Laser Hair Removal Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Are you sick of shaving your legs and armpits every day? Do you have tiny hairs above your upper lip that are making you feel self-conscious? If so, what you may need is a better hair removal technique to give you amazing results that last even longer than what you may think is possible. 

What Is Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal is one of the most frequently performed cosmetic procedures in the United States. It can get rid of hair nearly anywhere on your face or body and eliminate regrowth for months at a time.

Its popularity is easy to understand once you find out how easy and effective it is. The entire process is completely noninvasive, meaning that there are no pricks or pokes to make you cringe.

Today, you can choose either salon treatments or at-home laser treatments (using a device like the Tria Laser 4x). We’ll talk about some of the pros and cons of both options below.

This could be the perfect hair removal option for you if you are sick of waxing, shaving, plucking, and spreading depilatory creams on your skin.

How Does It Work?

Laser treatments rely on a special type of light that is beamed onto your unwanted hair. The light senses the melanin in the hair and travels down the hair shaft into the hair follicle where the follicle is destroyed. It can only treat hair that is actively growing and does not affect hair follicles in the resting phase at all.

This is why laser hair treatments should be viewed as temporary treatments. Although they do not completely stop hair from growing, they do significantly slow down hair regrowth and should eliminate shaving from your future routine.

If you’re curious about how these treatments work, check out this video of a facial laser treatment from SK:N Clinics:

What Are the Benefits?

Thinking about going this route yourself? If so, you will be blown away by the many benefits of laser hair removal.

  • It is precise. Incredibly, the laser beams target only the unwanted hair without harming your skin.
  • It is fast. Lasers can treat a quarter-sized area every second, making most appointments super quick.
  • It is effective. Because it destroys the hair follicle, you can expect long-lasting results.
  • It can be used almost anywhere, including on your face, arms, legs, and your notoriously troublesome bikini area.
  • It does not cause ingrown hairs.
  • It saves you time. Just imagine enjoying a shave-free life!

Is It Really Effective?

If laser hair removal is really so amazing, how come you haven’t heard much about it before now? Does it really work?

The answer is a resounding “yes”!

As long as you go into your appointment knowing that it is not going to give you permanent results, you should be totally happy with how it works. 

Even if you’ve never heard of it before or do not have any friends who have tried it, you should know that it is incredibly popular. In fact, in 2016 alone, there were well over one million laser treatments for hair removal performed in the United States.

Can People of All Skin Tones Use It?

You may have heard some pretty scary stuff about how lasers work on individuals with darker skin tones, and you might be wondering if they are safe for you.

First off, you should know that the lasers used for hair removal are a bit different from those used for other cosmetic treatments. Today’s lasers use the latest technology that can bypass the pigment in your skin and focus on only the pigment in your hair follicles.

Second, you should know that the best and safest laser options for people of color are the Nd:YAG and diode lasers. While the YAG laser is definitely the safest option, a diode laser can work well too as long as your provider slows down the pulses per second. In these cases, you should definitely opt for professional laser treatments in a salon.

Although lasers work best on fair skin tones, it is certainly possible to get great results if you have dark skin. Be sure to check with the salon you will be visiting to find out if they have the best lasers for you, and always opt for working with an experienced professional.

How Does It Compare to Other Hair Removal Methods?

By this point in your life, you have probably tried all sorts of hair removal products and methods with limited results. You might shave daily, wax your upper lip hair every other week, and spend every weekend plucking your chin hairs. We won’t even talk about the dreaded bikini line shaping!

Laser hair removal is similar to all of these other options in that it is still a temporary solution. However, it is different in nearly every other way.

  • It takes up much less of your time.
  • As long as you show up for your scheduled treatment sessions, you can forget about hair removal for the rest of the time.
  • You should eventually see thinner, less pigmented hair with regular treatments.
  • Hair will not grow back for several months.

Of course, there are a few downsides to laser treatments.

  • They cost more.
  • Treatment sessions are usually longer for larger body areas.
  • There could be side effects if you do not see a well-trained professional.

However, most people who try this option will say that laser treatments are far superior to traditional hair removal methods.

Is It Painful?

If you have ever tried waxing or plucking your hair away, you know just how painful hair removal can be. But what can you expect with laser treatments?

While you will feel a bit more than you do with shaving (assuming that you are shaving with a high-quality razor and plenty of shaving cream), laser treatments will be much more comfortable than waxing sessions are. You will probably feel a slight snapping sensation with each laser pulse, similar to being snapped with a rubber band.

If you go to a salon for your treatment, your technician will make sure that the area is as numb as possible before the session begins. Usually, an ice pack before and after your treatment helps a lot. Plus, cooling gel helps protect your skin during the treatment.

