BEYOND BEAUTY: Joli’s Experience with LASER HAIR REMOVAL
LASER HAIR REMOVAL is a safe, non-invasive aesthetic treatment to permanently reduce hair growth using pulses of laser light to inhibit hair growth. It is a very popular method of hair reduction because it is quick and effective with zero downtime. Common areas of treatment are the under arms, bikini, and face. Several areas can be treated in the same appointment and permanent and precise results are achieved in minutes. After the treatment, you’ll be able to go about your day as normal.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH LASER HAIR REMOVAL:
I’ve gotten laser hair removal before…. I began my first round of treatments maybe in 2011 and completed about 6 sessions before I saw permanent results. With each treatment, hair regrowth was more and more sparse until eventually, I no longer needed to shave or return for another session. My main decision to try laser hair removal was beyond beauty… at that time I was traveling in Asia a lot and wanted to streamline my beauty and hygiene routine. My showers were not going to be as luxurious and I knew i could not always expect hot water. However, I did have some aesthetic considerations as well. I ended up treating my hairline, sides of my cheeks, and back of my neck as well as my bikini area. Laser hair removal proved to be a great investment and I was really happy with the results even though the laser was extremely uncomfortable over certain areas. I loved that I no longer had to buy razors or shaving creme or make appointments and I never had to ever think about shaving again. I felt great knowing that I was reducing my carbon footprint and reducing my reliance on products.
YES, THE LASER MATTERS
While my initial results were long lasting, I eventually started to see a return of hair growth several years later. During the sessions back then, the laser felt painful when it passed over bony areas and areas with thin skin or thicker hair. At times the laser would feel very hot. I used deep breathing along with squeezes on a stress ball to get through the discomfort. Because of this, I was pretty inconsistent with scheduling regular appointments but I did eventually complete treatments until I achieved long lasting results. Topical numbing creams help mildly with the discomfort as well as reduce post-treatment inflammation that followed, however the area would feel and look tender, red and a little swollen like a sunburn. This would happen less and less with each treatment. The laser used at that time was an older laser with high melanin absorption and worked best on fair skin (I have olive-toned skin). It is also possible that my technician did not set the laser to the most ideal setting for my skin type. Even with simple procedures, it is important to find a technician who is trained, licensed and practiced to minimize chances of burning and skin irritation.
I scheduled maintenance sessions at SkinRefine Medspa in Sunnyvale this time around and the experience was night and day. SkinRefine is a beautiful new medspa in the Silicon Valley and they offer a lot of the latest aesthetic treatments (wait until I tell you all about my laser facial!) Let’s just say that now I know the laser really does matter. They use the Palomar Icon by Cynosure laser for permanent hair removal treatments which is a top of the line laser that works well for a wide spectrum of skin types including darker skin. I love that it has a built in melanin reader! This put me at ease because it assured that the laser settings would be more accurately set for my particular skin type. and I was confident at achieving precise results. (It can be pretty scary to remove hair from your hairline!)
I had several areas of my face including hairline, sides of cheeks, and the back of my neck treated all in one quick session. The treatment was virtually painless and I felt the most minimal discomfort. I was actually shocked at how easy and comfortable the laser was because of my initial experience, I didn’t think the discomfort was worth continuing with my bikini area but next time, I’ll be doing that too without fear!! The laser had a contact cooling mechanism (not just a cool air stream being directed on the area). It felt like an icepack was instantly put on my skin and neutralized any sensations of heat. I had minimal redness and no bumps. My recent visit was only my first upkeep session but with this particular laser, I’m looking forward to maintaining my results.
Areas Treated: Facial hair, hairline and nape
Average Cost: $50-300 per area; The cost for facial areas and underarms range from $50-300 per session and this depends on individual factors. Larger areas like limbs and bikini will start at around $300 per session. The best and most cost efficient option is always to get a package of sessions since it takes multiple sessions to get results!
Time Commitment: <20 min
LASER HAIR REMOVAL 101:
HOW IT WORKS:
Laser hair removal is a light-based treatment that is now safely performed on all skin types. A laser beam passes through the surface layer of the skin to the hair follicle where intense heat of the laser targets and destroys hair cells in the hair follicle, inhibiting any future hair growth. The laser is well-tolerated and targets only the hair follicle without damage to surrounding skin. Note that despite the name, this treatment is for permanent hair reduction and not actually permanent hair removal. This means that you will eventually need to repeat the treatment if you wish to maintain your result.
WHO IS IT FOR?
If the aesthetic of hair on any area of your body bothers you… go for it! I definitely recommend this treatment, especially if you are someone who is tired of scheduling epilation appointments at the waxing salon or want an alternative to treatments like electrolysis. Did you know that plucking and waxing pull on the surface of the skin and can contribute to premature aging, sagging, and abrasion of the skin?! Yes, it’s true. Meanwhile, chemical bleaches and depilatories smell terrible and can cause burns, bumps, stinging and other reactions. Those with sensitive skin are often plagued with razor bumps, ingrown hairs and minor cuts when shaving and would be great candidates for laser hair removal.
Maintaining a hair-free body through traditional or manual methods definitely requires time commitment. While home devices do exist on the market and can be used for light upkeep or results, they deliver significantly less energy per session and are not the same as the professional lasers at your local dermatology practice or medspa. Luckily laser hair removal requires minimal upkeep (if any!) making it a great option for anyone willing and wanting to invest in permanent hair reduction. Like I mentioned before, the laser does matter so call to see what laser is being used.
WHAT TO EXPECT & PRE-CAUTIONS:
You can expect permanent hair reduction to take several sessions. Results and experiences will vary according to each individual. Laser hair removal delivers the best results on light skin with black, coarse hair. Several sessions of laser hair removal are required for permanent reduction of hair growth of the treatment area. It takes an average of 6 months of regular sessions to achieve 70-90% reduction of hair growth. At least three successive treatments are necessary to achieve nearly permanent epilation of the treated area but its common to need up to 8 sessions or more.
Individuals with dark or tanned skin may be at higher risk for adverse effects such as pigmentary changes and scarring when using light-based therapies. The amount of sessions needed depends on individual factors, so before the treatment you will receive a consultation outlining what you can expect along with a tailored treatment plan the cost. A consultation is necessary to determine the type of laser and the specific parameters that will work best with your individual Fitzpatrick skin type including hair thickness and pigment concentration.
Shave any areas you want to get treated before your appointment! Do not wax, tweeze or thread the area for several weeks prior (this means all you can really do is shave!). A close shave the night before your appointment will give you the best results! Use plenty of sunscreen and do not expose the area to be treated to the sun in the few weeks leading up to your session because lasers work best with the high contrast darker hair against fair skin. Note that laser treatments cannot be done on tanned or sun-exposed skin.
You may experience temporary effects such as minor redness which will usually disappear within 12-24 hours. Avoid abrasive or harsh products (no scrubs or peels!). Continue to avoid sun exposure (for the next 48 hrs) as well as hot tubs, hot baths/showers and saunas. Use sun protection (hat and sunglasses included) and apply adequate SPF religiously. Use a soothing moisturizer throughout the day to protect the skin. Cold packs or aloe vera gel can be used if you experience any lingering discomfort. For best results, keep your scheduled follow-up appointment times until you achieve your desired result.
HAVE YOU TRIED LASER HAIR REMOVAL? Tell us about it in the comments section :)
This information is provided to you for educational and/or informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an endorsement of any particular product, treatment, or procedure. This information is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment by a doctor or other qualified health care professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about any procedure or treatment, users should always consult their doctor or other qualified health care professional.