Preparing for your laser hair removal treatments is reasonably straightforward, but there are some clear dos and don’ts you should be aware of. To understand how to prepare for laser hair removal, first, let’s see how a laser is different from other hair removal methods.
How laser hair removal works
The laser beam is attracted to the dark pigment in hair, with the hair acting as a lightning rod. The laser energy – heat – travels down the hair and overheats the root of the hair, causing it permanent damage so it can no longer produce a hair. The surrounding skin cells are not affected, because the laser is only attracted to the pigment in the hair (which is why bleached, grey or very light hair is not so easy to treat).
Each hair grows and sheds independently of its neighbours. The idea is to disable all the active follicles as they ride out their growth cycle; hence 6-10 appointments are scheduled 6-8 weeks apart.
The cost of laser hair removal will vary depending on the areas requiring treatment – more significant surface area increases the time spent in the clinic, thus the overall cost.
How to prepare for laser hair removal
#1. Stop plucking or waxing and shave instead
Because we require the hair’s length for the laser energy to travel down to the all-important root, the hair should only be shaved off, not pulled out entirely. If you are a waxer, you’ll need to let your hair grow out and then shave it before your appointment.
Long hairs are unhelpful during laser hair removal procedures because the hair on top of the skin can frizzle and burn before the energy reaches the root. Burning hair isn’t a pleasant smell, and doesn’t feel too good either. Skin-level hair, as achieved with shaving, is ideal.
Between treatments, your untreated active hair follicles will still produce hair, so you’ll need to skip waxing or plucking between treatments, using only a razor. ENRICH’s Melbourne clinic suggests you shave the treatment area 24-48 hours before your appointment. If you forget, don’t worry, we will do a quick shave of the area before treatment.
#2. Stay out of the sun
Now that you know that lasers are attracted to pigment, it’s not such a stretch to understand that having tanned skin is bad news for hair removal treatments. Tanned skin can end up discoloured after laser treatments or result in discomfort. We do not advise undertaking treatment if you are excessively tanned or sunburnt.
#3. Don’t apply creams, lotions, make-up, deodorant
Your skin should be clean and free from lotions, creams and other topical beauty applications like makeup. We want nothing except the cooling gel between you and the laser. You may use products on the areas you usually do, for example, underarm deodorant; however, we’ll need to ensure it’s cleaned off before your treatment.
Avoid on the treatment area:
- Topical medication
- Sunscreen (but use the rest of the time!)
#4. On medication or had a skin treatment recently? Check with us first.
Some medications can make your skin extra sensitive to light, so make sure you inform your practitioner of any medicines you use on your skin or take by mouth, even if it seems unrelated. Some key medications can include antibiotics, birth control, and potent acne drugs.
Some skin treatments may cause the skin to become more sensitive, for example, certain chemical peels. Fillers and anti-wrinkle injections may fall into this category too, depending on the area being treated. Check with us first.
None of these medications will stop you from undertaking laser hair removal. Still, your practitioner may need to modify the settings to ensure you are as comfortable as possible.
What to expect during treatments
When you arrive for your appointment, you will go through our pre-treatment questions to make sure it is ok for us to treat your skin. We’ll run through everything that we’ve discussed in these four tips, plus some extras.
What areas to have hair removed from
Treatment areas vary from person to person, and we can treat more than one area in an appointment. A common set of treatments might be the armpits and bikini area, the bikini area and legs (upper or lower or both), or buttocks and back. The only real constraint is the time we book for your session, so it’s best to know what you want before your first appointment so we can allow enough time.
What to do after your treatments
Some people find that laser hair removal causes some redness or slight swelling, which can be quickly resolved by applying ice or letting it settle in a few hours. This reaction is normal and will subside within a few hours.
The area might feel hot because the laser treatment uses thermal (heat) energy. For this reason, it’s best to avoid exacerbating any inflammation with sweaty sports or hot showers or baths.
Use a high SPF sunscreen and avoid sun exposure where possible.