It’s not surprising that laser hair removal is one of the most commonly requested cosmetic treatments in the United States — after all, a good many people have unwanted hair they’d love to get rid of for good.
Whether you’re a woman who’s tired of having to shave every day or a man who’d like nothing more than to have a smooth, hairless back, laser hair removal can reduce or eliminate the considerable amount of time and money you devote to shaving, waxing, plucking, bleaching, or otherwise getting rid of unwanted hair.
At Stoll Dermatology in Beverly Hills, California, we can help you get rid of undesirable facial or body hair for good. Before you book your first appointment, however, there are a few important things you should know.
Laser hair removal works best on dark hair
Laser hair removal is a safe, advanced technology that works by targeting the melanin, or pigments, in your hair. When the laser passes over your skin, it sends pulses of energy directly into each active-growth hair follicle. As the pigments in these follicles absorb the laser’s energy, it effectively switches them off so they no longer produce hair.
Although many lasers can be adjusted to accommodate different hair colors, the treatment generally works best on darker hair, which contains a higher concentration of pigments so it can better absorb the laser’s broad spectrum of energy. It’s typically easier to do away with dark, unwanted chin hairs, for example than the light peach fuzz along the sides of your face.
Laser hair removal works best on light skin
For the same reason that laser hair removal works best on darker hair, it’s also most effective on lighter skin tones. The laser targets melanin, the pigment that gives both your hair and your skin their color.
Although lasers can be set to safely accommodate darker skin tones, they’re not always as effective as lasers designed to target dark hair on lighter skin tones.
If you do have a lighter skin tone, it’s important that your skin isn’t tanned when you undergo laser hair removal — having darker than normal skin increases the risk of inaccurate laser settings, which could damage your skin.
Skip waxing and plucking. Shave
Before any laser hair removal session, you need to prepare the treatment area by shaving. This helps ensure that your skin is as smooth and hair-free as possible so the laser’s energy is sent directly into the follicle.
You can’t pluck or wax the treatment area beforehand because the laser is only effective if there’s a little bit of hair in the follicle. Any hair removal method that pulls hair out at the root, such as tweezing, leaves nothing behind for the laser to target.
Shave the treatment area one or two days before your appointment, or as specifically recommended. If you shave too far ahead of your appointment, too much of the laser’s energy is spent targeting the hair shaft that leads to the follicle, which may lead to less than optimal results.
Winter is an ideal time for laser hair removal
The cold weather months are an ideal time to undergo laser hair removal for several reasons.
First, there are far fewer hours of intense daytime sunlight during the winter. It’s important to wear sunscreen or avoid sun exposure in the weeks before and after a laser hair removal session, but because the sun isn’t out for as long during the winter, you won’t have to worry as much about avoiding it.
Optimal results require several treatments
While many people see noticeable results after just one laser hair removal session, you need multiple treatments to achieve optimal results.
That’s because your hair goes through three phases: growing, resting, and shedding. The laser only targets hair in its active growth phase, so it’s not effective on follicles that are in the resting or shedding phase. To ensure the treatment gets rid of most of the hair in a specific area, schedule multiple laser hair removal sessions over several weeks, as your hair continues through its growth cycle.
Although results vary, most people experience a 10-25% reduction in hair after their first laser treatment and further reductions with each successive treatment. To achieve complete results, you can expect to undergo four to six treatments, with each session scheduled four to six weeks apart.
If you’re ready to ditch your razor for good, we’re ready to help at Stoll Dermatology. Call our office today, or make an appointment online using our convenient booking tool.