The lowdown on laser hair removal

Keen to be rid of unwanted body hair but tired of constant shaving or unsightly razor bumps? Laser hair removal could be the solution. Here’s what to know.

While it’s natural to have body hair, some of us choose to remove ours for practical, cultural or aesthetic reasons.

But with hair growing at a rate of around 0.35mm a day, the results of traditional hair removal methods, such as shaving, can be short-lived.

If you’re tired of picking up the razor for the second time this week – or picking at unsightly ingrown hairs – laser hair removal may be the ultimate long-term solution for you.

Here, our experts explain how laser treatment can help you deal with this hairy problem.

What is laser hair removal?

Laser hair removal is a procedure that helps the reduction of hair growth, Global Skin Clinics director Sara Scheiner says.

“It also helps with ingrown hairs within the skin, creating a smoother appearance,” Sara says.

While laser hair removal is not a permanent solution to removing unwanted hair, it can reduce the need to shave for a while, she adds.

How does laser hair removal work?

SKYN cosmetic clinic dermal clinician Catherine Lee says laser hair treatment helps to reduce hair growth by exposing the hair follicles to pulses of laser light.

“A laser emits a light that is absorbed by the melanin pigment in the hair,” Catherine says.

“This light energy is then converted to heat, which damages the hair follicle to inhibit or delay future hair growth.”

Looking to get rid of unwanted hair growth on your underarms or bikini line?

The good news is laser hair removal can be performed on most areas of the body.

“However, laser hair removal is more effective with darker and thicker hair,” Catherine says.

Is laser hair removal safe?

“Laser hair removal is safe and effective for most people when performed by experienced technicians,” Catherine says.

She says while the treatment is usually quite comfortable and quick, you may experience slight discomfort in sensitive areas, such as the underarms and bikini line.

Laser hair removal sessions: What to expect

“Sessions can last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on the areas being treated,” Catherine says.

“Generally, eight to 12 sessions are required, followed by four- to six-monthly maintenance sessions.”

At your first session and before starting your treatment, Sara says your technician may ask if you’ve been on any new photosensitive medications, and confirm which areas you’d like to have lasered. “We’ll ask you to use baby wipes to clean the targeted areas, to remove any excess body lotions on the skin, before proceeding with the laser procedure,” Sara says.

“Gel is also applied onto the skin to help our laser machine glide across the skin better, to make sure we aren’t missing any areas on the body.”

What to do before and after laser hair removal

Pre-session care

Sara recommends shaving the areas you’d like lasered 24 hours prior to your session, and exfoliating the skin to help loosen the hair follicles.

“Make sure not to put any body lotions on the skin before your appointment to prevent skin irritations,” Sara says.

She also recommends keeping out of the sun at least three days before your treatment to prevent getting sunburnt.

Post-session care

Apply cooling post-procedure cream in the mornings and afternoons for up to a week after treatment, Catherine advises.

“You may exfoliate the area to help loosen the treated hairs one to two weeks after your treatment, to speed (up) the falling-out process,” Catherine says.

“Sun exposure must be avoided two weeks after your treatment.”

When should you not get laser hair removal?

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should generally wait until they’ve finished breastfeeding, Catherine advises.

“This also applies if you have a fake tan or any active skin lesions,” Catherine says.

And if you’re sunburnt, Sara adds it’s best to wait until your skin has healed before your laser hair removal procedure.

“This is to prevent causing any more irritation to the skin by putting more heat onto it,” Sara explains.

“However, some of the latest technology – such as our Soprano Titanium machine – may still be safely used on fake and natural tans, (and) all skin tones and hair colours.”

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Written by Melissa Hong.