So you want laser hair removal. I totally get it! Traditional means of removing hair can become incredibly tedious. Shaving only lasts so long, waxing is painful and messy, plucking is very time consuming, on and on… The thought of not having to keep up with your hair growth for an extended period of time is quite appealing.

Laser hair removal offers you that possibility. The way this technology works is really quite simple. The device delivers a burst of light that gets absorbed by hair follicles. The energy from the light source burns the hair right down to its root, minimizing its ability to grow back. It’s diabolical in the best way.

The device used for hair removal operates in two main ways: there’s the laser option and the intense pulse light (IPL) option. Both are pretty effective and both use light to target the issue. With laser, a single light source is directed to the area of concern. Because it’s just the one laser beam, laser is more selective. IPL is a broad spectrum of light directed to the skin. It targets a wider area at once. The option you choose should depend on the contrast between your hair and skin colour, along with some other factors.

Before proceeding with the zapping, it’s important to explore the options available to you, consult professionals, and make a list of pros and cons. That’s what I did before I got laser hair removal for my underarms. It might also be helpful to get an idea of what the process looks like in order to better prepare for your appointment.

Let me take you through my journey…

I arrived at my first appointment one fateful Saturday. It was raining I think—it’s funny ‘cause it was actually sunny when I went in, but then gloomy and bleak when I came out. I thought I had entered the Matrix, but that’s just the power of IPL (jk 😉).

When I sat down, a medical aesthetician asked me some questions about my health history and offered some guidance before proceeding with the treatment. Here are the four things she shared:

1. You’ll have to shave right before and quit waxing for a while

Shave beforehand. I was under the impression that you could shave a couple days prior, but the best thing to do is shave about 24 hours before your appointment. Any hair growth may cause pain because, as I mentioned earlier, the hair attracts energy from the light of the device.

So if your hairs are sticking out through the surface, they might burn the skin around them as they dissolve. Make sure those suckers are cropped real short. Razors are best as electric shavers don’t get close enough.

On the other hand, you want to limit plucking/waxing/threading, and just about any hair removal that pulls hair out from its root. Again, the way laser works is by targeting the hair from its follicle; if there’s nothing there to absorb the heat, then the treatment doesn’t work. So if your go-to is a pair of tweezers or some wax strips, I suggest you re-acquaint yourself with your handy dandy razor.

2. Be mindful of the products you’re using beforehand

Depending on the area you’re getting lasered, you want to limit use of certain products before your appointment. I was targeting my underarms, so I was advised not to use any deodorants prior to my treatment.

This is because many deodorants/antiperspirants include metals like aluminum which can conduct the heat from the laser across the area in which they’re applied; i.e., more heat in areas where you don’t want it. The same thing goes for a lot of makeup products, and some lotions.

Patients are also advised not to use tanning products because this can minimize contrast between the hair and skin colour, and that impacts results.

3. Multiple sessions are required and timing is key

Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to laser hair removal. For starters, I didn’t notice the results of my first treatment until weeks later when I realized I didn’t have nearly as much hair growth as before. But I still had a ways to go. I completed seven sessions in total to get an outcome I was happy with.

The general guideline is 6-8 sessions, with 6-10 week wait times in between, depending on the area. So it takes a while, but good things come to those who wait.

My results have been pretty incredible. There is still some hair growth, but I went from dark and coarse underarm hair, to fine wispies that poke out sporadically. Remember that laser hair removal is not a permanent solution, so I will add that touch-up treatments may be required down the line.

4. Avoid any heat after treatment

My “post-operative” instructions were simple: Heat is not your friend. I was advised to use a cold compress (no ice-packs) if I felt a burning sensation in the area of treatment. I was told to stay out of the sun, steer clear of the gym, and limit hot showers, baths and saunas for at least 24 hours.

This is because your body will retain some of the heat from the laser and you don’t want to:
1. Do anything that will increase the temperature of your skin
2. Expose yourself to moist, bacteria-rich environments that thrive in the warmth

So take this as an excuse to have a chill, relaxing day indoors–emphasis on the chill ❄️

As always, it’s important to get an idea of whether or not a treatment is right for you. With laser hair removal, because it will be a commitment once you start, you want to make sure it’s worth the investment. I hope this helps you come to a decision.

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