Making the choice to sign up for laser hair removal is a big one because of the time and cost involved. We interrogated the beauty gurus at Placecol to find out what you need to know before you visit the salon.
1. You need to shave
That’s right. It might seem weird to people who are used to waxing, but if you’re having laser hair removal, you need to shave the area before. Apparently the best time to shave is around 8 hours before your treatment but the day before should also be fine. Basically you need to shave as close to your appointment as possible, but also give your skin some time to recover from being shaved so it isn’t too sensitive.
2. Stop other treatments before and during laser hair removal
Ideally you shouldn’t wax, pluck, use depilatory creams or bleach your hair 3 to 6 weeks before your first treatment, and during the rest of your treatment period. If there aren’t any hairs present (because they’ve been waxed) or if the hairs are light (because they’ve been bleached) the laser won’t work on them.
3. Stay out of the sun
You do not want to undergo laser hair removal on sunburned skin! In fact, it’s best if you have no tan at all (including making your skin darker using self-tan creams). Try and keep the area out of the sun for at least 4 weeks before the treatment and apply sunblock to exposed areas (which you should be doing anyway…). After your laser treatment, you also need to be cautious about sun exposure.
4. It might not be pain free
Although a lot of systems are advertised as pain free, different people experience laser hair removal differently. You might experience anything from slight discomfort (often described as an elastic band snapping on your skin) to pain that’s really quite intense. Generally people with darker skin and people with coarser hair experience more pain.
5. Consider taking pain precautions
If you have sensitive skin and you’re worried about the pain, you can take an oral anti-inflammatory about 30 minutes before your appointment (most therapists recommend ibuprofen). You can even apply a numbing cream to the area before your appointment — if you’d like to go that route, chat to your pharmacist about the best options. Make sure you read the directions on the tube — you need to apply the cream so that it kicks in during your appointment.
6. Book your appointments around your period
Laser hair removal can be more painful if you undergo the treatments around the time you’re menstruating. Do what you can to arrange your appointments around your period, but if you can’t avoid going at that time of the month, seriously consider your pain management options.
7. You must stick to your schedule
Depending on the treatment area, you have to go for repeat treatments every 4-8 weeks. It’s really important that you don’t push your appointments out because the schedule is based on the hair-growth cycle. If you HAVE to miss an appointment, phone your therapist to check when you should reschedule it for, but do what you can not to mess up the schedule.
8. You’ll need more than one session
Placecol told us that most people require 6 to 8 sessions to achieve desired results, but some lucky people may need as few as 4. The good news is that you will start to see hair reduction from your very first session.
9. It’s really, really quick
The time it takes for a treatment depends on the size of the area and your skin type, but the sessions are usually super fast. For instance, if you have fair skin and you’re getting laser hair removal done on your underarms, the laser will only need to be active for 40 seconds and you can go straight back to work afterwards.
10. It doesn’t work for everyone
There’s good news and there’s bad news: the Soprano ICE laser used at Placecol salons is safe to use on all skin types and colours, so laser hair removal is an option for you if you have dark skin! But it won’t work on hair that is blonde, grey or red.
11. You’ll start seeing results soon, but your hair won’t ‘disappear’
How does laser hair removal work? The laser works by damaging the hair follicle; it doesn’t actually do anything to the hair in that follicle though. After your first appointment you will leave with exactly the same amount of hair that you came in with. But after a few days, the targeted hairs that were in the active growth cycle will stop growing and fall out. So you will experience hair reduction from your first session.
12. It will be so, so worth it
A quick internet search will show you just how much people love the results from laser hair removal. Most people experience 95% hair removal, and the hairs that remain are usually very fine.
Is laser hair removal permanent? Usually, but not always. Your body could produce more hair follicles that haven’t been lasered, so you might see some new hair growth in a few years. A maintenance treatment every few years should sort that out if it does happen though, so it’s goodbye to waxing, shaving and plucking!