To laser or not laser: the definitive guide to laser hair removal

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Getting rid of all unwanted body hair once and for all is a dream for many of us and laser hair-removal procedures are most definitely on the rise every year. And it’s not just women being lured in by the promises of durably smooth skin: male hairlessness also called “manscaping” is a big trend at the moment and the laser method is surging in popularity as it is much less painful than other hair removal treatments such as waxing. Here is all you need to know before jumping on the laser hair removal bandwagon.

  1. What is laser hair removal exactly all about?

First born in the 90’s, this technology uses selective electro-thermolysis to directly target melanin in the hair follicle and root area and destroy it without affecting the skin around it.

  1. Is laser hair removal right for me?

Laser hair removal doesn’t work as well on blond, red or grey hairs. It usually shows better results on darker hair and lighter skin but with all the latest advances in technologies, this treatment is now effective on a wider range of skin types.

As a rule of thumb, the darker the skin, the lower the intensity should be: the laser targets melanin that is also found in larger quantities in darker skin types and there could be a risk of damaging the skin otherwise. Two or three extra sessions are necessary on darker skins to reach similar results.

It’s also advised to start the treatment at least a month after the summer, when you don’t run the risk to damage your skin under the sun.

  1. Does it hurt?

Newer lasers are much less painful than the older generation ones as they require less energy and use a concentrated pulsed beam of light instead of a continuous one. Your surgeon or cosmetic specialist might use an anaesthetic cream to reduce the pain if your skin is particularly sensitive. In any case, pain is often an indicator that the machine’s settings are a tad too high so don’t hesitate to tell your doctor during the session if you feel uncomfortable.

  1. How long does it last?

Depending on the treated area, the session can last between 15 minutes (underarms) and 1 hour (legs). Right after the session, you will need to apply a soothing hydrating cream to quickly get rid of any inflammation. Three to five sessions will be required, with six to eight weeks in between.

  1. Is it truly permanent?

Doctors agree that laser hair removal treatment typically reduce pilosity by around 90% so while it’s not exactly permanent, it’s the most efficient procedure out there, leaving only fine light hairs hardly visible in areas such as knees, toes and forearms.

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