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19 February 2015
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
If you’re fed up with shaving and waxing, you might be toying with the idea of laser hair removal treatment. Here’s what you need to know about it and how it can help you achieve fuzz-free beauty.
You already have so many things to do in the day that sometimes remembering to shave or wax can be a nuisance. Plus, it can be a messy experience, totally ruining the spa-like nirvana you hope to achieve in your bathroom after a long, stressful day. Laser hair removal is a good alternative to both shaving and waxing because you get it done safely by a beauty technician and the results are much longer-lasting.
How it Works
During laser treatment, a beam of light penetrates the hair and is absorbed by skin pigment. This beam targets the hair follicle under the skin, heating it up so that its growth is retarded.
Any area on the body can become hair-free with laser hair removal but a series of treatments are required. This is because hair is always in a growth cycle with one of its phases being the resting phase. When hairs are in this phase they won’t be able to be lasered but other, newer hairs that are growing will, so a series of treatments (usually five, but possibly more) are required to get rid of all the hairs in your chosen area. Your appointments should be spread four to six weeks apart for best results.
There are different laser machines used in hair removal. The most common ones are:
1. Alexandrite Laser
This uses a beam of light that stems from an Alexandrite crystal. It’s considered the gold standard of laser treatment for people who have light or olive skin. The reason why this laser is great for such skin types is because its beam of light gets absorbed by the hair follicle and its melanin during treatments. This prevents the surrounding skin from being targeted. The Alexandrite laser isn’t suitable for darker skin tones, though, as the laser destroys melanin and can lead to lighter patches of skin. It is however very effective on hair that’s thinning or freckled when compared to other machines.
2. Nd: YAG Laser
This machine is suitable for people of all skin types, including darker skin tones. Dark skin requires the administration of long-wave lasers, such as those in YAG, as these penetrate deeper while not burning the surrounding skin. The use of carbon in the Nd:YAG laser system adds to its strong absorptive quality. How it works is that a carbon lotion is applied to skin and penetrates the hair follicles, directing the laser to it like a magnet so that hair can be pulled out properly. Larger areas of skin can be accessed effectively with this laser.
3. Diode Laser
With its use of tiny semiconductors that are grouped together to create a beam of light, the diode laser can penetrate deeper into skin. Its wavelength can also be adjusted, making these machines more versatile. If you have thick or coarse hair, diode laser treatment is a highly effective hair removal system. This also makes it a good choice for men who want to get rid of stubborn hair on their backs or chests.
The Beam Benefits
All this talk about light beams penetrating the skin will naturally make you wonder if the process will hurt. During laser hair removal sessions you might feel pinches like a rubber band snapping against your skin or a bit of a burning sensation. The discomfort is worth it, though, because most people do not experience fast hair regrowth afterwards. Added to this, when hair grows back, it is often sparser and fine. How long hair will be removed really varies from one person to the next, but laser hair treatment can remove hair for several months to several years!
Besides for longer-lasting hair removal, another benefit is that laser treatments work fast. Many hair strands can be zapped simultaneously in the blink of an eye so that if you have a small area to de-fuzz it will only take a few minutes to get done.
Prepare for Successful Laser Treatments
In order to get the best results from your laser hair removal treatment, you need to ensure that you have followed some rules prior to having it done. These include:
Not going into your appointment with a tan. Tanning can alter the laser setting and is a common cause of blisters.
Not bleaching hair, using depilatories, waxing or plucking hair for four to six weeks before your treatment. In order for hairs to be lasered effectively, parts of them need to be present on skin. You can shave, but only up to a few days before your treatment.
Letting your technician know if you are on any medication, such as antibiotics. These can have the effect of making you more sensitive to light.
Wearing light-colored underwear if you are having hair removed from your bikini line as the laser will absorb dark colors.
Not using alpha-hydroxy acids or Vitamin A-rich creams on your skin for a few days before getting laser hair removal. These make your skin more sensitive.
No Hair After-Care
You might experience some redness, tingling or even numbness in the area after having laser hair removal. This is normal. Other side-effects are rarer and if they do occur they’re often temporary, such as bruising (if your skin is sensitive) or pigmentation. Look after your skin after treatments by being gentle with it.
Always use sunscreen when heading outside to protect your skin.
Gently exfoliate. This is especially important if you notice tiny dots of hairs cropping up in the area where you had laser treatment. This is just the hair shedding, so use a loofah or washcloth to gently exfoliate it along with dead skin cells.
Getting laser hair removal treatment on your unwanted hair can be a relief – no more shaving, no more waxing! It’s especially a good idea now that summer’s on the way when you want to show off your beautifully smooth skin.
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