Just a super handy guide on laser hair removal

If you’re over shaving and waxing, this could be the solution

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / March 29 2019

Sick of shaving? We hear you! While it’s a quick and inexpensive option for hair removal, regrowth happens quickly and the process can often wreak havoc on your skin if you’re not doing it correctly (find out how to shave your legs properly here!). If this sounds like you, it could be time to consider laser hair removal.

Laser hair removal is an in-salon treatment (suitable for both men and women) that basically involves using pulses of highly concentrated light to target hair follicles. The pigment in the hair (known as melanin) absorbs this light and destroys/stunts the growth of the hair, without harming the surrounding skin. While multiple treatments are required for the best results, it can lead to long-term hair reduction.

“For a much more permanent solution, laser hair removal is amazing at cutting the number of hairs down long-term. This means that you are always skirt or beach ready,” says dermal therapist Dr Giulia D'Anna from Dermal Distinction.

“The perfect time to consider laser hair removal is as we approach winter. The reason for this is when we laser your skin and hair, we need a little bit of stubble to be showing through. So, when we cover up, we are less worried about ‘growing out’ our leg hair a little for this purpose,” says Dr D’Anna.

But before you jump in and book a treatment, there are a few things you should know before having laser hair removal treatment.

How does laser hair removal work?

“Lasers used for hair removal are calibrated to a specific wavelength (light spectrum) that seeks out the hair follicle and destroys the cells required for the hair to regenerate,” explains cosmetic nurse Kelly George from Kelly George Aesthetics. Basically, during an in-salon treatment, the skin specialist will move a device over your skin, and quick little zaps of light will be emitted. After each session, the treated hairs may continue to grow but they will fall out on their own. 

Is laser hair removal safe? 

“Laser hair removal is very safe when provided by a qualified medical professional or experienced laser technician with a device approved for use in Australia,” says George. “It is also important to seek treatment within the confines of an appropriate setting, such as a medical cosmetic clinic or a dedicated laser clinic. Most of the potential risks associated with laser hair removal occur when unqualified therapists attempt to treat incorrect skin types on cheap devices purchased from overseas,” she adds.

Are there any potential side effects?

In terms of laser hair removal side effects, you’ll usually experience redness and perhaps slight irritation in the area post-treatment. “More infrequently, a follicular response that presents as tiny, itchy bumps on the skin may occur,” says George.

“More serious risks (that can be avoided by selecting a reputable clinic), include burns and permanent discolouration of the skin. Clients with a European background should also be careful of the potential risk of increasing hair growth. This is something that should be discussed during a consultation before you have the treatment.” 

“A great dermal therapist will avoid doing laser hair removal whilst you have a tan, which is common in summer, so that we do not heat the skin,” adds Dr D’Anna. A tan, regardless of whether it is real or fake, can make skin more sensitive to the heat emitted during laser hair removal. Find out how long you have to wait after developing a tan, and when you should stop fake tanning, here.

Does laser hair removal hurt?

“Laser hair removal is a very comfortable procedure, tolerated well by most people. Areas near bone, such as the shins and pubic bone, can be slightly more tender. The pain reduces with each session as the hair follicles become finer,” says George.

What body parts can be treated?

The good news? You can treat pretty much any area - whether you’re looking for full leg, underarm or a full body hair removal treatment. “Any area with unwanted hair can be treated. At Kelly George Aesthetics, we have treated all areas of the body and face for both men and women.”

How many sessions are usually required?

Laser hair removal is a process, and multiple sessions are generally required for long-term hair reduction. “A reduction in hair is usually noticeable after three treatments, but we generally recommend six to 10 sessions, four weeks apart, for best results,” says George. “Some hormonal areas, like the Brazilian, will likely need touch-up appointments once every three to six months.” 

Why so many sessions? Well, it’s all to do with the hair growth cycle. Your hair has three growth phases, and in order for laser hair removal to work, your hair needs to be in the growing stage (known as anagen). This is when the hair follicle contains the most pigment. However, not all areas of hair on your body grow at the same rate, which is why multiple treatments are required.

Are results permanent?

So, does laser hair removal work? Well, it’s not 100 per cent permanent, but it does produce near-permanent results. Usually hair removal will offer 70 to 90 per cent hair reduction. “While the hair is significantly reduced and for some people permanent, many clients require ‘spot checks’ every six to 12 months for small areas of growth that may reoccur,” says George.

It’s also important to note that different hair colours will obtain different results. Dark hair is usually the most responsive to light energy as it contains a higher concentration of melanin.

“The most important thing is that laser targets the colour in the hair and hair follicle. The whiter the skin and the darker the hair, the better the result for laser,” says Dr D’Anna.

How much does laser hair removal cost?

You’ll need to be prepared to spend a decent amount of money for laser hair removal, but it’ll definitely save you time in the long run – so look at it as an investment. “Most clinics offer packages which further saves the client money. At my clinic, we offer six sessions of full leg, Brazilian and under arms for $950, which is in line with many places,” says George. 

Can you do it yourself at home?

Yes, laser hair removal at home is a thing! However, most of these devices actually use intense pulsed light (IPL) technology instead of laser, which means that they aren’t as strong as the laser machines used in a professional clinic (read up on everything you need to know about IPL here). Before you decide to go the DIY route, we would recommend thoroughly researching the device and making sure it’s suitable for your skin type. Find out more about at-home hair removal devices here

Want to find out some of the best facial hair removal products? Find out which ones scored the best reviews here.

Have you tried laser hair removal before? What are your thoughts on the treatment? Let us know in the comment section below.

Main image credit: @georgiafowler

Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.