Are you considering getting zapped by a laser to remove the hair on your body? Sounds pretty terrifying, right? Before you take the plunge, we’re going to tell you exactly what laser hair removal is, how long the results can last and what you can do to maximise those results.
How does laser hair removal work?
Laser hair removal works by sending light energy down into a hair follicle to destroy it so the hair falls out and can no longer grow there.The light energy is attracted to the melanin in the hair follicle (or the blood vessels in the hair follicle for individuals with dark skin). This means that the skin in the surrounding area is not targeted by the laser and therefore no damage is done to it.
Generally, laser hair removal works best on those who have pale skin and dark hair as this will allow the laser to target the hair follicle easier, but there are many lasers out there that work on all different skin and hair combinations.
How long does laser hair removal last?
One of the most satisfying aspects of laser hair removal is that you’ll see results from your very first session, however, they probably won’t last any longer than 3-4 weeks for your first few sessions. About a week after your laser session, gentle exfoliation of the area will encourage the dead hairs to fall out of the hair follicle leaving you with smooth, hairless skin for a few weeks.
It’s important that you get your laser sessions done every 4 weeks for around the first 4-6 sessions (or as advised by your laser technician). When you start noticing your hair taking longer to grow back you should be able to space these sessions out to 5-6 weeks apart for the remainder of your sessions.
Generally, it takes around 6-10 sessions for your results to become semi-permanent, depending on how stubborn your hair is. You’ll know when the desired result has been achieved because you should only need to go back in every 6-12 months for a touch-up session. Even so, if your hair does grow back after a while it will generally be much lighter and thinner than it was originally so will be a lot less noticeable.
Can I do laser hair removal at home?
Absolutely! If you’re interested in skipping the big bucks you’ll need to fork out to a professional laser clinic and opting for DIY laser sessions, then you’re in luck. There are plenty of effective laser hair removal handsets available on the market right now just waiting to make your dreams come true.
It’s important to note here that most of the handsets you find on the internet will actually use IPL as their form of laser hair removal. IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) is a less targeted and intense form of light energy that works in a similar way to laser light when being used for hair removal. It uses a wider spectrum of wavelengths (colours) than laser but you can definitely still achieve the same semi-permanent results, with most handset manufacturers claiming you’ll see results within about 3-6 months of consistent use. And owning your own laser or IPL hair removal device means touch-ups are literally at the push of a button.
How much does laser hair removal cost?
If you’re looking to have your laser hair removal done in a professional salon, different areas of the body will cost differently to have this done. Smaller areas such as your bikini line and underarms will generally cost less than $50 as a bundle, even less if you can get them on sale. For larger areas such as your legs or arms, these can cost anywhere from around $50-$100.
Whichever areas you choose to have done, simply multiply the total cost of 1 session by about 10 (the most common amount of sessions required to achieve the desired results) and this will give you a guideline of how much money you should expect to pay. For example, 10 sessions at $100 each would cost around $1000 all up. Most professional laser clinics should have a list of their pricing on their website available for the public to view, so you should be able to get a good idea of the cost before you commit.
If you’ve decided to do your own at-home laser hair removal, a good quality device can set you back anywhere from $200-$600. So, if you have a few easy-to-reach, large areas you’re wanting to treat then it might be worth considering purchasing your own handset as it could save you a fair amount of money in the long-run.
The only downside is that the laser technology in the handset (IPL) won’t be as strong as the professional clinic’s lasers so more sessions will be required to achieve the same results. However, quick touch-ups when the hair begins to grow back will be much easier and cheaper for you and you won’t have to worry about booking in and attending appointments just to get them done. This is also a great option for those of us who aren’t comfortable with getting their kits off in front of laser technicians.
How to maximise your laser hair removal results
Now that you’ve invested your money in laser hair removal, whether it be at home or at a salon, we’re going to tell exactly how to maximise the results of your sessions so you can get the most bang for your buck.
Shave before your session
This might seem counterproductive because you’re going to an appointment to have your hair removed in the first place, but you’ll need to shave the areas you’re having treated around 24 hours before your appointment. This is because you want the laser to penetrate as deeply into the hair follicle as possible. The shorter the hair is, the shorter the laser will have to travel to hit its target, meaning that all its power is being concentrated as efficiently as possible for the best results.
After your laser session your skin is going to need a bit of TLC. Many laser salons will recommend their own brand of post-laser balm or moisturiser that’s packed with nutrients and vitamins to replenish and restore the skin after your treatment. However, these can be expensive so a 100% pure aloe vera spray from your local pharmacy will also do the trick. Be sure to spray the treated areas twice a day for at least 5 days after your treatment to avoid your skin becoming dry and damaged.
This is an important one. Around 4-5 days after your treatment, once your skin isn’t feeling raw and irritated, you need to exfoliate the areas gently. This will not only buff off any dead skin cells but it will encourage the damaged and destroyed hairs follicles to release the hairs they’re still holding onto. This will prevent ingrown hairs and improve the look and feel of the areas you’ve had treated.
If you’re going to invest your hard-earned money into laser hair removal, then do it correctly the first time. You need to be consistent with your sessions so that your results are as expected. As mentioned earlier, you’ll need to go about every 4 weeks for the first 4-6 sessions and then when you start seeing results you’ll be able to start spacing out your remaining sessions to about 5-6 weeks apart until your hair stops growing back. If you miss enough sessions you’ll be back to square one and you’ll need to repeat the process (and spend the money) all over again – don’t let that happen!
Choose the right laser clinic or at-home device
When it comes to having lasers penetrating the layers of your skin, you want to be sure you’re receiving the right service whether that be at home or at a salon. Try not to go for the cheapest price when it comes to choosing a laser salon or an at-home laser device. Instead, take a look at reviews from real customers on third party websites to determine the best place to go or the best product to buy. Do as much research as you can beforehand and be sure to ask any burning questions before you make your final purchase.
Inexperienced laser technicians may use an incorrect laser on you that may not be suited to your skin or hair type. This could result in your hair growing back blonde and not being able to be zapped off by a laser in the future. In the same vein, low-quality at-home laser devices could cause burning or even scarring to your skin due to poor quality manufacturing. We recommend stretching your budget as far as possible when it comes to laser hair removal.
If you’re considering laser hair removal, either at home or at a professional laser salon, you can expect semi-permanent results that can give you hairless, smooth skin for up to 6-12 months before you need a touch-up. If you’re sick of shaving, waxing, threading or plucking, then laser hair removal could be the right solution for you to invest in.