Shorts skirts and sundresses – That’s right – once again its the season for showing off a little skin! Whether its an upcoming trip to the Caribbean, or just sunning by the pool, we all want to look our best! For some of us that means keeping up on shaving, waxing, plucking, the whole daily routine, or for the motivationally challenged (like me, I’m not judging here) there is the wonderful world of laser hair removal.
Laser hair reduction often colloquially called laser hair removal is the process of targeting dark colored hairs and then heating them to the point that they burn the hair follicles, causing them to cease growing hair. The process is quite fascinating. When Theodore Maiman first invented the laser in 1960, he was quoted as having said a laser is a solution seeking a problem. While the science community was very excited about lasers, no-one knew exactly what to do with them. Now with advanced technology lasers are everywhere from cats toys, to dvd players to you guessed it – laser hair reduction.
How does it work?
Doctors use lasers with lower wavelengths in the red to infrared range, that flash the skin with short laser pulses. This is absorbed more heavily by the darker colored hairs, and reflected more by the lighter colored skin. (Although they do have specialized lasers for patients with darker skin tones.) Because the hairs absorb most of the energy, they rapidly heat and give secondary burns to the hair follicles, hopefully rendering them unable to grow more hair.
Tips tricks and things to remember when getting laser hair reduction:
- The first and foremost thing to remember is to go into the process with proper expectations. First of all, as is stated in the proper name, permanent hair reduction is not the same as permanent hair removal which is the commonly misspoken name for the procedure. (The FDA approved the procedure as a hair reduction process, not complete removal) This will not remove all of your hair. (The laser works much better on the thicker darker hairs, lighter more fine hairs will not absorb enough energy to properly damage the follicles) Also It’s going to take time. 5-10 treatments 4-6 weeks apart each is what is required to achieve between 70-90% reduction of hair, and it’s extremely important to go to all of your recommended treatments, in the proper time frame. This can be a bit expensive, so make sure you have planned ahead.
- Preparation – Your doctor will give you a full list of ways to prep for your procedure, however a very important thing to remember is to not pluck or wax for at least 6 weeks before the procedures. If there are no dark hairs leading down into the roots, the laser will not be effective.
- Don’t bleach your hair. I know – it’s tempting to do so, especially when you can’t wax or pluck, but those hairs need to stay dark if they are going to be able to absorb enough energy to destroy their follicles.
- Avoid sun exposure for at least 2 weeks before the procedure. Obviously its not practical to cut out all sun exposure, but reducing it as much as possible is important for two reasons. First, your skin will darken with more sun exposure and then later absorb more heat from the laser, and secondly it may be more susceptible to burning if you already have a slight sunburn. Also don’t use sunless tanning lotions for the same reasons.
- Check your medications with your Dr before the procedures. Many medications, particularly antibiotics can cause photosensitivity in the skin. What does that mean for you – Burn baby burn!
- Shaving – Even though you should not be waxing, you do need to prep the area by shaving 24-48 hours before the procedure. This will help the laser be more effective by heating a smaller amount of hair rather than wasting energy on heating the full length of the hair when there is no reason to do so.
- Make sure that you remove all makeup, creams, lotions, numbing creams or gels before the procedure. That doesn’t mean you can’t use these products just make sure the area has been thoroughly cleansed before you get started.
- The underarms, bikini area, and lower legs are the most popular areas to receive laser hair reduction. Depending on the size of the area you are doing, and the area its in, you might expect to have some pain during the procedure, and you would be right. There are however a few things that you can do to reduce the pain to a tolerable level. Firstly don’t come in hung over. Believe it or not, this is a common mistake. A hangover will intensify the pain and make the whole procedure much more unpleasant. Secondly you can use a numbing cream or gel ahead of time. We recommend Numbify – a great product with several different lidocaine level choices, and lots of healthy natural ingredients that you will love. But we will get back to numbing products a little later in the article – Just make sure you allow enough time for it to kick in, and thoroughly clean off any residue your numbing product may leave before getting started.
- Discontinue using perfume or deodorant products for 48 hours after the procedure as this can cause irritation. Its also a good idea to take lukewarm rather than hot showers for the first week, and continue to avoid tanning lotions and sun exposure for the two weeks following your procedure.
- If you need to remove hair in between sessions, make sure to shave rather than wax or pluck, you will want those hairs dark and fully rooted for your next session. Make sure that you attend all follow up sessions, otherwise all you will have accomplished is making your hair patchy in a very expensive way.
Choosing whether or not to get laser hair reduction is a very personal choice. Depending on your body and hair types, it may be the right choice for you or not. Make sure to meet with your doctor as they are the best person to provide advice and guidance on this and all cosmetic procedures.
The Stronger the Pain Relief or Numbing the Better
Whether you decide on the laser hair treatments, or stick we strongly believe the best / strongest pain relief for waxing, is Numbify. Their combination of healthy natural ingredients and Lidocaine numbing power can make your treatment a breeze. Numbify is known for being the strongest numbing cream in side by side testing against any of their competitors, and being best rated by many reviews, and you don’t have to worry about putting cheap dangerous filler ingredients into your skin!