Perhaps you’ve considered laser hair removal in the past, or maybe you haven’t. It may seem a little too science fiction to be a good idea, and the price tag is enough to scare off most people. But if you struggle with hair that grows thick and fast, constant razor burn, and ingrown hairs, then it might be time to delve a little deeper into the process and weigh the benefits against the negative pre-conceived notions you might hold about laser hair removal.
What is laser hair removal?
Hair growth occurs in cycles, and not every follicle goes through each cycle at the same time and at the same speed. Laser technology targets follicles that are about to enter the anagen (active) phase of hair growth, effectively destroying the follicle itself and therefore ending hair growth to a specific area. Laser treatment takes several processes to achieve results because of this growth cycle and must be spaced out by 4-6 weeks, start to finish. You’re looking at a few months to complete treatment.
It’s long been said that laser removal was most effective on lighter skin that grew darker hair, but advancements in the technology are yielding results for darker skin now as well. The laser itself looks for pigment in the skin to target. That being said, lasers still only work on dark hair; blonde, gray, red, and white hair aren’t ideal for laser hair removal. Light forearm hair and facial “peach fuzz” growth might slow down with laser treatment, but the results will be disappointing when compared to other areas.
There are affordable options.
Groupon has been a game changer for those seeking laser hair removal. Buying your treatment packages through Groupon usually delivers at least a 50% discount on the total cost, and sometimes even more. Triple check the fine print though, as the clinic offering the discount might limit each patient to only one Groupon purchase. This is especially important if you’re in an area that might not have many laser hair removal technicians with offers through Groupon. You’ll want to decide exactly what you want to treat before buying a package, so we would recommend starting with the largest areas first to capitalize on the savings in case you’re limited to only one discounted purchase. If you know you want to treat your underarms and upper lip, definitely spend a little extra to take care of the larger area first.
Groupon will allow you to buy treatments on a small, medium, large, or extra large area, so you’ll need to check the spa or clinic’s website to see how they define the sizing of each treatment area before you purchase. For example, your bikini line might be a medium treatment area while a full Brazilian will be an extra large treatment area. Never rely on Groupon’s sizing list — always check their website yourself!
Make sure you are not on any restricted medication.
While you’re already on your clinic’s website, take a look at their new patient forms. There will be a list of medications such as antibiotics, topical solutions, and birth control that your particular practitioner will need to know if you are on. If you are currently on an antibiotic regimen, you might want to wait before purchasing laser hair removal. There are a number of chemical compounds that make skin sensitive to laser exposure and can cause pigmentation abnormalities or even blisters and burns. Anything that makes your skin sensitive to sun exposure can react negatively to laser treatment, so be 100% honest with your technician about medications you are taking.
Keep the timing in mind.
The last thing to consider before typing out the numbers on your debit card is the timing of your treatment. It will take several months to complete and you will want to avoid sun exposure as much as possible during this time for all of the aforementioned reasons. So if your desire is hairless legs, starting treatment at the beginning of short-shorts season will not be ideal. For all intents and purposes, fall and winter are the best times to receive laser hair removal on most treatment areas.
What to know prior to your first appointment
Everyone always asks: Does it hurt? Well, yes and no. It isn’t agonizing, but it doesn’t feel awesome either. The pain is often compared to being popped with a thin rubber band or the shock you feel when you’re loaded up with static electricity and touch something. As they say though, beauty is pain. If you’ve ever waxed or tweezed hair from your body then you can easily handle the discomfort of laser hair removal. The appointment itself will likely last well under 30 minutes, so it’s over before you know it!
Your technician will tell you to shave the night before or morning of your appointment and this is incredibly important! Do NOT wax the hair though, remember that the laser is seeking pigment within your follicles to target! Do not skip over this step or you will have basically wasted an entire treatment. Soak in the tub, exfoliate, shave everything completely bare, and then shave it again.
Aside from the mild pain of the actual laser zapping away your hair follicles, the other bit of discomfort you might experience with treatment is stripping down in front of a stranger. If you want hairless lady parts, you’re going to need to square away with your shyness before getting to your appointment. Remember, these are licensed professionals and this is as normal to them as going to the ATM or parallel parking. You have no reason to be self conscious! If you’ve got some nerves though, avoid caffeine prior to treatment to ease those jitters. Opt for some calming tea or pick up a bottle of Ashwagandha from your health food store — the Ayurvedic adaptogen will help to settle your nerves and is very inexpensive.
After you’ve survived your first treatment, you might be tempted to trash your razors and empty your can of shaving cream down the sink — you’ve finally entered into a hairless existence! Not so fast though, as you’re not going to see results for a little while. You can expect to go through two or three rounds of treatment before you see a noticeable reduction in hair growth. You can’t really speed up the process, but if you believe you can handle a more intense laser during treatment then by all means speak up! Your higher pain tolerance will be rewarded by a more effective treatment.
How to prolong the results
During your treatment period, exfoliate and shave the area every couple weeks to encourage the hair to attempt to grow. The healthier and more active the follicle, the easier it will be for the laser to target. You also need to track which areas are still growing quickly so that you can communicate this information to your technician on your next visit. Again, avoid waxing and tweezing your treatment area even in the weeks between your appointments.
After your treatments have ended, there are a few things you will want to avoid in order to ensure your results are long lasting. If you take hair, skin, and nail supplements like Biotin, you might want to stop during and after treatments. While they help to grow lustrous hair on your head, they’re definitely stimulating hair growth all over too. You might undermine your treatments if you begin taking hair growth supplements after treatment has ended, so consider Omega 3 Fish Oils and Zinc instead . They will not stimulate new hair growth, but they will support healthy cell regeneration and inner hydration which are both beneficial to existing hair.
In the same regard, if you are considering switching birth control or undergoing any hormonal treatments, you will need to ask your OBGYN about the potential side effect of hair growth. Obviously, abstention from medication that is necessary for your health because it might interfere with your laser hair removal isn’t something we would at all advise, but if you have other options without these side effects it is worth considering.
When it comes to forking over a chunk of cash as an investment into your personal appearance or well-being, there are a lot of factors to consider, and something like laser hair removal might seem gratuitous on paper. But the amount of time and money you will save by no longer needing to shave an area of your body is considerable, as the cost of a year’s worth of razors is typically higher than laser treatments, assuming you are using quality blades. The argument for laser hair removal that we would make above the monetary one is this: investing in yourself and spending money on things that are beneficial to your self-confidence are extremely important practices.