Also, be encouraged that future laser treatments will become gradually more comfortable as your hair becomes finer and your skin gets used to the laser.

Should You Go to a Salon or Opt for an At-Home Laser Hair Treatment?

If the cost has you feeling down about salon laser hair removal, you may automatically assume that an at-home treatment is the way to go. Make sure that you look at both options so that you are making the best choice for your body.

At-Home Treatment Pros

  • Save money
  • Do it in the comfort of your home

At-Home Treatment Cons

  • Impossible to be perfectly accurate
  • Can be frustrating and take up your time
  • Must use devices at least weekly for nearly two months
  • At-home devices may not be quite as safe and effective for darker skin tones

Salon Treatment Pros

  • No worries about precision
  • Lasers typically work faster
  • Safer for darker-skinned individuals
  • Best for larger areas of skin
  • Best for areas you cannot see well

Salon Treatment Cons

  • Can be costly
  • Must commit to attending several sessions

For the majority of people, salon treatments will win out because of their convenience and precision. However, for certain people wanting to treat very small areas, such as the upper lip, an at-home option could work well.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the at-home treatment options are pretty limited. You can buy a Tria Laser 4x from Amazon, but most of the other “laser” devices are actually IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) devices.

That said, IPL devices have a lot of the same advantages as lasers, so they’re worth looking into. You can check out some of our favorites to see if they’ll work for you.

How Much Do Salon Treatments Cost?

Before committing to this treatment, you’ll want to know just how much this is going to hurt your bank account.

The final cost depends on many variables, such as the area to be treated, the laser used, your geographic location, and the office and practitioner you choose. For small treatment areas, you may be able to find someone who will charge you only $50 to $100. However, the majority of laser treatments cost between $200 to $300 per session.

Consider requesting a consultation first, which may be free in some cases. This will help you get a better idea of how the practitioner can help you and how many sessions you will need. Keep in mind that you will definitely need a series of treatments for good results.

How Often Should You Have the Treatment?

You will need a minimum of three sessions to be able to see a significant difference in your hair in a single area. However, depending on your skin tone, hair, size of the area treated, and the laser used, you may need up to eight.

Be sure to allow the proper length of time between sessions to give your skin a chance to heal and get back to normal. Most of the time, your practitioner will recommend waiting six weeks between sessions.

Because this treatment is not permanent, you will eventually see a bit of hair regrowth months after your final session is completed. You might want to consider additional treatments, or you might find that this newer, thinner hair is easier for you to deal with on your own, and you may not even have to shave it.

How Should You Prepare for Your First Laser Hair Treatment?

You should look at your laser treatment as an actual medical treatment because it can come with certain risks and side effects. Thinking of it this way will force you to make more of an effort to look at the practitioner and the office you choose.

Before your first treatment, try to hold off on plucking and waxing for at least a month or two. It is okay to shave because shaving still leaves the root of the hair behind. You should also stay out of the sun and avoid burning or tanning your skin during this time.

Be sure to ask your technician any questions you have before your treatment. You want to make sure that you go into your treatment feeling completely comfortable with what is about to happen. 

You may want to ask the technician some of the following questions:

  • What will it feel like?
  • When should I be able to see results?
  • How should I care for my skin after my treatment?
  • Can I see before-and-after pictures of others who have had laser hair removal?
  • Is this the best option for me?

Is There Downtime?

Most likely, you are a busy adult, and you have better things to do than resting on your couch waiting for your skin to heal (even if watching television and eating ice cream sounds amazing right about now)!

Knowing what to expect after your laser treatment can help you prepare and will help you know when you should schedule your treatment.

Your skin will probably feel a bit tender for the first couple of days after your treatment. However, it should feel like nothing more than a moderate sunburn. There should be no reason why you cannot participate in nearly all of your usual daily tasks.

Using approved lotions and cold compresses or ice packs can help. Your provider may also recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen.

Be sure to stay away from direct sun exposure for the next couple of months, and apply plenty of sunscreen every day.

Tips for Successful Laser Hair Removal

  • Be sure to tell your practitioner about anything that could affect your treatment, such as medications you take or scars you may have.
  • Come to your appointment with clean, makeup-free skin.
  • Shave the area the day before your appointment
  • Avoid doing things that heat up your skin for 24 hours after your appointment, such as hot showers or vigorous exercise.
  • Attend your appointments consistently if you want to see great results.

Even though laser hair removal is not permanent and may not get rid of 100% of your hair, most people will say this process is totally worth it. After all, what would you give for freedom from shaving, improved self-confidence, and an easier daily routine?