Last week I asked for your thoughts on laser hair removal, and it turns out you have lots of questions! Luckily, I have answers. (And if you have questions that aren’t answered here—or are about something completely different—ask away.)*
How painful is laser hair removal?
The truth is: It stings. It sort of feels like a tiny, hot bee sting. After the first few stings, though, my body adjusted, and it really didn’t bother me. After a treatment, the skin is slightly red and might be a tad sensitive, but not for long. Kelly asked if it was similarly painful to laser tattoo removal, and I’ve never had a tattoo removed, so I can’t say this with absolute certainty, but I would assume not. With laser tattoo removal, the ink is much deeper in the skin than the hair shaft that is targeted with laser hair removal. There are several things both you and your technician can do to help with the stinging:
- Take a pain reliever before your appointment
- Don’t schedule an appointment the week before your period or during your period (when your body is a lot more sensitive to pain), especially if you have a low tolerance for pain
- Ask your technician to adjust the laser’s intensity—he or she will ask during your treatment if the laser is too painful
- Ask for a numbing cream (I never needed one, but I think I have a pretty high tolerance for pain)
Everyone is different, so even though I found the stinging tolerable, if you’re sensitive, you might need to try one of these tactics.
How should I choose a laser hair removal professional, and what’s the price range?
I combined these questions because they kind of go hand in hand. Prices vary widely, and there are a few different kinds of treatments that can be referred to as laser hair removal—including IPL (intense pulsed light) and SPL (square pulsed light). I have not tried a treatment with an SPL device, but based on my research, a true laser is most effective. Beyond equipment, I would ask a med spa or laser hair removal clinic to tell you about the technician(s) who will be performing your treatment—what training and certifications do they have? Are they nurses or just aestheticians? Also, ask about what kinds of guarantees they offer. Laser hair removal is not always permanent (hormones and personal body chemistry can have an impact)—my med spa offered a lifetime guarantee if I purchased seven treatments, meaning that if I have hair growth, I can come in for a treatment once a year, for free, for the rest of my life.
Now, for the cost. Honestly? It’s a moving target. I signed up for my treatments because the med spa I go to was offering a discount on a series of treatments. In my experience, I’d say it runs from $50 to $100 or more per treatment. Typically, if you buy a package, you’ll get a better price per treatment, or if you treat multiple areas. Keep in mind that everyone’s hair removal needs are different, so it’s best to go in for a consultation so that a technician can see your skin and hair to give you a good idea of whether you’re a good candidate for laser hair removal—and also how many treatments he or she thinks it will take to get you the results you’re looking for, which will have an impact on the cost.
I have sensitive skin. Can I try laser hair removal?
Probably. Laser hair removal is actually a lot better for sensitive skin—if you break out after waxing or shaving, you’ll probably have even better results after a laser treatment, because it doesn’t irritate the skin as much. If you’re especially concerned about your sensitivity, ask for a spot test on a small area so that you can see how your skin will react to the treatment. BUT, be sure to explain your concerns up front—the clinic will most likely want to pair you up with a very experienced technician who has worked with clients with similar skin issues.
Can laser hair removal get rid of my blonde hair or peach fuzz?
Sadly, no. As my technician explained it to me, the best candidates for laser hair removal have light skin and dark hair. People with gray, blonde, and red hair have less success with this treatment. You’ll even be advised to keep the area out of sunlight and do not tan. The laser “sees” the contrast between the skin and the dark hair, so that the hair (and not the skin) absorbs the heat and light from the laser. I can personally vouch for this, because I had no idea that I had blonde hair under my arms until all of the dark hair had disappeared!
Will laser hair removal work on my face?
Yes…if the hair on your face is dark. Facial hair is supposed to be more difficult to remove with a laser for a few reasons—it tends to be finer and lighter, and it can be related to hormonal issues, which can make it somewhat resistant to treatment. I have tried it on my face, and I had the best success on those little, dark hairs that pop up in random locations on the chin or neck.
Whew! This is quite a novel of a post, but I hope you found it helpful. Did I miss anyone’s questions? I’d love to turn this into a series—what OTHER beauty treatments or skin issues do you have questions about? —Aleigh
*Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to be used as medical advice, and the author is not a physician.
(Image by Oberazzi)