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Laser Hair Removal: Pros, Cons, and Everything You Should Know
Itching to get rid of hair in certain areas? You’re not alone. Oftentimes, having body hair — as natural as it may be — can be a source of self-consciousness. While more and more people are feeling comfortable sporting their au natural look, body hair and all, some people may still prefer a clean-shaven appearance.
However, certain styles of hair removal can actually do more harm than good. Shaving can yield chicken skin and ingrown hairs, as can waxing, and the hair regrows quite quickly. Depilatory creams are quick and easy, but they can be too harsh and cause skin sensitivity, sometimes leading to burning.
So what exactly is the best way to get rid of unwanted hair without putting our skin through too much?
Enter: laser hair removal. Thanks to modern technology, laser treatment is now one of the most popular and easiest methods of removing body hair. Laser hair removal works by targeting specific areas with unwanted hair growth through laser light. The pigment in the hair attracts the laser, which in turn attempts to destroy the hair follicle by the root.
And contrary to how the word “laser” may sound, most laser hair removal treatments are actually incredibly safe and don’t hurt at all. They also last longer and don’t require a lot of maintenance except for your return sessions.
Trust us when we say this procedure isn’t as complicated as it sounds, and it’s also a sensible option if you’re aiming for permanent hair reduction.
Among other hair removal methods, laser hair removal is one of the most highly-favored cosmetic procedures. There’s no doubt why — it’s simple, effective, and semi-permanent.
Thinking about booking a session yourself? Here’s everything you need to know!
What exactly is laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal is a form of semi-permanent hair removal for hair growth in different parts of the body. The energy from the laser destroys the hair follicle at the root, preventing further hair growth. To get you started, here are some fast facts about laser hair removal:
1. There are three main types
A few factors go into play when we’re talking about laser hair removal. First is the patient’s skin color. Since laser hair removal works by detecting pigment in hairs, darker skin tones were often discouraged from getting laser treatments. This is because of the possibility that the laser would mistake darker skin tones for hair pigment, leading to complications during the procedure.
Fortunately, technology has since improved to accommodate people of varying skin tones. There are 3 main types of laser treatments:
- Diode — One of the more recent and perhaps widely-used methods of removing hair safely is through diode laser treatments. That’s because diode lasers are safe to use on any skin type. Whether you have fair skin, medium skin, or dark skin, the diode laser knows how to get rid of unwanted hairs.
- Alexandrite — Looking to get rid of body hair on a large part of your body? The alexandrite is your gal. It’s the fastest among the types of lasers, so if the affected skin is pretty vast, this might be your best option. It is recommended for those who have light to olive skin tones.
- Nd:YAG — If you’re someone with darker skin, then Nd:YAG is another great choice. In fact, it’s better suited for dark skin than it is for those with light skin. Nd:YAG uses a long pulse laser which is shown to be less efficient in targeting melanin, making it safe for darker skin types.
2. Laser hair removal isn’t painful
It’s hard not to think of lasers as something that’s going to zap and burn your skin. Thankfully, laser hair removal is incredibly painless. All you have to do is prepare your skin beforehand (no waxing, certain medications, tweezing, etc.) and basically just sit back and relax.
They might even apply a topical anesthetic or numbing cream if the situation calls for it. In some clinics, they’ll apply cold gel or work a special cooling device on the area. If you feel any pain during the procedure, be sure to alert the professional handling you.
3. Results take time and multiple sessions
Don’t expect permanent hair removal right away. In the world of laser treatments, patience and actually attending all your follow-up sessions is key. While the hair removal process is itself very quick (usually less than a minute if the affected area is small, like the underarm), it might take 2-3 weeks after the first treatment to see visible results.
Also, you’ll need to come back for repeat visits and multiple sessions in order for the laser to destroy the hair follicles and prevent future hair growth.
In our opinion, this is a better investment for those of us who don’t want to keep shaving or waxing every time our hair grows out. You’ll have to go back for multiple treatments over a span of time, the average being six to eight sessions for the best results. However, the rate of hair growth and the interval between each treatment will depend on the area being treated.
