Thinking about getting laser hair removal? Here’s everything you need to know
If you know the gals of the Mirra team, you probably know that we’ve all dealt with our fair share of hairy situations growing up...pun def intended. Fun fact: we were all made fun of at least once for having excessively hairy/big brows. My traumatizing experience? A guy asked me why my brows were so big in the 7th grade, so naturally, I went home and shaved them down. But... jokes on him because now it seems like everyone wants big brows. I’ve since learned to embrace my brows, but nevertheless, I’ve always had an interest in grooming and, more specifically, hair removal.
Let me preface this by saying, no one should feel pressured to remove hair if they don’t want to! With that being said, I would be lying if I didn’t admit it’s an awesome perk to have a sister who just so happens to do permanent hair removal for a living (#blessed). Which is why I’ve decided to consult with sis, aka Andrea Harris, a NC Licensed Laser Hair Removal and Electrolysis Specialist, to bring you a comprehensive laser hair removal guide.
Laser vs. electrolysis
If you’ve done some research on permanent hair removal already, you probably know you have a couple of viable options: electrolysis or laser hair removal. While both offer alluring benefits for their respective candidates, one of the biggest differences is that laser is permanent hair reduction, while electrolysis is permanent hair removal. The actual techniques greatly vary, too. Andrea says, “Electrolysis needs to be done on visible hair that has grown beyond the skin and it can be done on virtually any hair and skin type. On the other hand, laser has the ability to penetrate into the skin tissue where the root of the hair is.” And while laser can be successful for some, everyone is not an ideal candidate and should explore electrolysis, instead.
How does it work?
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t invest in laser hair removal if you’re unable to commit to going for a series of treatments (around 6-8 per area). Depending on the area, you should schedule your sessions for 4-10 weeks in between.“The laserdisc converts light energy into heat, which kills hair that fits within the parameters of a laser client. Unfortunately, laser is attracted to color, so even though there is equipment designed for darker skin types, You cannot guarantee the same results as at the end of the day, the laser is attracted to color and you have more skin than hair,” she says. The pain level varies from person to person, but can be compared to the feeling of a rubber band snapping on skin. Pricing varies depending on the experience of the technician, your location and the area you’d like to treat.
Apply a numbing cream, as provided by your specialist, 15 minutes to an hour before your appointment to help with the pain.
Optionally, you can take Tylenol or Advil for the pain about 20-30 minutes before your appointment, too.
Be sure to drink adequate amounts of water in the days leading up to your appointment.
Avoid/limit caffeine consumption on the day of your session.
If you get laser on your face, ice the area for about 10-15 minutes at a time after you get your treatment to help dissipate the heat. It’s not absolutely necessary to ice other areas, but you can.
Avoid heavy sunlight for three weeks after your treatment. Always wear adequate sun protection afterwards.
Use soothing creams like Aquaphor or even natural aloe to supplement the healing process.
For hair removal in the interim, rely on shaving (yes, even your face) as waxing can reverse the success of your laser treatment because it can stimulate hair growth. *However, this is a controversial topic for the industry as some do believe waxing is okay in between sessions.
Normally, you can expect to see swelling go down anywhere between a few hours or a few days, depending on how sensitive someone’s skin is. There is typically no downtime required to heal and you can resume all activities, like work, right after, but it’s important to note that your skin may be red, sensitive to the touch, and likely swollen. To help with recovery, stay out of the sun as best you can and abide by whatever post treatment suggestions your technician recommends.
Typical permanent results are seen after six to eight sessions, but can vary, especially if you have a hormonal condition that contributes to hair growth. Andrea says, “I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and a side effect of that can be excessive hair growth. If you have PCOS or another hormonal component that contributes to hair growth, you may need more sessions to treat the hair. However, hair sheds in 10-21 day cycles depending on follicle depth.”
When it comes to ensuring the best results, credentials are imperative for the protection of your skin and your wallet. Andrea says, “Make sure you work with someone who is licensed. Many places that offer laser are commission based and will treat you even though you are not an ideal candidate for laser. Also, some technicians could be using a $5,000 piece of equipment that wouldn’t be considered a true laser versus a $105,000 laser hair removal machine.” So when it comes to these types of services, do your research to make sure you’re in good hands before taking the dive!
BY KIMBERLY ARNOLD