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Now that the warmer temperatures are finally here, you’re likely looking forward to ditching your sweaters for your swimsuits. One way to avoid the common frustration of constantly shaving is to opt for laser hair removal instead. How you prepare for laser hair removal is important as it can impact how effective your treatment is. We’ve outlined some helpful tips so you won’t ever have to worry about shaving again!
What Is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal is a hair removal option for those who want to permanently reduce hair growth in a range of different areas. As the name suggests, this hair removal process uses a targeted beam of light that targets the pigment (melanin) in the hair that it absorbs. From there, the light kills the hair follicle to eliminate future hair growth. The melanin absorbs the laser in the hair, meaning laser hair removal is the most effective in areas that have dark hair. Those with blonde, red, gray or white hair will not experience the same efficacy with laser hair removal. If you have lighter natural hair color we recommend a consultation before booking a series of laser hair removal.
Here are some common treatment areas that laser hair removal addresses:
- Upper lip
Even though there are at-home laser hair removal options, they won’t be nearly as effective as seeking professional treatment.
What to Do Before Laser Hair Removal
Preparing for laser hair removal properly can help set you up for success. Make sure you take the time to read ours before laser hair removal tips below.
Avoid Sunbathing or Tanning
Even though it’s summer, you’ll want to stay out of the sun as part of your laser hair removal prep. In fact, laser hair removal can’t be performed on skin that has been recently tanned or sunburned. If you have an upcoming laser hair removal appointment, make sure to avoid prolonged sun exposure for at least two weeks leading up to your appointment. You will also need to avoid self-tanners or skin bronzers. We recommend that you stop using self-tanner for 4 weeks before laser hair removal so that the skin doesn’t overheat during the process.
Exfoliate the Treatment Area
Many patients wonder, “Should I exfoliate before laser hair removal?” The answer is yes as long as you do it gently on the night before the procedure. If you use too much force and take a rougher exfoliation approach, it could result in cuts that will make the treatment painful and ineffective. By gently exfoliating, however, you help to remove the dead skin cells in the treatment area which makes it easier to remove the hair.
Be Careful with Skin Products
The skin products you use should be factored into laser hair removal preparation. There are many common skincare products that increase how photosensitive your skin is. What does this mean? The higher the photosensitivity, the higher the risk that your skin could become burned during the procedure. Make sure to avoid ingredients such as salicylic acid, retinol, and benzoyl peroxide 2-3 days before your procedure and wait 2-3 days before you begin using them again.
Shave the Area
What about shaving before laser hair removal? Make sure that you shave the area within 24 hours before your appointment as you won’t want to show up with any remaining hair in the area. If you are targeting your bikini area for laser, make sure that you aren’t waiting until the last minute to shave as the skin is sensitive in this area. When to shave before laser hair removal in this area should be completed 1-2 days in advance to help any irritation subside.
Avoid Plucking, Waxing, and Electrolysis
This is an especially important guideline to follow! While shaving is okay, make sure to not wax before laser hair removal as it could cause damage to the hair follicle. The same can be said about tweezing before your appointment. In the case that the hair follicle is damaged, the laser hair removal treatment will not be effective and you’ll see the hair removed start to grow back. You’ll want to wait at least 4-6 weeks after your last waxing appointment before you start your laser hair removal treatment. You should also avoid using depilatory cream like Nair hair remover on any area you will treat for at least 2 weeks before your appointment.
Pick a Suitable Wardrobe
While wardrobe might not be top of mind before your appointment, you’ll want to consider what to wear to laser hair removal. It’s not uncommon to experience some skin irritation following your appointment, so you’ll want to wear something that is loose and breathable around the treatment area. If the bikini area is being treated, you’ll want to wear underwear that is cotton and loose-fitting.
Arrive with Clean Skin
Your skin should be clean when you show up for your appointment. Make sure to avoid using any oil, cream, sunscreen, deodorant, or makeup on the treatment area. In the case that you’re not able to avoid these products, make sure to ask for a wipe upon arrival so you can clean your skin off before the session begins.
Use Caution with Certain Medications
Some of the medications that you take could impact the efficacy of laser hair removal or make your skin more sensitive to the treatment. For example, some antibiotics and topical products with retinol. Some medications can cause phototoxicity, an adverse reaction, when the skin is exposed to light. While you may not need to stop taking this medication, you’ll want to make sure that you know if there is potential of phototoxicity with your particular medication and inform your healthcare professional before they perform laser hair removal on you.
What to Do After Laser Removal Treatment?
Once your appointment is over, you’ll want to focus on aftercare. It’s normal to experience swelling and redness in the treatment area after the procedure, and this could last for several days. It’s not uncommon for the treated area to feel similar to razor burn or sunburn for 2-3 hours after your appointment. You can turn to over-the-counter hydrocortisone or aloe vera if you want to help reduce redness and irritation.
The hair in the treatment area will slowly begin to shed over the next 1-2 weeks following your appointment. It’s typical to see hair patchiness as new follicles grow in, and as you near the end of your treatments, this unevenness will dissipate.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind following your treatment:
- Avoid excessive heat in the treatment area including hot tubs, saunas, or even working out for at least 24 hours after your session.
- Avoid sun exposure to the treatment area and avoid using a tanning bed for at least two weeks following your appointment. You’ll want to use a broad-spectrum sunblock that has SPF 30 or above every day!
- Don’t use topical products that could increase photosensitivity for three days following your treatment, and always use a gentle cleanser and lotion.
- Avoid getting Botox, filler, chemical peels, or microdermabrasion in the treatment area for at least two weeks.
Ready to Start Laser Hair Removal?
Our team at Metropolitan Skin Clinic is passionate about helping you look and feel your best! If you’re in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area and you’re interested in learning more about laser hair removal or you’re ready to move forward with booking your session with us, please contact us today!