4. A laser treatment is great for those who have thick, coarse, or dark hair
Most of us Filipinas have thick, dark, and even coarse hair, and we all know how hard hair removal is especially if the hair keeps growing back quickly. Not to worry, because laser hair removal is actually perfect for dark hair.
This is because the laser is attracted to pigment, making it an effective hair removal procedure. However, you might need more repeat sessions than others.
5. Laser treatment is effective in multiple areas
Whether it’s your bikini, underarm, chin, or upper lip area that needs a little retouching, laser hair removal is highly effective. You can also get a procedure done in other parts, but these four are the best candidates.
6. You might have to avoid the sun for a while
One downside to this hair removal method is that you’ll really have to plan it out on a day where you haven’t been exposed to the sun for long periods of time because you’re not only required to avoid sun exposure after the process but before it, too.
According to Cosmopolitan, you might not be able to get the procedure done if the targeted area has been exposed to direct sunlight four weeks prior to the appointment.
In some cases, this can mean having to cover up the treatment area, such as the underarm or bikini line. The most you’ll have to do is avoid sleeveless tops and bikinis. However, you’ll have to be a little more careful if you’re planning to zap away hairs on your upper lip or chin area.
7. Permanent hair removal requires investment
And by investment, we don’t just mean time. We mean actual financial investment. In the Philippines, the average cost for a single session is somewhere around Php 2,500-3,500 depending on the clinic. Some offer lifetime packages that have a discounted price compared to single-paying sessions.
If you’re lucky, you can even score a promo. But the bottom line is, be prepared to shell out a little money, at least at first. Depending on your hair removal habits, investing in laser treatments can actually save you more money in the long run.
Is laser hair removal bad for you?
There’s no doubt that laser hair removal is an incredibly safe option. However, there are still a few potential side effects. According to the FDA, a laser hair removal treatment may cause blistering, discoloration, skin irritation, and redness.
In some very rare cases, laser hair removal has actually resulted in more hair growing. Specifically, vellus hairs have been shown to grow longer when the laser targets them. Don’t worry, though, because most professionals will be able to tell you beforehand if this might be an issue.
Do be sure to have the procedure done by a licensed professional of cosmetic dermatology to get the best out of your laser hair removal treatment. We also advise not to do it at home unless you’re also an experienced professional in this area.
How permanent is laser hair removal?
In order to permanently remove hair, the hair follicle must be fully destroyed, according to Medical News Today. This sounds simple, but it actually takes a bit of time and repeated treatments in order to fully achieve.
We mentioned above that you’d need six to eight sessions, which will vary depending on the treated area, in order to get permanent results, a.k.a. really remove those hair follicles. If the hair follicle still isn’t fully destroyed, expect some hair regrowth within a few months.
How long does hair have to be for laser removal?
Your hair has to be quite short for your session. In fact, most clinics will ask you to shave your hair within 24 hours before the session. Waxing and tweezing are huge no’s, however, as these can remove the hair follicle. With shaving, the hair follicle stays intact, allowing the laser to easily target it.
Is it worth getting laser hair removal?
With all the preparation necessary, is the procedure truly worth it? We believe so! The procedure is ultimately safe, quick, and most of all, effective. Now you won’t have to suffer through the woes of shaving your bikini line and worrying about razor burns or the chicken skin that comes from tweezing your underarms.
It’s good news if your hair grows quickly, too, because you won’t have to keep removing it every so often. Instead, you’ll just have to wait for your next few sessions. Once each hair follicle has been safely zapped away, you’ll have hair-free, smoother skin!
At the end of the day, beauty is all about being comfortable in your own skin. If you prefer to go hair-free, then laser treatment is a worthy investment, especially if you want to get rid of hair in unwanted places for good. It’s proven by plenty of medical science journals to be safe and effective. Just make sure to do all the prep work and aftercare, and you’re golden!
We hope this guide addressed the concerns you may have. Do you have a few experiences of your own to share? Comment down below!
Joey is an AB Psychology graduate of the University of St. La Salle – Bacolod. Her life’s passions include writing, film, and spending hours on end binge-watching fashion vloggers on Youtube.