Hair Removal Basics

Hair removal is, by far, the most common cosmetic laser procedure performed. Because of its popularity,

Hair removal is, by far, the most common cosmetic laser procedure performed. Because of its popularity, we’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts that includes prepping tips and post care instructions. Learn why providers need the skin to be untanned for optimal results and who should not get treatments.

What Is Hair Removal?

PalomarAs always, let’s start with the basics. Many people believe that after one treatment of laser hair removal, the hairs will be permanently gone. There are actually three wrong statements in the previous sentence.
1. It typically takes at least 6-8 treatments to see a significant difference in hair removal. They should initially be spaced about 4-6 weeks apart.

2. Laser is not the only way to remove hair. In fact, IPL has been noted by some experts to be a better option, especially for darker skin types.

3. Treated hairs will never be permanently gone. The FDA has approved certain hair removal machines to permanently reduce hair growth. This means that while treated areas will have a significant reduction in hairs, the hairs are not gone forever.

Best and Worst Candidates

The ideal hair removal candidate is someone with light-colored skin and coarse, dark hair. Because the light emitted from the machine picks up on anything with color, people with a tan or darker skin have to be treated with more caution and they may require more sessions. Other people who can benefit from hair removal treatments include:

1. People suffering from psuedofolliculitis barbae. Primarily affecting African Americans, this condition is where coarse hairs begin to curl underneath the skin before breaking the surface. This can cause extreme inflammation, pain, and scarring.


2. Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The hormonal imbalances associated with this condition causes excessive hair growth called hirsutism. These hairs have male characteristics – thick, dark, and strong.


3. Individuals prone to ingrown hairs. Much like psuedofolliculitis barbae, these hairs start to curl and grow back towards the follicle. They can be very painful and may become infected if not treated.

ingrown hair

On the other side of the spectrum, there are some people who should not get hair removal treatments. These include:

1. People who have been on Accutane or Isotretinoin in the past 6 months. The medication makes the skin extremely sensitive, and even an otherwise conservative setting may actually burn the skin.

2. Women who are pregnant. Breastfeeding is okay, but don’t take any chances if you’re pregnant.

3. Individuals who have ever received gold treatments. The reaction of the laser with gold salts can cause a dermatological condition called chrysiasis, where the skin can turn an ashy gray or blue color.


4. People who suffer from certain medical illnesses such as lupus or light-induced seizures.

How To Prepare

Getting the most out of your treatment depends not only on the provider and the settings that are chosen, but also how well patients take care of their skin beforehand. Below is a guideline to help you prepare for your next session.

3 weeks before:
– Stop waxing and tweezing the areas to be treated. Shaving is okay.

2 weeks before:
– Avoid all types of tanning: sun exposure, spray tans, tanning lotions.

3 – 5 days before:
– Stop using retinol, Retin-A and hydroquinone.
– Begin anti-viral medication to prevent a cold sore outbreak, if necessary.

1 day before or day of:
– Try to exfoliate the areas to be treated, either with a scrub or loofah. Do NOT scrub too harshly.
– Shave areas thoroughly.

1 – 2 hours before:
– You may take over-the-counter pain relief medication, if you desire. Some examples include Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, or Ibuprofen. Just be aware that redness post-treatment may last a few hours longer than normal.

After The Treatment

Knowing what to expect after your treatment is just as important as how to prepare for it. Here are a few points you should be aware of.

1. Redness, tenderness, itching and swelling for a few hours after the procedure are completely normal and should be expected. Hydrocortisone cream can help reduce these symptoms. Avoiding any type of heat such sun exposure, saunas, hot tubs, and exercising will also help the skin to calm down faster.

2. The hairs, especially thick ones, will appear to grow like normal after the procedure. However, most of the hairs are “dead” and simply need to be expelled from the skin. After about 2-3 weeks, those hairs will eventually fall out. In the meantime, you can shave the treated areas as often as you like.

3. The most important thing to do is avoid the sun. Not only will dark skin make the hairs more difficult to treat in future sessions, but the heat will irritate the already treated skin. Yet another reason to use sunscreen!

We hope this post helps you have a better understanding on hair removal. But if you have any other questions, please let us know below. You can also find even more information by clicking here.

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