Throughout the course of my career I have understood the importance of transparency. In sharing my experiences, I hope to dispel the shame or embarrassment we all feel when it comes to the health and beauty care of our bodies. There is not one body or skin issue that I would shy away from discussing with practically anyone. This may come from my years of performing Brazilian waxes and the trust built during that moment of vulnerability, or that I have been in the beauty industry long enough to know that all women have the same gripes and body concerns.
All women are struggling or dealing with health or beauty issues that they believe no one else is facing. Unwanted hair is a very common issue. Recently I went through a series of laser hair removal treatments for hair on my chin. This unsightly hair appeared several years ago and has added at least 15 minutes to my daily routine. After a while I began to feel like this was something I was not going to accept anymore and began to do my research.
What is Laser Hair Removal and How Does it Work?
I am fairly sure everyone is now familiar with the term “laser hair removal” but may be unaware of exactly what it entails. Laser hair removal is a medical procedure in which a trained technician uses a machine, emitting an intense short burst of light that targets the hair deep within the follicle. The intense heat created by the laser light damages hair and prevents growth. Laser hair removal is done within a series of treatments, anywhere from three to six weeks apart (as determined by your technician), over the course of several months.
Who is an Ideal Candidate for Laser Hair Treatment?
While laser technology is continuously advancing, the laser is attracted to and is targeting pigment within the hair. This makes myself the ideal candidate, as I am so pale that my fair skin is practically see-through and I have very dark hair. You do not need to be as fair as me for laser hair removal to work; you just need the hair that is to be treated darker than the surrounding skin. Subsequently, if the hair you want removed is blonde, you will need to find a method other than laser.
What Else to Consider Prior?
If the hair you want removed is a new and unusual growth, especially on your face or neck, you need to first see your primary care physician to rule out other underlying health issues like hormone imbalances.
How to Prepare for Laser Hair Removal
Avoid UV exposure whether from the sun or indoor tanning for four weeks prior and post treatment. A tan is the skin’s own immune system response in which cells darken in pigmentation to protect against further UV damage. Remember the laser is attracted to pigmentation!
Because the laser works by targeting the pigment deep within the root of the hair, you need the unwanted hair to be present. That means you must stop all forms of epilation (removal of hair by the root, e.g.: waxing, tweezing and threading) weeks in advance. This also means you will have to shave the area for the entire treatment time. For me, this meant putting down the tweezers and having to shave my face. Honestly, shaving for the first several weeks had me physiologically devaluing myself. I had an overwhelming feeling of being less feminine, but this was something I just had to work through and reassure myself that it was temporary and that in the end, the results would be worth it.
Avoid harsh skincare products before treatment. Keep your skincare regiment simple the night before and the morning of. My face wash of choice prior to a laser treatment is ACURE’s Sensitive Facial Cleanser
. This non-foaming cleanser has Chamomile as the first ingredient. Its formulation is very calming and anti-inflammatory.
Head to your appointment with a makeup free face. A simple SPF is the only product you should be wearing to your appointment. Derma E antioxidant Natural Sunscreen Oil-free Face Lotion
is a perfect choice. This contains the physical sunscreen Zinc oxide, which is a known anti-inflammatory.
What to Expect During Treatment:
When you meet with your technician for the first time, they will have you fill out a comprehensive health evaluation sheet. At the beginning of each and every appointment your technician will ask if there have been any changes in your health, how you felt after your last treatment and whether or not you have been in the sun. You are only doing a disservice to yourself if you do not answer these questions honestly.
Both you and your technician will wear protective eyewear during the laser treatment.
A very common question regarding laser hair removal is whether or not it hurts. The best way to describe the feeling is that of a very hot rubber band snapping against your skin. I found that this uncomfortable sensation dissipated, overtime as the treatments go on and there is less hair.
After your treatment, expect mild redness or sensitivity. For me this only lasted about 20 minutes post treatment.
Avoid heavy makeup, harsh scrubs or chemical exfoliants on the treatment area for 24 hours. My favorite go-to product immediately post treatment is Wilma Schumann Soothing & Balancing Toner
. The refreshing mist calms irritated skin, is alcohol free and contains nourishing plant botanicals.
The results from my laser series are amazing. My morning routine of plucking and searching for unwanted hairs is no more. My only complaint is that I did not have laser hair removal sooner!
Blog Written by askderm's in-house Esthetician
Chantal Monique is a NYS licensed Esthetician and Makeup Artist. She has 9 years experience in skin care and makeup artistry. With the unique combination of her education as well as the desire to help people feel beautiful, Chantal provides expert skin care knowledge for our customers.