There are many misconceptions about all types of hair removal and laser hair removal is no exception.
A lot of people refuse to even consider laser hair removal strictly due to false word-of-mouth. For those who are still on the fence about laser hair removal or are not sure what’s myth and what’s fact, we are here to help decide if hair removal by laser is the best option for you.
Before we begin, we will quickly break down how laser hair removal works.
And while it does sound a little daunting, yes they do use a laser. The device will emit a beam of light that is converted into heat, pulsing on the skin for a millisecond at a time. The melanin pigment in the hair follicle and shaft absorbs the heat from the laser and is destroyed by it, ultimately inhibiting hair growth.
Typically, a longer wavelength laser is used on people with dark complexion and a shorter wavelength is used on people with fair complexion. Specialists recommend a total of 6-10 sessions, which can take about a year to complete.
Now, let’s discuss the top five myths everyone else thinks are true.
#1: “The pain is not worth it!”
While this myth is the most obvious common reason people avoid laser hair removal, it’s also the only one that can be the golden truth for one person and ridiculous for another.
As we have mentioned many times before: all hair removal – not just laser – can cause discomfort and pain. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
However the level of discomfort completely depends on the treated area, the texture of the hair, and the sensitivity of the skin. The underarms, bikini area, and the upper lip are more sensitive than other areas.
Everyone is different and everyone has varying levels of pain tolerance.
So what should I expect?
Most people have compared the experience of laser hair removal to a continuous snap of a rubber hand. Of course there’s also the heat, which naturally you will want to squirm away from. The good news is that not only is the experience unique to the person, it also depends on what kind of laser is being used.
The technology has advanced so much since the concept was first released. New lasers exist that have attached cooling devices such as a cooled tip that will make the treatments easier to handle. You can also use a numbing cream to desensitize the area you are getting treated, which will definitely help with the pain.
Some swelling and skin-tenderness is normal (ice always helps) but if you’re not sure of all of your post-treatment options, we have a few ideas.
Like most hair removal treatments we recommend, the pain will lessen over time.
In between treatments the hair becomes lighter and thinner which helps make the pain more tolerable in future sessions. Of course there are other factors that can make your treatment experience terrible. Some places advise against any caffeine-consumption the day of the treatment because it will make you more on edge. Others even advise female clients to schedule their appointments around their cycle because menstruation makes skin more sensitive than usual. Who knew, right?
You’ll have to shave (no waxing or epilating) in between appointments in order to give your skin time to heal, because shaving cuts the hair follicle down at the skin level instead of removing it completely. If you wait too long in between sessions, it will make the pain worse so definitely stick to the schedule recommended by a professional.
#2: “With laser hair removal, I can get my hair permanently removed in just one session!”
Wrong. There are so many things wrong with this statement but don’t worry, we’ll cover all of them.
First off, laser hair removal does not result in permanent removal of hair. However, it does last significantly longer than other options because it stops the hair follicle’s ability to grow hair. In reality, laser hair removal is the perfect option for permanent hair reduction. There will be eventual hair growth but it will grow back thinner, lighter, and more manageable.
Secondly, it is definitely not recommended to do all-over hair removal in just one session. This is why experts recommend 6-10 sessions spread out. A lot of people view laser hair removal more as a spa treatment instead of as a medical procedure but it really should be the other way around.
Can’t I just use a stronger laser?
If a longer wavelength laser is used at too high of a strength too soon, you will definitely get burned. When done professionally, the strength of the laser is increased gradually with each session. If you would rather be on the safe side and have a professional do it, we recommend a place with licensed technicians. You can also follow our guide here.
However, we are not suggesting that getting it done at a treatment center is the only option. There are some at-home laser hair removers such as the Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X. There are always pros and cons to both (i.e. high cost or risks of burns) but more on that later.
If you were looking for the perfect summer, beach-ready skin (hairless, of course), technicians would recommend beginning the treatment in the fall or winter because it is a time commitment and several sessions are recommended to get the perfect, smooth result.
#3: “Laser hair removal is not safe!”
Just like the first myth, this one is an obvious concern. But hopefully the fact that the FDA approves laser treatments will calm your nerves.
Like a lot of products, the lasers do not work the same for everyone. Ideally, the laser works best with fair skin and dark hair. As we mentioned earlier, the laser specifically targets the pigment, so most blonde, grey, white, or even red hair can be difficult to remove due to a lack of melanin.
It’s important to ask your dermatologist or hair removal technician if laser hair removal is best for your skin and hair. Like most treatments, there are always risks. But they can be avoided.
When it comes to skin color, it used to be that only people with light skin could have the laser hair treatment. Luckily, technology is advancing and all skin shades can be treated. Of course, it’s not as simple as a normal laser hair treatment but it’s not impossible. Learn more about laser hair removal for dark skin here!
What could go wrong?
There are rare cases when the laser hair removal caused a change in skin pigment. And this happened to those with light and dark complexions. However, if you choose to use an experienced hair removal specialist, this is less likely.
If laser hair removal weren’t safe, at-home options wouldn’t exist, like the Tria Laser Hair Removal 4X we mentioned earlier. While it is FDA approved, another concern people have is that it could burn skin. Whether done at home or by an expert, each zap of the laser lasts a split second and burns but the same area should never be zapped twice. A pro would quickly move on to the next area but some experts have reported at-home consumers going over the same spot multiple times to ensure successful hair removal. This can result in painful burns and even scabs.
If you choose to do it at home, please read the instructions carefully and be kind to your skin.
#4: “Laser hair removal exposes you to radiation.”
This is a total myth. Hair removal lasers operate on a specific wavelength of light and infrared that makes them not in a dangerous radiation range. Of course the level of wavelength depends on the type of laser used. This is why it’s so important to use a laser type that works best for your hair and skin type. But most important of all, the FDA wouldn’t approve anything that emitted radiation and had a possibility of harming your skin.
#5: “It’s too expensive.”
It can be pricey; we won’t lie.
But we wouldn’t go far as to say it’s too expensive.
Most customers swear by the treatment and say convenience and longevity are worth the cost and discomfort. It serves as a great investment by saving money and time in the long run. You’ll save money by no longer having to make expensive waxing appointments all the time and instead, you’ll spend some money for 6-10 treatments and then be done for years, even.
Results vary for everyone but if your specialist or dermatologist says it’s right for your skin and hair then we highly recommend it. If done correctly, it’s worth it.
Don’t listen to myths and misrepresentations, do the research and find out if it’s best for you.