So you are done with all the usual shaving frustrations, from shaving bumps to razor rash, and finally decided to go for your first laser hair removal – congratulations! You’re now a step nearer to achieving hair-free days without the pain and blood.
However, you’ve been hesitant about going for this treatment for a long time because you’re so unsure about what it really entails. After all, laser light does not sound like the safest thing to direct at your underarm or even face, and you don’t know whether the results are as good as you hope.
Before you book your first laser hair removal session, we recommend that you read our comprehensive guide to laser hair removal, where we share everything important that you should know about this long-term option for removing unwanted body hair.
1. It’s not as painful as you think it is
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For those who are new to the term, laser hair removal is essentially the process of hair removal by exposing your skin to pulses of laser light that destroy the hair follicles.
The mention of ‘laser light’ may be enough to frighten some people off – it definitely sounds painful enough to us!
Fortunately, it is not quite as torturous as it sounds. Most people who have undergone the treatment describe it as a quick and sharp pain, which you may find more painful on thinner skin areas such as near your nose and chin. While it differs from place to place, technicians usually use ice to help numb the area before and after the laser treatment and some other cooling mechanism after zapping the hair follicles so you get instant relief.
According to the founder of Derma di Colore, Carlos A. Charles, M.D., the process also gets progressively less painful as treatments continue and the hair becomes finer – so don’t give up on laser hair removal just yet!
2. Laser hair removal also removes ingrown hair
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Besides removing hairs that have sprouted out in unwanted places, laser hair removal also has other surprising benefits, including reducing ingrown hairs and reducing irritation of the skin.
How does it manage to get rid of a problem as pesky as ingrown hairs? Experts say that this is possible because the treatment actually encourages hair to grow straight up to the surface instead of curling back or growing sideways into the skin.
Without ingrown hairs, you can soon say goodbye to folliculitis and razor bumps as well!
3. A full-body laser hair removal treatment is not advisable
There are hair removal salons that offer full-body laser hair removal treatments, and these certainly sound very enticing – after all, why stop at removing the hair on your underarms when you could have smooth limbs as well, right?
However, some experts have recommended that you only target one particular area at a time during each session, the reason being that there’s only a certain amount of cosmetic laser light and heat that your body should safely absorb each session. Although the skin is usually much less sensitive to laser light than the eye, excessive exposure to ultraviolet light from any source (laser or non-laser) can cause short- and long-term effects similar to a sunburn – ouch!
4. Shave the area before going for the session
Unlike waxing, which works by removing existing hair on your body, you must shave off any hair on the area that the laser lights will be focused on.
The laser light reacts with hair on the skin’s surface – that can cause some irritation, as well as give off a dreaded smell of burnt hair. We are quite sure you don’t want to come out of your laser hair removal session with a burning smell!
5. Your technician will provide a test patch on your skin at your first appointment
Worried about your sensitive skin reacting badly to laser hair removal?
Your concerns are valid: the sad truth is that not everyone’s skin reacts well to cosmetic laser treatments, and certain skin types are more prone to pigmentation problems, discolouration, even scarring!
Hence, it is important that you get the technician to conduct a small patch test first to see if there is any undesirable skin reaction before proceeding with the treatment.
6. A laser hair removal session is pretty fast
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We know you’re a busy-bee and have no time to sit through three hours of zapping hair follicles, so here’s the good news: a typical laser hair removal session only lasts between twenty minutes to an hour!
That being said, the actual duration really depends on the area you’re having treated. Underarms and bikini lines tend to be quick treatments, but other areas like the legs or back can take a little longer, so do take that into account when you are scheduling your appointment.
7. You can’t go to the gym, sauna, or take a hot shower after your session
This could either be a reason to celebrate or something you dread: you’re advised against hitting the gym and taking a hot shower (yes, we feel you) after your laser hair removal session.
The heat from the laser light stays in your skin for 24 hours, and if you don’t want to run the risk of creating a lovely warm environment for bacteria to multiply and break you out, it’s best that you avoid accumulating more heat on your body.
8. You have to avoid staying under the sun for long hours
Your dermatologist can advise what’s best for you, but the general advice is to skip the beach and tanning salons for a period of time after your laser hair removal. If you have a tan, you’ll also need to wait till it fades before you can start your treatment.
You also need to pay special care to your daily sun exposure, so be sure so slather on your sunscreen religiously and avoid staying out for long hours out in the sun.
9. Don’t wax or pluck your hair after the session
This is a common question that people ask: am I allowed to wax the same area after my laser hair removal session? The answer is no.
Laser hair removal deactivates the hair follicle by cutting the blood supply and making the hair follicle weaker. When you wax the hair growth, you are pulling the follicle straight from the root instead, and this makes your treatment less effective.
10. It takes time to see full results
You may dream of being completely smooth and hairless after your first laser hair removal session, but here’s the hard truth: your dream won’t come true.
It actually takes two or three weeks after your first treatment to see a difference, and 8 -12 treatments of laser light to get the full result. You also have to be really regular with your appointments because your hair follicles are all at different stages of their growth, so you want to make sure each one has a chance to get zapped.
11. It could make your hair grow longer… sometimes
Unfortunately, it is true: particular types of hair can be stimulated into growing longer and thicker. There is a condition known as paradoxical hypertrichosis, which is a rare risk of laser hair removal, where the hair can grow back thicker after laser.
Another hypothesised reason for the backfiring of laser hair removal is low-fluence (low energy) treatment: when hair is heated to 65 degrees, the hair follicle germ cells are destroyed, but anything below this could contribute to more growth.
If you are concerned about the risk of paradoxical hypertrichosis, make sure to speak to a dermatologist before you book your appointment. You may also check with the hair removal salon more details regarding the technology used in your treatment.
12. You might also need to go back for top-up treatments
Just as it takes time for most of your hair follicles to weaken and drop off, it also takes time to make sure that, well, the hair that has been zapped off doesn’t grow back.
Most people report 90 per cent permanent reduction in hair growth but fluctuating hormones can make hair grow back, especially if you have high levels of androgen (male hormones) in your body.
13. Doing laser hair removal on your face requires you to make changes to your skincare routine
While doing laser hair removal treatment on your face is possible, it means that you have to take extra caution when doing aftercare for what is arguably one of the most sensitive parts of your body.
Scrubs, glycolic acid, and retinol creams should be avoided two days before and after treatment. For two weeks before and after laser, you must also avoid chemical peels and tanning. Beauty junkies who have undergone laser hair removal highly recommend that you use more face mists and add extra moisturisers to your regime right after the treatment as well, because you will feel your skin becoming drier.
While laser hair removal is very effective as it can alter the hair follicle itself, it needs to target the hairs one by one and tends to be more expensive.
If you prefer a more affordable option that can work just as well, you may consider opting for IPL instead.
if you dislike having to buy packages and book appointments, you can just walk into Japan IPL Express and get an IPL treatment done on any area, at any time, and at any outlet. This popular IPL salon clinched the title of Best IPL Salon in 2019, so you know that you’ll be in good hands here.
Plus, they are offering all customers free IPL shots – new customers get 40, and existing customers get 20!
Now that you are armed (no pun intended) with the necessary knowledge and free IPL shots, there’s no reason to hesitate anymore. You don’t have to book an appointment – all you have to do is claim your free IPL shots here!