers is non-negotiable. Harsh exfoliators, alcohol based products, certain essential oils etc. aren’t safe for use on skin that has been treated with laser. Additionally, you may have to consult your dermatologist to ensure that any topical treatments you may be using do not interact with the results of the laser or increase skin sensitivity.
9. Is it worth your time and money?
A little patience goes a long way in being satisfied with the results. It is totally worth the effort, pain, time and money that goes into it because it essentially means you can wear anything, at any time without having to worry about unsightly fuzz. It helps in giving the skin a smoother appearance, especially for those prone to ingrowths and enlarged pores on the body. Think of it as an investment in yourself that will reap lifelong dividends.
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Published on May 14, 2016